Several months ago I ran a poll and asked my readers what they wanted from The Voyageer: more personalized writing, or more general stuff like itineraries and reviews? The result was split 50/50, so in this post I’ll share the decision-making process that I use when planning an elaborate international trip. Maybe it will help you tackle your own, if you want to do the same, but don’t know where to begin.
We’re Heading to Europe!
I am so happy and relieved to write that my much-talked-about trip to Prague this fall is finally booked. There were a lot of things up in the air that prevented me booking sooner: my recommended international travel timeline would’ve had me locking this down in April. However, the final piece of the puzzle finally clicked into place and flights have been purchased. Eee! We leave in two months.
How did I plan this itinerary? My mother chose Prague, and asked that we join here for a few days as a family trip. Before and after our days in Prague, however, I was free to plan whatever I wanted. I have friends in Strasbourg who have extended an invitation multiple times, so I knew that must fit in somehow. After nailing down those two “musts,” the rest of the trip kind of filled in itself.
- 11 days + 2 travel days:
- Fly from San Diego to Prague, via Heathrow.
- 3 days exploring Prague.
- Spend 3 days road tripping from Prague to Strasbourg, France, through Bavaria (Germany).
- 3 days in Strasbourg.
- Take a hopper flight down to Milan
- Fly home from Milan after 2 days.
Booking using Miles/Rewards:
This trip was my first time booking international travel using airline miles. I’m still a newbie at the reward travel game. I signed up for the Alaska Airlines credit card 4 years ago and have been hoarding miles ever since. I’m proud to say as a result I booked round-trip tickets to Europe for about $250 per person (plus approx. 60,000 miles per person).
I’ll do a followup post outlining how I booked using miles, but know this: When using your miles, try to be flexible with your dates and cities in order to get the best deal. I ended up with a unique itinerary which will land me in 6 cities I have never visited before!
You may have noticed a twist ending on my itinerary, up there. Ending in Milan? Fabulous, right? but random! Well, since we were booking with miles, the flight prices were different than if we were just using cash. The website will tell you how many miles to get somewhere plus a dollar amount for taxes and fees. Some countries were really expensive to fly into, others were expensive to fly out of, and some were just plain expensive. For example, a previous version of this trip had us beginning in Budapest and working our way towards Strasbourg. However, booking with miles, we noticed 2 things: every flight that fit our budget had an absurdly long layover in Philadelphia, and there are special fees and surcharges that made flying to Budapest a bad candidate for reward travel. (Would still love to go someday!)