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Europe Preparation

Author
by Troy Grosfield
Date
May 25th, 2010
Category
Travel
Story

Setting up the Europe trip was quite stressful at times. When you first start thinking about planning it doesn’t seem it would be all too complicated. Boy was I wrong. There are many things to factor in when planning such a large trip.

First off, we weren’t arriving and departing from the same city, which made finding airfare very challenging. We ended up going through a travel agent for the flight to and from Europe. She was very helpful and did a great job connecting the flights where she could. I met Monica in Philadelphia and we will be flying together to Amsterdam. Sam, my cousin, will be flying in from Miami and will meet us at the Amsterdam airport.

Once we had the large flights booked, we needed to figure out all the places we wanted to see given the time we had. Sam had a friend in Catania, Italy (Sicily) who offered us a place to stay. So that was one destination we knew we wanted to hit. We talked about trying to hit Paris, but didn’t have enough time to make it there. So we settled on flying into Amsterdam to see the Netherlands and José’s concerts. Then to Catania to visit Sam’s friend (who will be joining us in Amsterdam). Then to Rome for a few days where Monica and Sam will be departing back to the U.S. Then my dad is going to meet up in Rome where we will spend a few days before heading to Greece.

We decided on Greece before they started rioting and protesting so that could be a very interesting experience.

Once we had all the destinations we had to find airfare. I had heard about two different sites that were good to use for flying within Europe:

  1. easyjet.com
  2. ryanair.com

We went with easyjet because they seemed to have more flight options to the places we wanted to travel to. That solved our European flights. My only complaint with them was trying to pay was a pain in the butt. They didn’t take any of my cards so we had to use one of Sam’s cards that did work. Then they charged us a large amout for processing the transaction. Also, before you use a card, make sure to find out if you card charges foreign transaction fees. This can cost you up to additional 3% of the total cost since the transaction is in euros. The only card I found that doesn’t change foreign transaction fees is capital one which is also why I plan on using my capital one card for almost all my purchases overseas. Another thing to lookout for is the luggage weight. Normal US flights have a baggage weight limit of 50 lbs. Easyjet charges you for the weight of your bags and the limit is 20 kg or 44 lbs.

The next challenge was finding places to stay. I found this to be one of the more difficult things because we won’t have a car so we wanted to be fairly centrally located so it would be easy to get around. Sam had mentioned looking into apartments which was actually a great suggestion because they were about the same price as a hotel, but had a full kitchen, more space, and couches. So the research began. Looking into what touristy stuff we wanted to hit up and if there were any places close by. When all was said and done we ended up with apartments pretty much everywhere we are planning on staying.

The last thing to look into was to find out what attractions were around the city. Each or our destinations seem to be full of places to visit for tourists. We have a few places marked on the maps. Hopefully we can hit those up and wing it from there. Europe here we come!

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