Random Observation/Comment # 126: I never seem to stay on topic with my journal entries. I read a lot of my suggestions from what’s supposed to be “useful to help other people plan,” but none of it is actually straightforward. I enter a lot of weird commentary that just fills the lines with a horribly foul substance. It’s not quite bullshit, but you do have to dig through something viscous to find what you’re looking for. I oddly hope I continue writing this way because it gives me a glimmer of joy, just imagining the readers’ frustrations.
To summarize from earlier, I am bounded by a decision already placed into motion (the study abroad thing in Europe) so I researched in every nook and cranny possible to get an insight on different travel locations. I did not know what I should choose exactly, but I knew I should take my time in each city and look for cities that were highly recommended by people who have my similar tastes. Germany is a given, since I am centered there, but the bordered countries that are possible by weekend travel are quite numerous. I could go basically anywhere in Europe because I’m right in the center. In addition, since I have set housing in Germany, I will actually go on smaller trips based from Germany. In my special condition (mostly applicable to study abroad students), I have chosen the main countries of Czech Republic, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, and UK.
I chose the UK because of the cheaper flight costs to-and-from London. Round-trip flights are always cheaper and if I want to travel Europe anyway, I might as well do a one-way flight to Germany and take the train back to London for the return. I highly suggest considering this possibility: Book a roundtrip to a major airport, fly cheap across Europe, train ride one way back to the major airport while stopping by all of your desired cities. You should probably check the airfares, but I know London Heathrow Airport is much cheaper because of the high volume of traffic.
Basically, once you have decided your generic path from the airport flights and dates of return, you will be given some restrictions by the transportation and number of cities you would like to visit along the way. As I mentioned earlier, give yourself enough time to enjoy yourself. Try to do a few city days and then a few nature walks to balance the week. Although I will be abroad for 6 months, I will have a few major trips that require thorough planning.
The weekend trips centered from Germany are quite ideal because I could still experience some backpacking without the heavy luggage. Since I already know the countries I’d like to visit and the number of weekends I have allotted, I have planned the smaller trips based on travel time and location. For example, my last trip must end in London for my return flight so it wouldn’t make sense to go to the Czech Republic and then make a “U-ee.” That’s just inefficient and quite unnecessary. Plus, the transportation problem (discussed in a latter entry) will make this much more expensive. Therefore, my weekend trips will focus heading towards the Southern and Eastern areas since my final trip will be going west.
For the longer trips, I planned lightly and accounted for my heavy luggage. Normally, I would like to stay in different places to make local transportation much easier, but with the luggage, I prefer paying more money in a central location and leaving my important things in a safe place. I expect to spend a full week in major cities like Paris, Amsterdam, and somewhere in Southern France. Along the way, I’ll definitely try the beer in Belgium and take pictures of castles in Luxembourg. These plans are quite broad as of now, but I’m also expecting some change when I meet people abroad.
Keeping this in mind, it’s also important to be flexible with your planning. Sometimes the reading material for your city or country may have given you false impressions. Booking hotels or hostels a week in advance would give you guaranteed spots, but if you want to leave, you should definitely have that freedom.
There really isn’t an easy way to do this because unexpected weather patterns or other disturbances may drastically change your plans. It’s impossible to account for everything, but it doesn’t hurt to do more research and have backup plans on places to visit. Categorize your travel days to minimize your transportation costs and maximize the sights in the area, and include the backup days if weather isn’t on your side.
~See Lemons Find a Solution that Fits