Our Planning Process

This page will be of more interest if you are contemplating a nomad lifestyle. We have been asked about the planning process we used for this four month trip to Europe. We began with the fact that Paris was one of our favorite cities in the world. Bruce had been there for three days with a museum group in 2006 and Susan had been there twenty years ago. We both agreed that a month in Paris was our top priority. We both felt that if we can’t make this nomad thing work in Paris, we can’t make it work anywhere.

Next we decided we were going to try a repositioning cruise as a relaxing way to get from the US to Europe. We live on the SC coast and Susan loves the beach, so we decided we wanted to leave as late in the spring as we could so we could get some beach time in before we left. This led us to a Celebrity cruise to Amsterdam at the end of April. Since neither of us had seen Amsterdam or Brussels, we decided we should spend a few sightseeing days at each on the way to Paris.

Since the beaches at home are very crowded until mid August, we decided we wanted to stay in Europe until mid-August. However, Europe has the Schengen Agreement which prohibits being in Europe for more than 90 days in any 180 day period. But not all countries are signatories to the agreement with Great Britain and Ireland being notable exceptions. Since Bruce had been pushing to visit Ireland ever since we were married, he finally carried the day to keep us from getting in trouble with immigration.

Finally, we decided to see Spain after Paris and before Ireland. Susan had been there before and liked it. Bruce had seen little of Spain previously, but knew it had a lot of outstanding sights. We picked Sevilla as a nice city to spend a month based primarily on reading Rick Steves. In addition we thought it would be fun to spend a couple weeks at a Spanish beach. We originally thought we should go to southern Spain, but Rick was so negative on that, we switched to San Sebastián. We think that was a good decision as we really loved our two weeks there. Again we did some sightseeing for a few days in Madrid and Granada since it was easy to pass through them on the way to Seville. We put all the cities visited in a logical order to minimize travel. None of this probably applies to your situation, but perhaps it outlines a thought process to use.

While we saw some great sights on the days we were in hotels, we both prefer the days in apartments. There is more room, we can prepare some of our own meals, and the pace is more relaxed.

We booked all our lodging and transportation before we left home. First, it is easier to do from home where I have a computer and most every page I look at is in English. Second, there is enough research do do when we are here planning activities, day trips, and restaurants. Third, we were afraid that the best places would be booked if we waited until we got here. Fourth, train tickets are much cheaper if you get them when they first go on sale which is typically ninety days in advance.

We used VRBO or Homeaway for all our apartment lodging. It has worked out fine, but in the future I am going to give serious consideration to Airbnb since they have more protections built in for both the owner and the renter. We used some combination of Rick Steves, Tripadvisor, and Kayak to select the hotels. We relied heavily on Rick Steves and Googling city pairs to determine the best mode of transportation between cities. The buses have been fine in Spain and are less hassle than the train and much less hassle than flying. The trains were significantly faster in France, so we used trains there.

We have also been asked what challenges we have faced. We have compiled a list and divided up the writing, so we should have that posted in the next few weeks. If you have a question on the planning process, please leave it as a comment and we will respond. Also, if you have a planning experience you would like to share, please leave it as a comment also.

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The Travel Blog of Susan and Bruce