A Work-Cation to brag about
June 2014 brings our greatest adventure to date, a month around Europe for work, play, and everything in between.
I’ve always been nervous about planning dinners and birthday celebrations for anyone but there’s much more (self-imposed) pressure to plan a European #turbotour that’s fun and exciting for 2 people. As a fairly un-traveled world traveler, I never imagined I’d be able to fill an ENTIRE month-long work-cation with adventures… What do we DO for 27 days?! Oh how wrong I was. But I certainly didn’t know where to begin – it seemed overwhelming. What if I forgot something? What if we got stranded somewhere? And the worst – What if we pick a hotel with no bathroom door?
We found ourselves researching for hours every night when we got home from work, making spreadsheets, calendars, booking trains, planes, hotels, and tours, creating budgets and planning wardrobes (yes I really planned my daily wardrobe), and somehow it was time. We were planned, booked, packed, and eating our guilty pleasure pre-flight McDonalds. I’ve never been so excited (Ok, maybe when Karate Kid 2 came out, but that doesn’t really count). Here’s how we went about it…
Most of our research was web based, but a lot of it was through suggestions of friends, family, and co-workers. I created a running list by location of suggestions on restaurants and food, attractions, museums, and “musts” with my own notes after researching each place. We inevitably ended up with TOO MAY things to do in the short time we had in each amazing location. How to pick…? We knew we didn’t want to spend every waking hour of personal time on a schedule racing to the next sight. That’s just no fun – it’s all checking off the checkboxes, without taking the time to enjoy and appreciate everything.
Our goal became this: check off one big thing each day, leaving the rest as “if there’s time.” This made planning a LOT easier. We identified one must-do for each day, and put together a rough calendar around our work schedule and weekends. We kept the list of “extras” handy in case we found ourselves wandering around with time to kill. This inevitably led to the ability to schedule trains, flights, and book hotels around the areas and sights we wanted to visit.
Planning: ✓ CHECK!
2 continents, 6 countries, and 9 different cities over 27 days
Ah, the dreaded packing… how do you pack for a trip taking you to 2 continents, 6 countries, and 9 different cities over 27 days? You find images of every item you’re thinking of bringing and place them as outfits on the days you want to wear them in your calendar of course!
Sadly, yes, this is really what I did. What? I told you I was freaked out about forgetting something! In all seriousness I did find this helpful, but it’s WAY too much to do / think about / ever admit you did…
The madness that became my packing list
I did not follow my best advice for packing, but really should have: bring a week’s worth of mix-and-match neutral toned outfits, and accessorize with bright colors. This should give you a 2-week wardrobe you can recycle after a wash and coffee along your journey.
All the extras
I feel super proud with our special packing picks, so I’m just going to share a few of the “essentials” in case you want to tell me how smart I am some time:
- MEDS: Travel size ADVIL gels, Alkaselzer, Airborn chewables, single-use eye drops (mini eyedroppers)
- chapstick, lip balm, lip ANYTHING
- The most awesome converter ever
- Zip vacuum bags for packing clothes
- Curling rod / straightening iron space saving combo tool
- Laundry bags – one for colors, one for whites (easier to do laundry on the road if you pre-sort!)
- Rain flats for the ever-moody London are a must! So cute AND functional!
- Mini nail polish remover wipes
- Cucumber eye pads for puffy eyes after red eye flights or for red eyes after late nights
- Coolest eye mask of all time! You can BLINK while you wear it!
- Travel febreez – great for eliminating scary smells in hotels and european cigarette smoke from jeans you have to make last for a couple weeks…
Keeping track of all the travel details, bookings, reservations, addresses, tickets, etc. can become a part-time job in itself (I’m pretty sure I could be a fairly successful travel agent with my newly acquired skills). I stayed sane by using a fancy, handy-dandy spreadsheet template I found on the apple iWorks program Numbers. It came ready made with tabs for calendar, budget, reservations, itinerary, and a packing list. You can share the file with others, so everyone can contribute and review, and there’s a mobile app you can download as well so you’ve got everything at all times no matter what country you’re lost in, or what computer you have access to. #LOVE #SECURITYBLANKET #TECHNOLOGYROCKS
At the end of the day my nervous OCD, late nights, constant questions and relentless drive for decision making paid off. It taught me a lot about myself, and showed me that it’s not so scary to plan an adventure of a lifetime with my favorite #Person. After all, how could that ever turn out bad? It just couldn’t.