It’s officially less than a week until our summer vacation to Europe, and I can’t wait!!! I’m the type of person who enjoys the planning and anticipation of the event almost as much as the actual thing, so I’ve been reading other travel blogs and doing my research for months now. I’ve learned a lot, and created this massive spreadsheet with a ton of information (I know, I’m slightly touched in the head).
The last stop on our itinerary is a week in Paris, the city of lights. I’m currently reading a book by David Lebovitz, an American chef living in Paris, called The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious – and Perplexing – City. I must say, the book has been making me chuckle heartily and looking forward to interacting with Parisians and eating French foods, but it also has made me very wary of the thought of being completely surrounded by Parisians.
I will plan to be on my very best behavior and say “Bonjour” to everyone I come across, since it seems Parisians find it very rude when they are not greeted – in any setting, whether you are walking into a store, an elevator, or the waiting room of a doctor’s office. However, I also discovered that Parisians have a way of cutting in line at any chance they get. My Jamaican-ness is immediately channeled at the very thought. Mek dem try it…mi ready fi dem! I may smile at perfect strangers for no reason like a true North American, but my face will definitely look different if someone tries to cut in front of me in line, despite being the daughter of one of the most infamous line-cutters of all time.
Anyways, back to planning my trip. I started out with Pinterest, as most of my research on anything really begins, searching for the cities we will be visiting and going on a pinning frenzy. Later on when I had more dedicated planning time, I went back to my pin collection, coffee mug in hand and a fluffy pillow behind my back, and browsed through a plethora of travel blog pages that gave so many tips and tricks for visiting the places I was interested in. My favorite posts for this step of the travel-planning process are the ones that provide a concise list of the things the writer most enjoyed about the city/country. These provide a great starting point, and sometimes will include a sweet insider tip that you otherwise wouldn’t have known about, like a hidden gem of a cafe on a cozy cobblestone street, or a picturesque photo opp off the beaten path.
After a lot of digging around on the internet, I created a spreadsheet with the “must-do’s”, “would be really cool if we could”, and “if we have extra time” things for each destination. I had separate tabs for sightseeing and eating, because let’s be honest, for me, food alone is reason enough to visit a place. Jerk pork sausage, patties, and rum in Jamaica, crab feasts and oysters in Maryland, and chocolate, waffles, fries, and beer in Belgium. It’s just what you do; you can’t achieve the full experience without them.
After putting together my spreadsheet, which included entry prices, locations, and any tips I found about what’s good or when is best to visit a place, I went a step further and grouped places together in clusters that I thought would make up a solid itinerary for each day. From there I can prioritize what we can really get done and still feel like we’re on vacation and not just running from place to place, and we’ll also know what else is nearby if we end up being finished with one place sooner than we thought.
For Paris in particular, I added up the a la carte costs of all the museums and attractions we were interested in going to and comparing them to the cost of the Paris Pass and Museum Pass. We ended up deciding that for us, the Paris Pass wasn’t worth it, but the Museum Pass would save us up to 50% if we ended up doing everything we wanted to do, and was still a great deal even if we were only able to see 2 museums per day. We also will be taking advantage of the free first Sunday of the month to go to a couple of museums for free, so we won’t need the pass for that day. As recommended by several bloggers and travel pros, we won’t be visiting the Louvre on the free day since it will likely be extra-packed.
We did go ahead and purchase some of the train tickets between our destinations online ahead of time if we had a solid plan that we knew wouldn’t change, but for the days when we wanted more flexibility we will just buy the tickets at the station when we’re ready to go. We also bought travel insurance from World Nomads.
I’m starting to get emails from Airbnb, letting me know that our various apartment stays are right around the corner. I’M SO EXCITED! I’m just about ready to start packing and then sit on my suitcase at the font door until it’s time to head to the airport. Unfortunately, I still have to show up at work everyday this week (including the day we depart, since our flight heads out at 7pm), so that’s not really a viable option for me.
So instead I’ll settle for writing this blog post, making Europe playlists on Spotify, and making sure we have all the things we’ll need to take with us, like mini toothpaste and a Euro adapter/converter for charging our phones.
Oh, and watching every Netflix movie that is set in the places we’re going, of course!