Planning, planning and more planning. It has consumed my life over the past few weeks. Some of it quick, easy, efficient. Most of it long and excruciating.
With the big five week break approaching in April (time UK universities give you after the end of classes, but before exams in May), my classmates and I have been tasked with figuring out what we should do with all of our free time. We have a month in Europe. A month in Europe with the luxury of not having to worry about missing school or work or any real responsibilities.
It’s an opportunity that some people dream of having.
“The experience of putting together something like this is worthwhile, and seeing the plans progress towards completion is quite fulfilling.”
And here we are, doing our best to make sure that we make the absolute most of it. Because who knows if we’ll ever have a month off of obligations again? Who knows if we’ll ever have the funds to make something like this happen? Who knows if we’ll ever be back?
With college graduation only two short years away, along with the expectations of getting a job and creating a successful adult life for ourselves that come along with that, this may be our last chance for a long time to live our lives without having to worry about the uncertainty that follows. As a result, figuring out the best and most efficient itinerary through Europe — one that includes everything possible while also staying within a budget — becomes quite the challenge.
But it’s a necessary one nonetheless.
Not going to lie, I kind of envisioned planning a trip like this to be straightforward and effortless. Give me an hour and I’ll get it done. I was wrong. The amount of research we have been putting in to figure out where to go, when to go where, and how to get where is staggering.
We’re tasked with figuring out the cheapest routes, whether it is by bus, train, plane, or even ferry. Finding the cheapest (and hopefully habitable) accommodations, from hostels, to hotels, to Airbnbs. Deciding on what points of interest are worth visiting, for how long, and what to do in those places. Not to mention working on this with 3, 4 sometimes 5 people, all with different agendas and expectations for their month in Europe. Juggling who wants to go where, when, and who they want to go with.
The process is long, difficult, and frustrating.
With that said (as I notice it sounds like I’m complaining), it certainly could be a lot worse. The experience of putting together something like this is worthwhile, and seeing the plans progress towards completion is quite fulfilling. Apps like the previously mentioned Airbnb, along with HostelWorld, Rome2rio and GoEuro have helped with finding living and transportation. Search engines such as Google Flights and Skyscanner have been helpful in finding the cheapest possible flights, making it easy to scroll between days and cities. Websites like TripAdvisor and Reddit have helped distinguish what cities are the priority based on what we’re interested in, along with what to do in each city once we’re there.
I have found that although having too many people can complicate things at times, if you find some with the same intentions as you it can make it way easier, essentially dividing the man hours. Google Docs and GroupMe make it easy to provide a central platform to share links and ideas. Venmo allows for seamless transferring of money to pay others back. Despite the struggles, there are undoubtedly plenty of tools that help with what could otherwise be a far more grueling process.
And now finally for the plan itself. For the sake of time and to avoid digressing, I’m going to spare you from all of the intricacies of it. The transportation and where I’ll be staying — those things that took so long to figure out — are insignificant details to you. Instead, I’m just going to lay out every country I’ll likely be visiting at some point this April, in order, and according to the plan!
Where I’ve been so far:
- England, obviously (London, Manchester)
- Scotland (Edinburgh, Inverness, Glasgow)
- Ireland (Dublin)
- Iceland (Reykjavik and the surrounding countryside)
Where I’m going:
- Luxembourg (Luxembourg City)
- Belgium (Brussels)
- Netherlands (Amsterdam)
- France (Paris)
- Italy (Milan, Venice, Florence (Pisa), Rome, Naples (Pompeii, Amalfi Coast) and Sicily)
- Croatia (Zadar, Zagreb)
- Hungary (Budapest)
- Czech (Prague)
- Germany (Munich, Berlin)
We’re spending 1-2 days in each individual city. There are surely a few attractions we left out, such as Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Southern France, Greece and Turkey, among others. However, it was asking too much to fit these in without creating a course of action that would either wear out us, or wear out our budgets. As a result, I am hoping to find a way to visit some of these places later in the school year or early in the summertime.
Despite the stresses that putting all of this together presented us with, the overall excitement and anticipation never faded, and now it is just a matter of time until it is all vindicated when the plan finally becomes a reality and we can enjoy our month in Europe!
Davis Elgin is a second year applied mathematics major. He is studying at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom for the entire spring semester.