And How to Find Yours…
First, let me start by saying; Round, Brown, and A-broad is going to be a blog series within my regular blog about my journey (and future journeys) overseas. About my experiences as not only a female but as a black female who happens to be fluffy. I mean, we all know that the gender you identify with, the color of your skin and the number on the scale can greatly affect your experiences in any given situation. Traveling is no different. And I’ve seen plenty of blogs/vlogs featuring gorgeous slender black women who have ventured abroad. Well, what about us chubs? Well, that’s why I’m here. To find that out.
Recently, I just returned from my very first trip (which was also solo, I might add), to Europe. It was a 20-day tour that encompassed part of the U.K., Italy, and France. So this series will detail my journey with commentary, ratings, tips, photos, and some videos of my trip. Some posts will describe a whole day. While some will be solely about a single incident. They may come daily, weekly, bi-weekly, hell just whenever I feel like telling you about my whirlwind trip. Let’s not get bogged down with strict schedules. That’s not how I operate. Just know that you’ll get a tasty travel treat every now and again.
But first things first. How did I do it? I’ve lived abroad in Japan before when I taught English for a year. But then, I had someone (the company I worked for) meeting me on the other side with a sign and a shuttle bus. With a hotel already booked for our week long training. As well as a ticket already paid for for the bullet train to my assigned city. Going to Europe solo was a whole other situation. All I had were a couple of friends who travel a lot to give me some tips. And keep in mind, up until that point I had never planned and executed a vacation completely on my own before. Yes, I’m 38. Yes, that’s fairly late in life.
So I kicked off my planning with a simple Google search. Scrolling through the options for planning a European trip, I stumbled across the Holy Grail of European vacation planning. RoutePerfect!!!
This site is the bee’s knees! The interface is user-friendly and super cute. You have tons of options, from using the sliders to adjust your preferences or manually entering the countries and cities you already are interested in. You can choose your budget, how you want to get from Point A to Point B, your dates, and what type of vacay it is (family, romantic, solo, etc.). Then you hit “Price Your Trip” and it will give you a list of available hotels in every city you’ve chosen with the option to switch hotels based on price and/or accommodations. The hotel options are also through TripAdvisor so you can click on the hotel, which will redirect you to their site, and you can see a map of where the hotels are located as well as read reviews. Then, once you’ve picked the right hotels for you, click “Book Your Trip” and they book every hotel in every city all at once. Instead of doing them one at a time. They email you vouchers for each hotel that you print out just in case you’ll need them at the hotel (not all hotels need them).
I’ll admit, at first I was super skeptical of this site. I could barely find any reviews about them other than the testimonials on their site. And who knows if those are paid for or not. But now that I know, believe me, if you see mine, I was not paid for it. And other reviews I saw on other sites were based on how easy it was to play around with, but few had actually booked. So I went out on blind faith that I wouldn’t get my ass over to Europe and end up sleeping on a park bench somewhere.
There was one slight blunder on their part, though. The hotel that I originally chose for my two London stays at the beginning and end of my trip ended up not being available, even though the site said it was. A rep from RoutePerfect contacted me within minutes, they gave me other options that were within my price range and had me booked with those options within 48 hours. They also upgraded me to the executive suite at the first hotel free of charge for the inconvenience. So I was happy.
As far as transportation for roundtrip air to and from Europe as well as flights within Europe, I used Kayak.com. That’s always my go-to site for flights. But I just checked and now RoutePerfect has made it where you can book your flight from their site too! I even compared their prices with Kayak and they seem to be Even-Steven. Definitely an added bonus.
They even have a button to click that takes you to the EuroRail website to book your train tickets. As well as one for booking activities that I either did not see when I planned my trip at the beginning of the year or is a new (and convenient) feature they just added. There’s also a button on the first page that says “Transportation.” Click that and it’ll take you to a site that will give you the average pricing for train, plane, bus, etc for getting you to the different cities/countries you have planned within Europe. So you can see what is the fastest and cheapest option to get from one destination to another. Basically, you can do it all from this one site. And when you’ve decided what you want, you can save your trip for when you’re ready to book. Keep in mind though that the prices and availability are subject to change from minute to minute. So one hotel that you want when you first play around with it, may not be available when you’re ready to book.
Anyway, I know it sounds like one big commercial for RoutePerfect (Hmm…maybe they should be paying me. Ha!), but it really is how I planned my perfect European trip. And if I can help a fellow traveler out there, I will gush all day long about this site.
Stay tuned for my insights and shenanigans from my actual trip.
Until then, Peace, Cheerio, Ciao!, Au Revoir…