When I last posted about my motivation for the 2013 trip to Europe, it was a very general idea.
I knew we would need two very expensive things:
1. Two round-trip flights between the US and Europe
2. Hotels or somewhere to sleep every night for the two weeks we plan to visit
But we haven’t really decided where we want to go. So I figured I’d check out a few websites for itinerary planning and see if they help with the decision.
We have a few key limitations:
– I will be ‘paying’ for our flights with credit card points from sign up bonuses. Some people are concerned about this at first, because they think credit cards can lead to irresponsible spending. No worries – I pay off my bill every month – I just use the incentives they post in order to finance my travel for minimum cash.
– Because I will be trying to get the least expensive flights (within reason) to Europe, we will be limited into which cities we can fly. For example – London has very expensive taxes and fees. Certain airlines (like British Airways) also have very high fuel surcharges. I’ll write more about it later, but from my initial research, it looks like we need to fly into Dublin, Ireland; Berlin, Germany; or Madrid, Spain.
– My mom has a couple locations she wants to visit: Paris, Poland, and Rome. Other than that, she doesn’t really care. Since those three locations are not in the same places as the airports we can use to minimize costs, I get to figure out the rest. That includes hotels within a city, transport between cities, and activities.
– I only get so much vacation/sick leave from work. My mom is a teacher, so she gets summers off. She normally has workshops / continuing education over the summer that she needs to attend, but due to budget cuts and reduced grant funding, she doesn’t have any mandatory workshops for next summer. So the dates themselves don’t matter – only the duration.
First off, I did a google search for travel itinerary planners. I came across a few but picked TripWiser.com as my initial trial website. My first impressions of the TripWiser.com website is that it is fairly easy to use for initial research. You can search for a city and see what sort of activities, hotels, or restaurants are in the area. You can add the destination without designating a fixed day (so you can collect a list of places without knowing your exact schedule yet).
I’m not sure how useful it will be for the details later in the planning, though.
So far, I’ve only been trying to nail down the cities where we will spend most of our time. Unfortunately, in order to do that, we’ll need to determine how we can easily get between major cities (via day train, night train, air, etc.). While I haven’t spent much time yet looking around the site, it doesn’t appear to be something that will be easy to do.
We still have a lot of time before we need to make definite plans. Until we get closer to that time, I might not be able to fully utilize the website. In the mean time, I’ll keep an eye out for the available features.