I love planning future trips to faraway locations. The thrill of discovery as you search for more information – whether you are looking for the authentic local experience, complete with hole-in-the-wall restaurants and hidden local hot spots, or maybe instead you lean toward the best of the best, highlights of the top sights to see in a new city, visiting as many of the historical/cultural icons as possible.
Generally, I like to strike a balance between the two. I don’t want to miss a few of the top tourist attractions (they attract so many people for a reason!). But at the same time, I want to get away from the crowds for a while and find a quiet place to relax, unwind, and enjoy the fact that I’m away on vacation with no pressing responsibilities.
As a result, I like to research the top sights to see, know things like what time they are open or what the entry fee might be. But then I leave things like food and the actual path we take up to chance.
When I went to St. Kitts, I had basically the same approach. I researched the best places to visit in St. Kitts, and made sure I had a plan to visit those. I would either rent a taxi to go around the island, or rent a car and have my friend drive (since they drive on the left side of the road, it would have been terrifying driving myself).
For that trip, I had a few key goals:
- Visit Brimstone Fortress, a UNESCO world heritage site
- Spend the day (or several days) at the beach
- Have a spa day with massage at the Marriott
- Go horseback riding through the rainforest
I was able to accomplish all those and more, but my schedule was flexible enough to accommodate my friend’s schedule of classes.
I’m trying to achieve this same balance of flexibility and preparation for our mother/daughter trip to Europe. But including so many countries on our itinerary (while great as a teaser-tour-of-Europe), means that a lot of separate prep work is required.
So for now, I’m a little burnt out on the planning. I still have to do all of the planning for our last two days of our trip. I’ve got us landing in Dortmund after the Polish segment of our Journey, but we fly back to the USA out of Dusseldorf. So while the two cities are only an hour’s drive apart, a significant chunk of planning has to be done for lodgings and sights to see for the last two nights of our trip.
Many suggestions from helpful friends and readers have me leaning toward spending that time in Cologne. And while I’m quickly becoming an old pro at airbnb (or at least, a pro at contacting potential hosts), I can’t seem to bring myself to delve into the details and decide on a place to stay.
After so much planning, I can see why it would be helpful to take a guided tour if you are looking for a quick taste of Europe. One of my former coworkers went on a Mediterranean cruise a few years ago and got to see a variety of beautiful places in Greece, Italy, etc. All she had to do was get off at the dock, wander around the area for a day, and get back on the boat at the prescribed time.
I’ve also heard a lot about the Rick Steve’s guided tours. But those tours go for $4100+ per person! At my last look at the finances for our trip, it looks like we will end up just over half of that amount ($2000-2500 estimated) for two people!! The added cost may very well be worth it if you don’t have the time or the energy needed to plan two weeks worth of hopping from city to city.
I’m glad I was able to plan this trip for us – to include our top preferences instead of the pre-decided tour itinerary. But I will be glad when the planning is done and all that is left is the excitement of getting ready for our trip!
- St Kitts outperforms region in cruise tourism (caribbean360.com)
- Day trip to Basseterre and Cockelshell Beach – Basseterre, Saint Kitts and Nevis (travelpod.com)