We started booking our hotels. My Baba figured we could use her Air Miles to do this, (since we didn’t use them for the flights) saving us money. Using the Air Miles website, we carefully budgeted her Miles for each night. We booked our longest stay first: Florence, for a total of four nights. Unknowingly, we had just hit the jackpot of hotels thanks to Baba’s Miles.
We decided on a one night stay in Venice, settling on a hotel in an area called Maestre. To make the most of the Miles, we made the mistake to book a hotel outside of Rome (which I will discuss in detail later). We also reserved one night on our way home in London (also outside of the city, also a mistake).
Our smaller flights from London to Venice and Rome to London were next, as well as our train rides from Venice to Florence and Florence to Rome. Ryanair seemed to be the cheapest airline, and we got both flights through them. Let me give you this advice: ALWAYS read the fine print. More on that another time. We found our first few nights stay in London through a neat website called Booking.com. It was close to the small airport we would be flying to Venice from at four in the morning. I used raileurope.com for our train rides, and got us on a couple of inexpensive bullet trains.
At this point, my Baba was thrilled because our transportation and lodgings were scheduled and paid for. All that remained were our activities. I was happily fixated on the idea of having every second of our trip planned so we could efficiently see as much as possible in the little time we had. (Can you tell I have a Type A personality?).
I had thrown myself into planning every detail of our trip. I loved to think about it, just like I do now. As the anticipation grew, I played an exciting game of fill in the blanks. Our lists came in handy. For the cruise, we chose our shore excursions and decided which were worth it (they definitely were) and which we could forego. After that was done, we appointed activities for the remaining time slots. Slowly but surely, I made sure all the blanks were filled.
For the days that were empty, I had a full itinerary of things we could do. I pretty much planned a walking tour of each city based on our interests. Some may call me crazy, but I like to think of myself as well-organized. We weren’t missing a thing. Pulling everything together, I created one primary itinerary documenting our time hour through hour. I had a full list of contact information, the addresses of our hotels, and London underground directions. I had figured out a timetable so we wouldn’t miss a plane or a train. I knew exactly the time needed to leave our hotel so we would make it to our cruise. I even had photocopies of all of our important travel documents including a set for home. I kept these and all of our bookings in a handy file folder. To the environmentalists: I apologize.
One thing I had learned from all my planning is you can never be too prepared. Don’t think I didn’t come across more than a few problems, which of course I will enlighten you with as my tale goes on. Why would you want to book everything ahead of time? So you can pay now and enjoy later. I now understand the benefit of an all-inclusive: never having to pull out your wallet and simply relax on vacation. We got to do that too; it saved us from exchanging and carrying as much foreign currency. This aids in worrying less about pickpockets and being more carefree. Plus coming back from holidays without a whopping credit card bill is a bonus.
Most of the sites we booked through were in Canadian dollars, saving us from those ever changing exchange rates. Now you might be thinking that I should probably get on to telling the tale of our trip. Soon friends, soon.