Hints from Fodor’s: Hint #1
When planning multi-stop tours, the most important thing is to allocate enough time to fully experience each destination. This can vary by city, but at an absolute minimum, you should plan for two full dawn-to-dusk days in major capitals—ideally more. Travelers benefit from time to shed the underlying anxiety of intercity travel and fully immerse themselves in their temporary provenance.
I once heard of some travelers who took a day trip to London from Paris just because they wanted to see the city. They spent five hours traveling between them and only a few hours on a bus tour of one of the world’s most fascinating cities. They could certainly say they had “seen” London, but it is debatable whether they actually experienced it.
When I make several stops, other than to change planes, I try to use the “two day” rule. I arrive, spend two nights in a hotel, then leave for the next destination. Of course, I spend more time when one of the cities is Athens.
But on my last trip to Europe, I used the following itinerary: Frankfurt (1 day), Athens (3), Belgrade (2), Croatia (10), Paris (3), Frankfurt (1). My upcoming trip will go as follows, at least for now: Munich (2 days), Lisboa (2), Porto (2), Slovenia/Albania (4), Munich (1), Istanbul (1).
Hint #2 Pack Light
Travelers can pack lighter by selecting lightweight, durable clothes that can easily be washed in a hotel sink. Unless you’re going to fashion week, nobody is going to care about your sartorial choices, so you don’t need a variety of coordinated outfits with matching shoes. You’ll be grateful you didn’t take the big suitcase when you find the hotel elevator only has enough room for yourself and a small bag.
Packing light is also a good reason to watch stay lengths. Scheduling two consecutive nights at the same hotel also helps travelers pack lighter–hotel laundry service typically takes a full business day.
The challenge on this trip is packing for both warmer (southern Europe), and colder (mid or northern Europe), with the warmer part first. It would be smarter to start in the old countries, shed clothing (donate), and end up in warm weather.
Hint #3 Plan Transportation First
It is much easier to arrange flights and rail first, then add in the accommodations. And you know I love to use public transportation.
Hint #4 Don’t Over Plan
This is a vacation, after all. I try to plan at most, two big events each day. This could be a Hop On Hop Off bus, museum, bike ride, local market or wine tasting. Anything more is just crazy, believe me, I have tried!!! Schedule some pool or beach time, even a nap, spa, or long coffee break.
Hint #5 Don’t be afraid to talk to strangers
Of all of my advice, this ranks up there at the top. Meeting other travelers, locals, and total strangers is high on my list. It is the best way to learn about the local culture, where to eat, what to visit, and what to avoid. A few times, this has resulted in lifelong friends, like Barry the V from Cape Town, Jason and Chun from Penang, Dirty Pat at the Super Bowl, Katy from the UK (but a real digital nomad), and my adopted Greek brothers (Stavros, Giorgos and Vasilis) in Athens.
So, I now expect each of you who have never taken a solo trip, to do so at your earliest possible time. You will never regret it. You will learn more about yourself than taking Philosophy 101 or reading Ann Landers!