Part 1: Choosing a Destination
Part 2: Booking Flights/Hotels
So you know where you’re going, your flight is booked, and you have somewhere to crash at night. Now is the fun part! Time to decide what you are going to do on your trip! I think a perfect trip is a good mix between being active, learning some history, experiencing a new culture, and, of course, eating and drinking!
We don’t like traveling with a strict itinerary. We prefer to have a general list of the things we want to see and do and then do things as the mood strikes us.
If I can stress one thing above all else when choosing activities, make sure you don’t rely just on guidebooks to decide what to do. The internet is your greatest tool. Guidebooks are nice, but typically they steer you largely toward the most tourist-centric activities. Spend some time online looking at things that locals recommend doing and places where locals eat and drink. Read through Reddit and blogs and even TripAdvisor.
Once you have a general feel for what you want to do in each city, I like to make a list (usually in my phone), broken down by category. I find that being as specific as possible, especially when it comes to places to eat and drink is crucial. When you are in a different country and all the restaurant names are in Czech or French or Greek, being able to look at a list and say, “Oh yeah, this place is supposed to be great for casual drinks out,” is a lifesaver. Otherwise, you get a long list of restaurants that you have to re-research every time you get hungry.
Don’t be afraid to skip the touristy things. While it would definitely be a crying shame to go to Paris and not at least glance at the Eiffel Tower, you don’t need to do every single one of the big activities in each city. For example, Adam and I don’t really enjoy art museums. Of course we would see the Mona Lisa, given the opportunity, but we don’t feel a need to pay to get in to a world class art museum just because it is a “must see.” We won’t enjoy the experience and would rather put our time and money toward something we enjoy. It’s completely okay to not do everything the guidebooks tell you to do!
Finally, let your trip be a reflection of yourself. Move as fast or as slow as you want. See as much or as little as you want. Don’t let the location or the guides tell you what kind of trip to have. This is your experience and no one gets to leave with the same memories as you do!