We were driving home on a weekend when my husband asked.
“How old will Winter be when Heartbeat is 6? Will he be 3?”
I said yes.
“Maybe we should go somewhere far, say Spain, before Heartbeat goes to school.”
“You know, Spain in the past was one of Islamic empire, maybe we should go see the place.”
Two weeks later I got him a rough itinerary of a 14 days Europe trip.
The thing is, I don’t like flying. I am actually afraid of height. It may sound funny considering all those years I flew back and forth ICN-KUL like nobody’s business, but honestly, during all those flights I slept to forget the fact that I am actually 40 000 meters off the ground.
So if we are going to the european continent, lets go ONCE AND FOR ALL.
Planning for a Europe trip is dif-fi-cult. So today I’m going to tell you a what I did step-by-step to help you plan for yours too.
STEP 1: OPEN THE WORLD MAP
Ha ha ha. Because seriously, I am no genius at world geography. I am in fact, very bad at world geography. So, first thing first, you have to know what country sits where on the globe. Or even, what country is there in Europe.
STEP 2: DECIDE ON WHICH COUNTRY YOU WOULD WANT TO VISIT
At first, I just picked one city out of each country I feel like visiting. It isn’t much about the route at this point of planning, but more what your interest is.
For instance, Berlin is a must-go for us. My husband is a fan of history and we just have to go see that relics of the war, the way we visited JSA during our honeymoon. My Korean colleague went meh when I told him I was going to Panmunjeom for honeymoon.
And then there is Venice. Which I’m not trading for anything else. Venice is purely personal. And if the kids can have Disneyland, let me have Venice.
This way I picked a few cities, some just-because, and list them down.
After that, I started drawing a line through them. Mentally, I mean. I can’t draw a line on my phone screen, now, can I? It is sort of like the connecting dots game you play in school. You can then see how big your loop is.
STEP 3: DECIDE ON YOUR STARTING COUNTRY
I found out that taking a return flight is a lot cheaper than a one-way to one-city and go back from another city. My friend had suggested a multi-city option, which I did not explore deeply yet, but you can totally consider that option up.
The price of flight may correspond with the flight length/how far the destination is from your home country, but it isn’t always so. For instance, I found out flying to London from Kuala Lumpur is cheaper than flying to other Europe destination from Kuala Lumpur. Maybe it’s because London is much popular? I don’t know.
Still, we aren’t talking about financial stuff yet.
STEP 4: FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH THE MODE OF TRANSPORTATION OF YOUR CHOICE
When I first started out, I discovered a Eurail Pass which had sound like such a bargain, considering kids ride for free and they mentioned you can get on any train across Europe. Upon more reading, it may not always be cheaper than a point-to-point options. For instance, you may still have to book for seats, and this requires extra fee. And then, not all train systems take them. Also, you have to travel a substantial amount of time to make the pass really worth it. This will be based on your itinerary.
For our itineraries, I find a point-to-point ticket a cheaper option if you book well ahead. Some trains are open for booking as early as 90 days ahead, others around 60 days before the trip. Although, of course, I had to do a heck lot of research going through various train system website. At one point, I can even understand a few Spanish and Italian words from looking at too much foreign websites. No, kidding. There is so much things to do, no wonder travel agents are expensive. And we haven’t even get to the real visits yet.
Other than train, there is also the local low-cost flight like Ryanair. But these flight, just like AirAsia, has a luggage restriction and therefore will be asking for certain luggage fee. Be sure, to check all those fees before deciding if flying is a cheaper option to train.
On another note, flying may be much much easier if the two points are too far apart. For instance if you going from Rome to Paris, you are better of saving the time and take the flight instead.
Phew such a long post already. I guess I will be continuing this later on.
For now, it’s lunch time and like any sane person, I need to eat.