So, where I’ve been is down the black hole of trip planning- the internet. If anyone has done this and is a Trip Advisor junkie like me, you know it’s quicksand. It’s all encompassing. I’ll get myself bogged down with details like what did people think was the best room location, etc and it’s all over. I’ve wasted another perfectly good afternoon debating the pros and cons of a place that doesn’t even have availability for me! Arrgh!! After that, I decided not to let myself see the hotel photos or customer comments and went straight for the available dates. Duh. That was also after clicking on about 100 other places that, my friend Trip Advisor said, “I might like,” which kept flashing on the sidebar! God help ADD types like me. Of course I ended up booking something a friend recommended, and none of the others after all that time. (Thank you Stefanie by the way!)
The trip is for 10 days or so this Summer to England, and meandering to Northern Germany. All I know is that we have flights coming in to London and leaving from Frankfurt. We used our frequent flyer miles to start and end at those places. We will take the chunnel or Eurostar as we have before from the U.K. to France. I’m hoping to plan out a trip that includes Belgium and Holland on the way to Germany. The rest is up to me and my internet sleuthing. That’s usually how I figure these trips out. And also through the kind recommendations from others, like Stef. I would never consider using a travel agent because planning and researching is one of the best parts of travel to me. Also I would never want to let anyone else choose my hotel for me, (and that includes my husband!) Accomodations are an afterthought to him, That’s where we are polar opposites.. He’s Travel Lodge while I’m Four Seasons and so we meet somewhere in the middle.
We have been to London twice and I never can get enough time there. All I can think is tea time, scones, Liberty, Pimm’s Cups, royal palaces, Jane Austen, Wimbledon, the list is endless and I love it all. Planning that part was pretty easy. I just had to find either an apartment or a hotel there and that took some time. Thing is, once your kids get to 12+ age people don’t want the 4 of you crowding into 2 big beds, even if it would work. So they either add a huge fee daily (don’t forget the lovely VAT charge) or they make you check in to a,”family” room which is usually about 5 inches larger and $100 more expensive.
|the curious bumblebee|
On trips past, we have done apartments and that has been very positive and so much more affordable since there are no VAT or extra fees. Everyone gets a bed or even a room, and you have a kitchen if you need it, couches, and more space. The best part is you get to know a neighborhood and I love that.
You find the bakeries, little shops and cafe’s that would otherwise never be discovered staying in a big hotel in the touristy areas. Many are even serviced like a hotel. We have always been greeted by someone who gave us the lay of the land and sometimes even a cell phone to use. Occasionally, we would have to take the tube for 10 or so minutes to the center of town, but that was never hard. One site in London I stumbled on was One Fine Stay, which has stunning as well as charming flats in London. Check the site out and you will be dreaming of some of these places.
|One Fine Stay|
This time in London we are going hotel. I’m a bit late planning this trip. Since most of the apartments I liked are booked for the days we are going, I thought I’d try something different. My boys are older and can stay out late. I figured a hotel in the center of it all would be a little pit stop for us to pop in and go back out between museums, sightseeing and dinner. I also like the idea of going downstairs and having a drink or fancy dinner with my husband while the boys stay in the room with a movie and pizza from room service. Having a high schooler, I felt like they were old enough to be alone if we were nearby. Last trip we did this, they thought that was the best night! My younger one Griffin still asks, “Mom can we have the guy come with the rolling cart and the flowers and silver covers on the food?” Clearly, the kid could get used to this. Sorry, I tell my husband, my genes!
Speaking of traveling abroad with kids, I think it’s a lot of fun. Maybe I’m crazy, but it has been a positive and enlightening experience for all of us. I highly recommend it. Later this week, I’ll share my experiences traveling to Europe with kids in a post about family travel..
So tell me, do you enjoy trip planning? Do you have any secrets? And has anyone done the trip I described or have any special places they love in Holland, Belgium or Northern Germany? You readers always amaze me with your knowledge and anything you want to share I really appreciate. What about travel in London? On my list is either a day trip to Windsor or Stratford-Upon-Avon, and also we are hoping to queue for grounds admission to Wimbledon, as we will be there during the first days of the championships.
So tell me about what adventures you have planned…I’d love to hear about your plans. Summer is around the corner. I’m usually a wait and see person, but I’m trying to get a jump on things a bit earlier this year!