3 months - to plan or not to plan?

Oct 13th, 2012, 11:00 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2012
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3 months - to plan or not to plan?

My husband and I are wanting to travel for 12-14 weeks in Europe, July - Oct 2016. We are both going to be 36 then, and are not sure whether we are best to book our flights/trains, and accommodation, in advance, or wing it while we're there. We're locked into La Tomatina in Valencia in August, and Oktoberfest (will always have a little party-animal in our souls!) in Munich in September, and are wanting to visit: Paris, Prague, Dublin, London, Split or Athens, Budapest, Rome, Amsterdam, Monaco. Everything else in between is a nice-to-have, not a must-see. Would you recommend planning and pre-booking, or just landing in Dublin, and winging our way around?
MrsKahu is offline  
Oct 13th, 2012, 11:46 PM
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At this point it's all so hypothetical that I suggest you ask again in about 3 years. Lots can change in that time so enjoy the possibilities and don't decide a thing until you must.
MmePerdu is online now  
Oct 13th, 2012, 11:47 PM
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that's one hell of a forward plan!

Seriously, nothing to stop you doing a load of research, but you won't find hotels taking reservations for that period much before the beginning of 2015, if then.

one thing you might like to look at is the order in which you are going to visit these places, how you're going to get between them and how long you give them. also why you are going there in the first place - Monaco for example would not be on most people's lists as a must see, Nice OTOH might well be.

you could always wing it, but where you are going to need flights, and bearing in mind it's a summertime itinerary, I would be tending to going down the pre-booking route, especially in Munich and all the capital cities. [and i'm someone who prefers not to do that if I can]. BTW, 12-14 weeks is not as long as it sounds, by the time you factor in the number of places you have already ear-marked, travel days, [you lose at least 1/2 a day every time you move] orientation days [places like Paris and Rome suck up time as you get to know the transport system, where you are in relation to the things you want to see, etc]. rest days - you'll need some of them!

have you decided on your entry and exit airports? round trip or open jaw?
annhig is offline  
Oct 14th, 2012, 12:00 AM
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Since all those countries except UK and Ireland are in Schengen, make sure your Schengen stay lasts no more than 90 days within 180 days. I'm presuming you don't have a passport from an EEA country or Switzerland.
Alec is offline  
Oct 14th, 2012, 06:59 AM
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I investigate, plan, plot, review and schedule but even for me 2016 is not that far out. We in our 60s established a bucket list after 45 years of traveling, so down to a few places.

We went to Venice, Florence, Siena and Perugia for 2 months total. Florence to me was a prime example of must be plan ahead planning. Some site are open on Monday, except for the lst Monday; closed Tuesday except for the next to last Tuesday; and I swear some places are closed when there's a full moon.

Did you read a few months ago about Arnold Schaunzager going to the Taj Mahal and it was closed that day!!!!

No problem getting a broad overview of when you want to be someplace, and in a few weeks it'll be 2013 and your trip won't be that far away.

Actually for our Italy trip, spent 5 years in the planning. that included gathering frequent flyer miles, consolidating them, buying them when they offered 50% more and transferring them to my account from airline partner accunts. To then redeem the miles you need to do it a year out. This also means figuring 362 days out and them becoming available. We went to Russia and into Moscow and out St. Pete and same airlines don't service both cities so had to figure outhow to use the tics and tha meant Moscow first and depart from St. Pete. Good luck.
jan47ete is offline  
Oct 14th, 2012, 07:24 AM
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You'll be going to 2 to 3 locations each week (depending on amount of travel time) which is not a lot of time in most of these places. If you want to spend precious time trying to find hotels and flights that fit your budget then you can wing it.

You're starting out in July so if you don't book your outbound flight ahead of time, and given that most flights are fully booked, you may be disappointed when you get to the airport and find that there are no flights that day or there are not two seats on any plane.

If you do not have any type of budget and don't mind waiting for another flight/train you'll be fine making arrangements at the last minute.

I personally always book ahead (unless I'm staying in a small town and it's not peak season) since I'd rather spend my time sightseeing or sipping wine in a cafe then running around looking for a place to sleep.
adrienne is offline  
Oct 14th, 2012, 07:53 AM
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adrienne - i was crediting the OP with enough sense to know that they'll need to book flights ahead of time, which as you say is going to make "winging it" pretty difficult.

in fact I think that one of the hardest parts of planning this trip is going to be working out the best route - a trip that includes Valencia and split/athens is not going to be simple to organise.
annhig is offline  
Oct 14th, 2012, 08:00 AM
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If arnold was surprised guess how Mrs S Palin felt when she found that someone had built a wall in Isreal.
bilboburgler is offline  
Oct 14th, 2012, 11:18 AM
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We're definitely going to be booking our outbound flights - we're flying from NZ, so will be looking for good deals then too. We were thinking of flying into Dublin, doing Ireland and the UK, then train to Paris to work our way around Europe, not set yet on final destination (as it were), but thinking maybe Amsterdam. We've both done organized tours before, so have snapshots of most places, just wanting a little more in depth, and we're not bothered by losing half a day to travel, especially of its train - preferable to losing and entire day on a bus, then having to pitch tents in the dark!!! Hotels this time thanks!
MrsKahu is offline  
Oct 14th, 2012, 01:02 PM
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For Oktoberest in Munich, you obviously need hotel reservations. I can personally recommend the Hotel Uhland, which is a classy B&B in an old mansion just around the corner from Oktoberfest park. They book up really early, but probably have an openong now for 2016!
PeaceOut is offline  
Oct 14th, 2012, 01:11 PM
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Actually we are doing Paris to Dublin in April and cheaper and easier to fly than train unless you are taking the train from London to Paris.
jan47ete is offline  
Oct 15th, 2012, 12:59 AM
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Mrs. Kauhu,

the plan you have might work "off season" [in so far as there is an odd season for Rome, Venice, Prague, etc.] but there are a number of problems inherent in your plan:

1. you will be doing it in peak summer season when places will be full and the weather hot.

2. the places you want to see are dotted pretty liberally around europe and trains don't necessarily go where and when you want them to.

3. you have a couple of fixed points - Valencia in August and the Oktoberfest in September - you are definitely going to need to book for the latter.

There are probably a few others i can't think of.

I'm not saying it's impossible but IMO it's the routing of this trip which is going to be particularly difficult.
annhig is offline  

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