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Feeling overwhelmed with planning a 4 week trip

Feeling overwhelmed with planning a 4 week trip

Old Jul 13th, 2022, 07:56 AM
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Feeling overwhelmed with planning a 3 week trip

Hi folks,

I donít get a lot of vacation time. Recently my company gave me 5 weeks PTO as a reward for performance. I am going to be at home for 2 weeks and will have 3 weeks to travel. I took a look at lodging and flights and itís all doable for the dates I wanted (I looked at multiple cities across Europe).

The dates are July 23rd - August 13th (20 full days). I normally plan months in advance but since this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel (the most Iíve ever had to travel was 10 days in Europe) I have to plan fast. Luckily I have 24/7 to plan since Iím on vacation.

I am also not married to doing Europe, but other countries like South America seem like they require a lot more planning time.

Are there any good sample 3 week itineraries? I am interested in seeing beautiful architecture, eating amazing food, hiking, swimming, etc.

Some places that Iíve already been to: Rome, Paris, Florence, Amalfi, Venice, Prague, Vienna, London.

I feel particularly drawn to Iceland, Scotland, Switzerland, Turkey, Georgia (the country), Germany, Poland, the Balkans, Benelux, Hungary, Slovenia, more France, and Greece.

Any advice on how to narrow down my choices and build an itinerary are appreciated!

Here are some ideas I had (note: I do prefer to not stay in one country if possible):

Idea 1 (scenery or scenery/warm weather):
- 7-8 days doing the ring road in Iceland OR 7-8 days in Scotland (particularly the highlands)
- Pick another location or 2 and do that for 2 weeks (ie central europe trip revolving around Switzerland or the Balkans and Istanbul)

Idea 2:
- Poland (maybe Berlin too since it's close to Poland)
- Budapest
- Croatia
- Maybe Bulgaria
- End in Turkey

Idea 3 (Istanbul to Budapest via Balkans and Greece)
Probably won't have time for all the cities but some combination of Turkey, Greece, and Balkan cities
- Start in Istanbul
- Go to Greece (briefly visit Athens then go to 1 island of my choice)
- Zagreb
- Split
- Mostar
- Sarajevo
- Dobrovnik
- Kotor
- Budva
- Budapest

Idea 4:
- Big central Europe trip that involves the Alps in Switzerland, Munich, Salzburg, Fussen, Berlin

I'm 24 and I know this isn't a lot of vacation time to Europeans but I rarely get 3 weeks to travel. This would be my second solo trip. If I had to narrow it down to 5 places, I would say Iceland, Switzerland, the Balkans, Scotland and Istanbul, Turkey are especially interesting to me. So any advice is appreciated on narrowing down my options

Edit: meant to say 3 weeks not 4 but it wonít let me change title

Last edited by FriendlyTraveler5; Jul 13th, 2022 at 08:43 AM.
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Old Jul 13th, 2022, 08:52 AM
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So any advice is appreciated on narrowing down my options
Go where you have a desire to visit.
There is a proviso. Do not zoom from one location to another. Do not limit your time in one location. Like your idea of Iceland, Switzerland, the Balkans, Scotland and Istanbul. They are spaced way to far apart. That is around 4 days allocated to each location. Can you get from one to another without a lot of trouble? What are the health restrictions?
The more time spending at airports and traveling the less time sight seeing. There are delays at airports I have relatives traveling now and it is real.
Less travel means less money. You have not given any idea of budget.
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Old Jul 13th, 2022, 09:05 AM
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July 23rd as in next week?

We combined Iceland and Switzerland one year. Flew Iceland Air. Worked pretty well. I have both trip reports posted here on Fodor's if you think they might help.

It's pretty easy to combine the "Alps in Switzerland, Munich, Salzburg, Fussen, Berlin" as well. Well, Berlin is the outlier, but the rest is easily accomplished - fly into and out of Munich, train to Salzburg, bus or train to Switzerland from Munich, etc.

I don't envy you having to come up with a plan with such short notice - have you even checked to see if flights are available at this late date?
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Old Jul 13th, 2022, 09:45 AM
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Welcome to Fodors

Just quick -- I'd absolutely 100% forget about either Scotland or Iceland because unfortunately you've left things too late (I know - not your 'fault' but it is the reality)

And Scotland is my favorite place on Earth. Late July is difficult, and August is nigh on impossible unless planned months in advance, Edinburgh triples in size and more than doubles in cost from the end of July through the entire month of August due to the Fringe, International Festival, other festivals, and the Tattoo all running concurrently. Other places in the country (Skye, Mull, other scenic areas) are likely fully booked.

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Old Jul 13th, 2022, 09:46 AM
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Height of European Holiday season and Edinburgh has the mother of all festivals in August.

