Travel Preparation

Getting ready for traveling can be arduous!  But so very exciting!

Over the next month or so, I will blog about my adventures abroad, sharing my discoveries, mistakes–no, just misadventures (really), photos and thoughts on what I’ve seen and done.  Ideally, I have it in the back of my mind to do a travelogue–tongue-in-cheek style–for women/single travelers and will incorporate what I have learned & written from my last trip and this one.  So, this blog has a bit of a duality to it, I guess.

But first, a little back history:

I have traveled plenty within the Western United States–always traveling with family or going to a family or friend’s home, but only once have I traveled for an extended period of time abroad — and that time, my daughter was with me for the entire trip–a great help when traveling by car, watching for signs, reading map directions, etc.  So, I guess, I would have to say that traveling with at least one person is great.  We had a wonderful time exploring Europe, UK & Ireland…and certainly did NOT want to come home, but did, with a promise to return someday.

So, now, we are returning–finally…three years later!

Having learned a few lessons from our previous trip, I have spent hours trying to figure out how to minimize the amount of clothes I will be bringing — only a 21″ carry-on and a packpack to cram everything into  (and with less strength to cart it all than last time around–shoulder surgeries are still in the healing process).  The rule of thumb for packing:  lay out what you “plan” on taking, seriously cut out half of it (at least) & then pack it!  (Also, figure out how much you want to spend and then DOUBLE it!)   I have made list upon list of things to do, to prepare the house, my critters and to try to “fool-proof” my trip:  making sure itineraries & passports are in order, acquiring an international drivers license (even though the plan is to use the train & other public transport), getting some foreign currency (both euros & British pounds) in advance so we are ready to go as soon as the plane/ferry hits the ground — so many little details.  If you’d like, I’ll give more details later (just send me a comment).

My daughter will only have a week to frolic in Europe, as she must return to mid-term finals right after Spring Break.  I, for the first time in my life, will be doing the majority of the trip on my own:  a single woman, roaming through Europe–hopefully having the time of my life!  I am alternately thrilled and terrified (well, only a little terrified) — so many new experiences await me.  I will be seeing old friends at various points:  CSer’s (friends I’ve met/hosted through CouchSurfers.com) and friends met  at various hostels I’ve been to–but I will also be embarking on many new experiences:  staying at hostels previously unseen, taking the trains & other local transportation with all my luggage to get from point A to point B, trying to translate the train/transit signage of various languages (hoping fervently that there will be English translation for the important stuff) and speaking in my elemental German and Spanish whenever possible to communicate (oh, those poor locals–how their ears will be hurting, hearing me slaughter their beautiful language)…

Our first week will be rather luxurious:  hotels, chauffeured around to sight-see by US friends stationed in Germany, good food–easy living!  Then Jameson goes home.  After that, I say goodbye to my friends and start staying at hostels (and a few CSer’s homes), walking, grabbing my food from local shops, taking pictures, meeting new people, experiencing the countries as the locals do, walking, taking pictures & more walking…did I mention taking pictures? — and if I feel comfortable about an area, maybe even hiring a car to drive around — maybe.

My itinerary is rather ambitious for the time allotted, but I also have “built-in” the potential of extending my stay a week or two so that I don’t feel rushed:  four weeks and two days to see eight countries.  On our last trip, we were gone for two months, drove the whole way (plus ferries across bodies of water) and visited nine countries — that is only ONE more country, but we traveled within each country far more extensively than my plans for this trip.  The train will “jet” me across landscapes to my destinations but allow me to sight see from the comfort of the train car.  There will be a few points where I will, for expediency, go by plane.  And as I approach the end of my official trip, if I have not made it to my departure destination, I will simply change my departure date.  The penalty fees will cost me, but not as much as two one-way tickets would, or making a return trip to fit in the rest of the planned itinerary.  So, that’s why I say “built-in” — I know the Added-Fees Beast may rear it’s ugly head, but I am ready for it!

So, that’s all for now.  I will blog whenever I have a wi-fi connection, so I may be clumping several days into one blog entry.  I hope you enjoy my crazy entries.  If they are anything like the ones I emailed everyone last time, they should be relatively entertaining, funny at times or at least informational, perhaps helping you out as you plan for your trip.

No catchy sign-off yet ^,^

DJSmith