I am going to Europe.
And now it’s FOR REAL, because after three months of forgetting all about this blog—but not about my trip—you know what I did just yesterday?
I bought my freakin’ tickets.
I really did! Thanks to a well timed gift of frequent flyer miles from my parents (the best), I was able to score the most amazing deal on airfare. I wasn’t planning on booking my flights to and from Europe until after getting my tax refund, because I wanted to have about 70% of my overall trip budget securely in my savings account before truly committing. (The idea being, of course, that even if something really crappy were to happen later this year that would thwart my savings efforts, at least I would already have enough money socked away to still have a nice trip, even if it’d be on an even tighter budget than expected.)
But the cache of frequent flyer miles changed everything, obviously. After just a few hours of searching flight itineraries I realized something that any seasoned awards traveler already knows, which is: holy cow, those primo flights go quickly. Seriously, I’d refresh the page and the flight I wanted would already be gone, in just the span of a few minutes. So when I finally found a great flight combo that worked with my preferred travel dates and dream itinerary, I jumped on it.
And now it’s real! This September, I’m hopping a flight to London, and returning three weeks later from Madrid. And the best part is I had enough miles to book it all first class and it only cost me $500 cash—in other words, less than half of what my original budget had been for economy airfare (I’d originally budgeted about $1200). For someone who literally describes herself in the sidebar to this blog as having “first class tastes, but an economy class budget,” this is pretty much the best thing that could’ve possibly happened to me at this stage in my trip planning.
But, because lucky breaks come and go, THIS is where the true moral of the story comes in: I was actually able to buy my trip on a moment’s notice, right when a great deal came my way, because I was completely and freakishly prepared. You guys, I knew I wasn’t a weirdo for starting to obsessively plan the day-to-day of my trip months ago!
My original plan had been to end my vacation in Rome, but for some bizarre reason there were no good flights back to the U.S. from Italy. None from Paris, either, which was another city on my itinerary. But there was one—literally just one great option, hidden among dozens of clunkers—out of Madrid that was perfect. And because I’ve been obsessively planning how the various legs of my trip could interlock, down to the literal minute of the day, I knew immediately that I could swap Italy with Spain in my trip itinerary with no extra cost or time expended.
So there it is. “Be prepared” isn’t just a motto for boy scouts, but also for travelers on a budget.
Also: I’M GOING TO EUROPE.
I will post more later, after I get a hold on what to do next. I knew enough to buy my travel insurance policy today, but beyond that I admit I’m completely floored by the fact that this is actually happening and a little overwhelmed that it’s time to actually, like, book my hotels (my research has already shown me that some of the properties I like are already booked up for my dates, because they’re that rare combo of super cheap and also not terrifying places to stay). But I’ll do that later… First, I’m just gonna bask in this reality for a minute. 🙂