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How to plan your trip

BRAZIL | Wednesday, 28 January 2015 | Views [398]

Travelling is all about planning.

First you decide where to go, what you want to see and when you want to go.

Visiting one place in summer is entirely different of visiting it in winter. There are difficulties you might have not imagined you have to go through, but in the long run, each trip is unique in itself.

This is the forth time I travel to Europe for a month. I took the painfully learnt lessons from the other times and applied to the preparation and planning of this one, and so far I have reaped good results.

First step was to be flexible enough to travel whenever the low season tickets were to be found. I had a limited time window to travel but I had a lot of flexibility about the when and where I could travel.

One thing that helped me a lot was a great app available for iPhone named Skyscanner. They also have a website but I like the app better.

I would stay hours just playing with it, clicking in imaginary itineraries trying to see which would be the cheapest flight I could find… destination anywhere.

I was not picky, but I knew I wanted to do what I have always did whenever travelling: I wanted to visit historical places, see as much art as possible in a very short time and scrunch as much information as I could in my little notebook.

When I found the winter special by Swiss Airways with low season prices I knew I found a possible destination.

The fact that I was planning the trip seven months in advance helped as well and the low dollar conversion rate of that time also made what could possibly be a very expensive ticket into a bargain.

In the end, I’ve paid what is almost a student fare for an open jaw ticket leaving Sao Paulo, with stopover in Zurich with final destination in Amsterdam, with return directly from Zurich.

It was cheaper to fly to Amsterdam than to go to Belo Horizonte (one hour flight from Sao Paulo) on Christmas. Believe me, I’ve tried and I couldn’t find tickets on short notice. I ended spending it at home with friends and family.

Once the flights tickets were found and bought, we had to decide what would be in between.

A visit to Germany was a must, as this has been my pilgrimage stop since 2004. And due to some deaths in the family, returning to Germany had a bittersweet taste as I truly felt that each minute counted as I had no idea how long this safe haven would still be open to me here.

Before my last trip I had planned a route for a Jewish lady back home as she wanted to visit the Jewish sites in Eastern Europe. The Concentration Camps, the Jewish Quartiers, the Baroque Libraries and the Jewish Quartiers in Prague and Budapest. I remembered those amazing images and wanted to visit them as well, so I started researching possible routes within these parameters.

That’s when I hit gold – quite literally.

I had recently joined Pinterest and Tumblr and whenever I started researching these topics, more and more I fell in love with these amazing libraries made of old books, art and fat baby angels in their walls.

From there, I had to pin the stops and start counting the days for each one and how and where I would stop.

Even though I had 30 days, my time was to be shared with long stretches in each town with rest stops in between, in order to allow me to absorb as much as possible of the atmosphere.

After some changes, the final itinerary ended like this:

Amsterdam (Holland)

Bad Oyenhousen (Germany)

Munich (Germany)

Wien (Austria)

Prague (Czech Republic)

Wien (Austria)

Zurich (Switzerland)

 

Most of these cities I have visited before, with the only exception of Prague as it would be a very first for me. Amsterdam, Munich, Wien I stayed a grand total of maybe twelve hours each, being able to see either only the airport or the train station of them.

That barely constitutes a visit, so I devoted more time for each one of them. Bad  Oyenhousen is basically home, with its endless fields covered with snow and ending in mysterious woods and the bitter twang of almond trees and chirping birds eating the roasted nuts in Friedemann’s garden.

Zurich is Ellie’s home thusly I had been there for a week back in 2004. This stop is more like a resting place to recharge the batteries before going back home to real life again.

 We continue with tips in the next chapter.

Tags: how to choose an itinerary, planning, preparation, schedule, travel smart

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