I already mentioned that the Europe trip was a big deal for me. It was the longest vacation I've ever taken and the furthest I've ever travelled. But, it was also the biggest trip I've ever planned.
Sure, we had picked out the cities we wanted to go to, but then we had to figure out how to get to them, and when, oh and where we'd be sleeping. And the rental car! Can't forget that! Are the passports still valid? Better get those updated! This trip occupied a large part of my brain for a long time. I don't know how people plan a wedding and a honeymoon at roughly the same time. I guess thats why they pay other people to do it for them?
Thankfully I had friends who could impart wisdom from their travels, and it was a huge help. And I seriously do not know what I would have done without the internet.
One friend helped me figure out a rough schedule for how long we'd be in each place (thanks Jennie!). For some reason I couldn't wrap my head around the timing, so she put together a spreadsheet for me to work from, and it was perfect. Another friend sent me a bunch of links about insurance for renting cars in Europe, which saved us a chunk of change. And thanks to the internet, we were able to book all of our hotels (and research exactly where they were located and find the best price), order Oyster cards for the Tube so we had them in hand and ready to go after we landed, order our Eurostar tickets to get from London to Brussels, and book the apfel wine brewery tour. While I'm not necessarily one of those "plan every single detail down to the minute" type of people, I did want to take care of as much as I could before we left and I think it made me less anxious to know we had a place to sleep and transportation for all the places we were going.
Typing it all out now, it doesn't seem like it was such a big deal, but it took a long time to get everything sorted out. Traveling that far and that long means you've got to make plans for the things you're leaving behind as well, like the mail and your cats (the mail was MUCH easier to figure out than the cats). Deciding what to do about the cats was a major stress factor, but once we figured it out, I felt SO much better.
Planning the trip was definitely a learning experience, but I also ended up learning a little bit about myself once we were actually traveling. After we arrived somewhere, I needed time to sort of collect my thoughts and get my bearings. You know, look at a map and figure out where things were. I finally realized this after we arrived in Bruges. We checked in at the hotel and basically walked out the door to explore and I realized I was quickly becoming grumpy. Partially due to hunger, but also because I needed to situate myself in a new town. So we found a cafe, ordered some food, and I checked out some maps and brochures. I was in a much better mood after that.
The other thing I realized is that the husband and I travel pretty well together. This was the longest trip we'd ever taken together, and aside from a couple of minor incidents, it was all good. One of those incidents was while we were lost in Ghent trying to find our hotel. It was stressful for him as the driver, and me as the passenger/navigator, and when he saw that I was about to lose it, he handled it amazingly well (I think I'll keep him).
Now that's it all over, I've got all this free time because I'm NOT planning a big trip. I'm not sure what to do with myself. Maybe I'll actually start updating my blog regularly!
(Don't hold your breath on that one.)