Finalizing The Fall 2019 Travel Plans
They say that as you get older, time feels like it’s passing faster. If that’s true, I must have aged significantly this year. Because I honestly don’t know where the past nine months have gone.
In some ways, I still feel like I just got back from my six-week sabbatical trip to Europe. I'm aware that it’s been almost a year since that trip (and a year since I’ve left the country... yikes). But that trip was so unusual that I guess on some level I’m still surprised I did it.
Was that really me? That quit my job without another one lined up and ended up taking three months OFF WORK? With half that time spent wandering aimlessly around my favorite continent, drinking life-changing Italian cappuccinos to my heart’s content?
So far in 2019, there hasn’t been much aimless wandering. Or enough life-changing cappuccinos.
But thankfully, that’s about to change.
The Fall 2019 Travel Plans
After returning from my six-week sabbatical trip last fall, I took another full-time finance job that started in January 2019. Since then I’ve only taken one week off work. During that week in May, I made some serious progress on the dining room at the fifties fixer upper and spent a fabulous long weekend in Chicago. But since we’re about to enter the fourth quarter of 2019, it goes without saying that I’m a bit behind on my travel goals this year.
Fortunately, I have a plan to catch up.
Or, more accurately, I have two plans.
I want to visit several countries in Europe this fall, so the most logical option would be to buy one flight, take one trip, and visit all the countries at once. Unfortunately, taking multiple weeks of vacation time consecutively is frowned upon in many full-time work environments (read: every employer I’ve ever worked for is not a fan of consecutive weeks off). So, I’m working with what I have. Instead of taking one two-week trip, I’m taking two week-long trips to Europe in back-to-back months:
In October I’m going to Spain, and in November I’m heading to the U.K.
Why Spain and the U.K.?
Believe it or not, I haven’t been to Spain since I was 17 (on my very first trip abroad) and I’ve only been to Madrid. Barcelona is one of those cities that people tell me I’ll love so often that I figured it was about time I finally went there and fell in love in person. One of my friends also just finished graduate school and is living in Madrid, so I’m planning to meet up with her, drink copious amounts of sangria, and catch up on life. The trip is a bit shorter than I would prefer (I’m only spending 7 days in Spain, instead of the usual 10), but it does include a long weekend in Boston on the back end. Since Boston is another one of those cities people tell me I’ll love ALL THE TIME, I’m excited to finally visit.
A few weeks after returning from Spain and Boston, I’ll be flying back across the Atlantic to visit my favorite city in the world. I’m not sure what exactly it is about London that I love, which is probably why I've been trying and failing to write a blog post explaining it for the past three years. I’ll spend a weekend wandering around London, pretending I live there and drinking as many cappuccinos as possible, then I’ll fly up to Belfast (a new city to me) to visit a friend in graduate school. We’ll end the trip in Dublin, then I’ll fly out from there back to Nashville.
Where I’ll work the rest of the year with no days off, because I’m using every single vacation day I have left (and every single dollar left in my 2019 travel budget) for these two trips.
Finalizing the Travel Plans
At this point, I have all the international flights booked. I also have hostels booked in Madrid and in Boston for the first trip. My next priority is to book accommodation in Barcelona and a train from Madrid to Barcelona and back (after I finish this blog post, of course). Aside from the flight, I have a grand total of nothing planned for my trip to the U.K. in November. Luckily, I still have some time to get that one finalized.
If you’re cringing at the thought of how much all these flights cost, believe me, I was too when I realized I was going to have to do this in two separate trips. Fortunately, I was able to keep the total cost under what I would normally pay for one international flight through a combination of Scott’s Cheap Flights, credit card points, flight alerts and good luck. I'm planning to follow this post up with a case study specifically about these flights for my fellow travel hacking nerds, so I’ll link that here when it is done.
But before I write that one, I really should go find a hostel or Airbnb in Barcelona.
Until next time...
If you have any Madrid, Barcelona, Belfast or Dublin tips (specifically favorite restaurants, places to take photos, or the best cappuccinos) please let me know. I’d also love to hear about your travel plans this fall. Where are you headed next? Let me know in the comments!