Updated: Jan 20
Let me set the stage: Last November, playing around on the computer searching for flights and all of a sudden all the stars align, the prices were perfect, lodgings were at their lowest (off-season), and I look at my husband,
"What would you think if I traveled to Austria in January?"
He rolls his eyes and gives me the hard stare. He knows my mind is already made up. I just need to make ONE quick call to my travel partner in crime!
Before he realizes how serious I am, I rush to my phone to video chat Connie. #chariotsoffire
When she answers, I squeak, high-pitched and stumble over my words, “Do you want to go to Austria in January? Think fast! You have to tell me now cause I gotta book the tickets… NOW.”
I give her a minute to let my avalanche of a questions process as she's just staring at me. #letthatsinkin
*blink blink* Her head tilts. I can see the gears turning.
Then.. it clicks. Her eyes widen and then the 100 watt smile. *giggle* She winks and gives me “hold - that - thought” finger.
I’m still holding my breath. No time to breathe. *Oh please say yes! Oh please say yes!*
I see her eyes look away from the camera, she smiles like a kid and chirps, “Hey Greg!!! *giggle* What do you think of us going to Austria in January?”
Question was asked but the decision was already made. That’s how we work! #gauntletdropped
Just like that .. we got the tickets. Now what?! Where to even begin!
Once we (quickly) booked the flights to several countries, we only had weeks to plan. Normally, we book months in advance and take our time to really look into the trip, and delve into each town. Slowly. Making plans. Changing plans. Deciding. Graphing it out. Budgeting. All of it in given time. #movingquickly
My brain, planning, sketching, and inquiries work in overtime and most can barely keep up. My initial research came out just as fast and as jumbled as my tongue twister of a question to Connie about booking the tickets.
My gears were turning, flipping, and my fingers typed fast enough to cause a spark and fire on the keyboard. I had to work and plan fast, or so I thought. I felt the stress of a deadline and this impeded my meticulous nature. This left holes in my planning and, at times, a few important details were overlooked.. True to my nature, I began OVERPLANNING. Over eager. Overdoing it. When will I ever learn?
No sleep. Just research! I tend to be the Tazmanian devil stumbling through it while Connie is like Bugs Bunny all cool and collected. #whatsupdoc
It was like the rug that was jerked out from underneath my feet. I don’t like to work this way where it “appears” to be the last minute, even though we had weeks.
So, I am not thinking things through in the planning; like distances, train travel, the weather, 4 countries in 9 days.
Yeah.. not my best and wisest move but we were up for an adventure.
I kept coming up to dead ends. Things weren't aligning. Time restraints. Tickets. Nothing was working out. Everything was overlapping with no rhyme, reason, or fluidity.
I got in way over my head (more like drowning) and way too excited like a puppy whose attention span is half a second and gets in to everything. #squirrel
This was supposed to be a vacation and it looked like a train "jail sentence", riding for hours, watching the world go by.
Connie’s words rang true, and still do: This vacation is a stroll, not a sprint.
Did I listen? Not at first. #igotthis
Not ready to throw in the towel, I decided I needed to reach out to others in a travel forum on a popular travel website and ask an innocent question. It seemed simple. Right? Wrong!
All my train travel that I had in mind..
My “caboose” was about to be handed to me by complete strangers.
I pose the question all light and airy… and friendly! Using words like “flexibility” and “whirlwind”. I literally hit the post button and responses aka brutal honesty came back strong and, I have to admit, it stung a bit!
Snippets from about 30 people and some of their responses and advice aka spankings (ouch):
First day will not get much done ..due to jet lag...you just have time to get to the airport for the flight home...you run the risk of "If today is Tuesday, this must be Belgium" syndrome…
will be a whirlwind total of 9 days...An understatement, if ever there was one….I think the weather service would classify this at least an EF-3 tornado....
your plan has too many places. ...No time for seeing anything….
This looks like a trip for a rail enthusiast, all traveling and no time in the places…
You have a night "wasted" at the airport….
Sorry to be so brutal. …
That is a bit of a chimera on a "9 day whirlwind tour". …
No offense, but you have done an admirable job of planning the trip from hell. If someone were to offer me that trip for free, I'd have to decline. hard to believe that you have two other travelers going with you that also think living on a train and packing/unpacking every day seems like an ideal vacation?!...
I apologize in advance, as you were simply asking about the pros & cons But, as you can see, your itinerary derailed my response to that! …
Sorry for totally rubbishing your plan. We are only trying to help….
Without commenting on the sanity of you itinerary, You've indicated you want flexibility, but your proposed itinerary has little wiggle room for flexibility.
After reading these responses, I picked myself up off the floor, consoled my bruised ego, and decided to tweak our plans.
To be honest, I needed and appreciated the “brutal” advice from fellow travelers. Looking back, we would have been miserable sitting on trains for 9 days.
We ended up skipping two countries and stayed in Austria a few days longer than initially planned.
Travel plans tweaked. We went. We saw. It was AMAZING! Austria and Switzerland in January are a winter wonderland.
When you are doing your research, reach out to other travelers. Let them review your plans. They will have a perspective that you didn’t see. They are outside of your travel box. Advice could save you time, money, and experiences that could have been, otherwise, wasted.
My last sentence for this post is to show that even in the honesty of this travel group, we are here to help each other. Once I was able to change my itinerary to basically look like a complete face lift of my original plans, this was the response from a nice “chap” in England: