Travel planning. Maybe it sounds fun and exciting but in reality, it is a lot of work and quite a bit of stress.
Since we purchased our tickets to London we have been spending hours on the computer every day researching our options and making plans. When we started planning, the only thing we knew for sure was that our first stop was London (this was the cheapest place we could get flights to). We have family a few hours outside of London so we knew we would spend some time with them before heading to the mainland. Our only other plan was that we wanted to spend one month in Budapest. Mike’s father was born in Hungary and we have always wanted to go there. (And how cool is it to show our boys where their Grandpa was born!)
Our research began as a marathon. Where would we go? What would we do? How could we stay on budget?
Early on in our travel plans, we realized that we would not be able to tour around Europe on our budget. We know from experience that every time we hop on a plane, train, or bus, our expenses go up exponentially. Add to that the cost of hotel rooms (and even hostels for four people) and our trip would be more like three weeks rather than three months. We decided that to keep costs down we would try to spend each month in one area, renting an apartment. Monthly rentals offer STEEP discounts and staying in apartments will allow us to cook many of our own meals. I see a lot of bread and cheese in our future!
I am excited to say we now have an amazing travel plan. We have booked what we hope are amazing apartments for our first 76 days and have booked most of our flights within Europe.
February 22 to March 1st – We fly into London on February 22nd (brrrr) and have family picking us up at the airport (Thank you Uncle J). We will be staying with family until March 1st and plan on exploring London. Of course, London is a very expensive city so we will be doing it on a budget. There are a surprising amount of things to do in London for free including many amazing museums.
March 1st to March 30th – We fly to Barcelona, Spain on March 1st and spend the next month there in a two bedroom apartment in a residential neighborhood within walking distance of Sagrada Familia (A super cool Gaudi masterpiece). SO exciting! I have been eyeing Barcelona for a while now. I have so many friends who have been and they have loved it.
March 30th to April 6th – Rome! This one was a big surprise. We were trying to book flights from Barcelona to Budapest and there were no cheap flights on the day we needed. We decided to just lose a day on our Airbnb rental and fly a day early. We went through the booking process and at the very end our credit card was not accepted. We tried several times, called the credit card company, got nowhere, and then called it quits for the night. The next morning I used Google Flights’ awesome feature where you can put in your departure city and put “everywhere” as your arrival city. I then found cheap flights to Rome! I also found cheap flights from Rome to Budapest! Thank you Universe for making that happen!
This was where our epic fail in travel planning came in.
Mike and I booked our Rome to Budapest flight when we were quite tired. The next morning I got up and (thankfully) realized that we had booked the right day but the wrong month. Gah! After hours trying to get it sorted, RyanAir honored their policy to make free changes within 24 hours of booking. We had to pay an extra 100 Euros as there was a difference in fares but we did not have to pay the 120 Euro penalty for flight changes. Phew!
So back to Rome….We have a super cute two bedroom apartment outside the center. It is a 1.50 Euro tram ride to get downtown and takes 20 minutes. The kids are SO EXCITED to go to Rome as they are both Roman history buffs. Now we actually get to see the colosseum instead of just reading about it. WORLDSHOOLING!!!!
April 6th to May 6th – We fly to Budapest on April 6th and spend a month there in a one bedroom apartment. We had some travel planning serendipity here. I have a Facebook friend that I met through this blog years ago who has been living in Budapest. I emailed her to ask her what the best neighborhoods were and which ones we should avoid. As luck would have it, her family was moving out of their apartment and moving into a house. Their apartment would be available for us to rent! It is in a fantastic location and fits within budget perfectly.
May 6th to May 29th – Unknown! We won’t plan this part of the trip until we are traveling. We want to leave at least some of our trip open for inspiration. I have a feeling we might be sick of cities by then and will want to spend time in the countryside…or maybe we will want to road trip for a few weeks…or maybe we will meet some friends to travel with…or maybe someone will invite us to their homes…who knows!
May 29th– Home again after just over three months in Europe.