LIke every solid Type A person out there, before I left, I knew I needed a plan. This is a brief synopsis of what I did to get the best prices on everything:
Step 1: Dream
I literally thought about travelling for years before I actually booked my first international flight. For this particular Eurotrip, I began fantasizing back in November. During this phase, I googled “cheap ways to travel,” “cheapest places to fly to in Europe,” and “volunteer abroad programs.” I also googled “best beaches in the world,” and used pinterest to organize my travel interests.
I found out that the cheapest dates to fly were typically Monday and Tuesday, and it seemed cheaper to fly from Boston to London than anywhere else. Boston, however, seems to be the most expensive American airport to fly out of generally. I also found out that European airlines are much cheaper than American airlines: as a result, I am only flying European.
For me, this phase lasted from November- March.
Step 2: Pick the dates
For me, this was easy. I am a teacher. I knew I would have the summer off. The only drawback was not having a school calender for next year out, so I just asked my depaartment head about next year’s start date and got the ok. I knew I wanted to visit coastal countries and I knew I didn’t really care about specific dates, as long as I returned home by the time the next school year started. No teacher wants to miss the first day of school!
Step 3: Budget
I try to budget my money every month, but for this trip, I picked up some extra hours at the school I work at and picked up a second job on weekends. This ensured that I would be able to have the correct amount of money for the trip, including emergencies (ie missing one of my flights).
Step 4: Determine the itinerary (do this 3-6 months in advance for the cheapest flight tickets)
For me, this summer’s itinerary needed to include warmth, sunshine, and beaches. I googled coastal European cities and found Barcelona. From there, I googled cheap flight tickets and for a $350.00 ticket to Lisbon, Portugal, so I decided to spend a week in Portugal first.
I used the flex- date calenders on sites like Norweigian Airline, and put in dates on google flights until I could find the best rates. Google has a long-term calender of cheap fares.
I used TAP, a Portugeuse airline, to fly into Lisbon, and from Lisbon to Barcelona. I booked it through Expedia, and the total cost of both was about $400.00. From Barcelona, I booked a ticket through Expedia, and used Ryanair to get to Paris. This was $70.00, because I clicked that I needed a checked bag, otherwise the fligvht would have been $35.00.
I knew I wated to experience the Eurail, so I booked two countries- France and Italy- for about $280. This includes 5 stops because I booked it before the end of April, so I did not book any flights in between. My last stop in Italy will be Venice.
I used Volotea, an Italian airline I found on google flights to fly from Venice to Santorini for $41.00. After Santorini, I knew I would be meeting a friend in Germany on a specific date. This was my most expensive flight- $237.00 from Santorini to Hamburg, and I used Aegean airlines.
My friend and I would be travelling from Hamburg to London for a couple of days before flying to Stockholm to catch a return flight home to Boston. The tickets from Hamburg to London were about $55.00, using British airways. London to Stockholm was $47.00 using Ryanair. The last ticket- from Stockholm to Boston, cost a mere $345.00.
All of the tickets were purchased about three months in advance, and most of the flights leave early or late; however, this is for the flights from the USA to Europe, the earlier you book, the cheaper the flights will be.
So these are the countries I’m visiting: Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Germany, England and Sweden. The ninth is the flight home to the USA.
The total cost of travel between these countries is $1475.00. It is over the course of 7 weeks.
Step 5: Where to stay?
After booking the flights, I needed to figure out where to stay. I used hostelworld, airbnb, and couchsurfing to figure out my options. This part is still in process, but I will post the total cost once this phase is planned out!
Step 6: What to do in each place? Planning activities and navigating transit
Again, this is still in process- links to come!
Anyway, so this is how far I’ve gotten on planning my trip. I know I will be doing a ton of research to figure out how to navigate the public transit systems in each country.
Keep reading- reviews of each site and how to use them will come next!