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Trip Report 12 Days, 2 Carry-Ons, 1 Couple in Benelux + Germany: Trip Report

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The folks in the Netherlands and Belgium forums were such a great help that I wanted to repay their kindness with a trip report. Hopefully my trip report can help others that are in the planning stages.

I am swamped with work (still playing catch-up from vacation) so I will probably post a day at a time. This will give me a chance to be a little more detailed.

I'd like to start with a little background on who we are and what kind of trip we planned. This way you'll know whether or not to keep reading!

This trip was planned for myself and my husband (DH). I am 33 and a professional (PhD level researcher) and DH is 44 and more of a blue collar kind of guy. I have previously been to Europe (London x2; Stockholm) but DH had not.

I love art and culture. I love to randomly wander in neighborhoods and pop into neighborhood restaurants. I could spend hours staring at paintings and love a good book. DH affectionately refers to me as a "nerd" or a "geek." I am not an outdoorsy kind of person....nature really does nothing for me. I don't drink or smoke. My idea of a souvenir usually involves food.

DH loves to laze around and watch TV. His idea of a perfect vacation is renting a houseboat or taking the RV into the mountains. Walking is not his idea of a good time. He drinks and smokes and couldn't care less about souvenirs.

I had been wanting to visit Europe again and I figured the only way I could convince DH was if I picked a city he would be interested in. When I asked him, his first response was "Amsterdam." This is likely due to the marijuana culture. If he had his way our vacation would have been spent only in Amsterdam.

Now, I want to travel the world, so I figured I would add some countries to the trip. This way DH would still get time in Amsterdam and I'd get to see more of Europe.

We started planning the trip in March/April 2010. My work schedule is very flexible but not so much with DH. So I wanted to plan a trip around Labor Day so that he would miss one less day of work. We were originally think to leave the week before Labor Day, but prices were $300pp higher leaving 8/31 versus 9/1. Therefore it was decided we would leave 9/1 and return 9/11.

I began my research by borrowing guidebooks from the library. I had no idea which countries to add. I started reading and decided on adding Belgium. Then I noticed this little country called Luxembourg and thought "Who knows when I'll ever be in this area again, why not squeeze in this little country?" So I added more guidebooks. I relied on Fodors, Frommers, Lonely Planet, Rick Steves, and Thomas Cook. I ended up sticking with Fodors & Rick Steves.

Anyhow, with more research we realized we needed more time and so I added an extra day. Air tickets were purchased approximately 8 weeks out. I tracked fares on Kayak and snagged a great deal on Delta. For hotels I decided to use Priceline and purchased about 6 weeks out. I was able to snag some GREAT deals in Amsterdam, Brussels, Brugges, and Brussels airport.

To get around between countries I decided on using trains. I did a LOT of research about rail passes and decided that it would be financially advantageous to buy a Benelux rail pass (saved us about $20pp plus a lot of time).

I relied a lot on these forums to plan my itinerary. Everything was finalized about 4 weeks prior and I spent those last weeks tying up loose ends and creating my "travel book." This was basically a document that detailed each day's itinerary (open/closing time, train schedules, prices, etc.).

The focus of our trip was:
1. Museums: We went to a LOT of museums, and I went far out of my way to see art (note: My art interests are predominantly expressionism and impressionism).
2. Smoke shops for husband in Amsterdam
3. Churches
4. Cultural sites

We did NOT:
1. Drink any beer or wine
2. Eat at any fancy restaurants

There is the background. I hope that you'll stick around to read about my great trip!!!!

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