I'd do Iceland, Scotland, Ireland. Travel between is easy. Only three currencies, lots of parties.
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Old Jul 13th, 2022, 01:36 PM
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Your 2nd itinerary would be one hell of a trip.
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Old Jul 13th, 2022, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
Welcome to Fodors

Just quick -- I'd absolutely 100% forget about either Scotland or Iceland because unfortunately you've left things too late (I know - not your 'fault' but it is the reality)

And Scotland is my favorite place on Earth. Late July is difficult, and August is nigh on impossible unless planned months in advance, Edinburgh triples in size and more than doubles in cost from the end of July through the entire month of August due to the Fringe, International Festival, other festivals, and the Tattoo all running concurrently. Other places in the country (Skye, Mull, other scenic areas) are likely fully booked.
I may be wrong but I donít think Iceland wouldnít be too late? I found a tour that goes all around the ring road starting July 25th for a whole week. And found plenty of accommodation in ReykjavŪk for the 2 days I stay before doing the tour. So not sure what you mean?
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Old Jul 13th, 2022, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Melnq8 View Post
July 23rd as in next week?

We combined Iceland and Switzerland one year. Flew Iceland Air. Worked pretty well. I have both trip reports posted here on Fodor's if you think they might help.

It's pretty easy to combine the "Alps in Switzerland, Munich, Salzburg, Fussen, Berlin" as well. Well, Berlin is the outlier, but the rest is easily accomplished - fly into and out of Munich, train to Salzburg, bus or train to Switzerland from Munich, etc.

I don't envy you having to come up with a plan with such short notice - have you even checked to see if flights are available at this late date?
Yes. Iíve checked flights and lodging (I like to stay in hostels). All of the places had availability and even checked tours and stuff. I found $600 round trip flights to ReykjavŪk and Istanbul. Other areas roughly the same as well.
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Old Jul 13th, 2022, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by VANAARLE View Post
Go where you have a desire to visit.
There is a proviso. Do not zoom from one location to another. Do not limit your time in one location. Like your idea of Iceland, Switzerland, the Balkans, Scotland and Istanbul. They are spaced way to far apart. That is around 4 days allocated to each location. Can you get from one to another without a lot of trouble? What are the health restrictions?
The more time spending at airports and traveling the less time sight seeing. There are delays at airports I have relatives traveling now and it is real.
Less travel means less money. You have not given any idea of budget.
Sorry I should have noted my budget. My budget is $20,000. I doubt I will get near that since I like to stay in hostels. And I like to backpack. Im just giving what realistically is the max I would spend so it is noted that budget is not an issue at all.

Yeah I think Iím going to pick locations close together. Or 2 locations far apart but can easily be flown (for example Iceland and Switzerland) may be more doable. But I wonít do Iceland and Switzerland and Istanbul for example.

Ill try to rethink and will put down my thoughts.

I decided to remove Scotland due to timing. Iceland has tours and accommodation. Turkey and the Balkans might be a better idea since less people travel there so more options. I imagine Switzerland would probably be packed.

How about Iceland + Turkey/Greece?



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Old Jul 13th, 2022, 03:05 PM
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I'm guessing Iceland will be more packed than Switzerland.

Sounds like you've got a healthy budget, but keep in mind Iceland and Switzerland are both eye-wateringly expensive.
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Old Jul 13th, 2022, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Melnq8 View Post
I'm guessing Iceland will be more packed than Switzerland.

Sounds like you've got a healthy budget, but keep in mind Iceland and Switzerland are both eye-wateringly expensive.
Yeah true. Idk how to narrow it down. I guess Iíll watch more videos. I feel like I did narrow it down to 3 options tho

1st one is pick Switzerland OR Iceland then fly to Turkey and finish in Greece

2nd one is Turkey + Greece and/or Balkans depending on what I can fit

3rd one is Iceland and Switzerland and Istanbul

Also I was considering a location other than Europe because people say other places around the world require 3 weeks and Europe can be done in 10-14 days so donít waste it. I considered Australia/NZ but I think Iíll save it for a time when it isnít winter
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Old Jul 13th, 2022, 09:40 PM
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Something about your original post and additions of your budget remind me of another poster we had recently in this thread: Having a tough time narrowing down where to go - Both 24 years of age with a $20k budget. Wish I had that at 24! Heck, wish I had that now at 43!

But even if you are two different people, the one thing you really need to consider right now is whether you want to travel in the current climate of the airline industry. It is in a complete meltdown right now worldwide. Go if you can, absolutely, but keep it simple. Try to use trains between your destinations (and those are having their own issues, too), maybe even avoid connecting flights if you can. So, fly direct if at all possible. Having carry-on only will help, too. Baggage handling is a mess everywhere.

You wanting to go to Europe in the high season makes things crowded - not so much if you can find accomodations (sounds like you have). Just choose. We really cannot choose for you. It is your decision to make, and at the last minute no less. Yes, you can see highlights of Europe in 10-14 days, but you cannot see all of it. You could cover Paris, Rome, perhaps Venice & Florence in that 14 days. Or stick to just Germany or just Switzerland. Thoughts: Iceland is busy at this time of year, so are the Balkans/Greece, like others have suggested I'd avoid Scotland and even the UK (read up on Heathrow - it's a disaster). Personally, I'd avoid Europe right now (and this is coming from someone who planned a sabbatical before the meltdowns - I can't change my sabbatical dates so I am stuck). If you can make it to Australia and New Zealand, despite it being winter, that would be my choice.

My best trip was planned simply by putting a map of Europe on a dart board and tossing a dart. I was about your age. Maybe you should consider that as well.

Last edited by Travel_Nerd; Jul 13th, 2022 at 09:52 PM.
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Old Jul 14th, 2022, 02:59 AM
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I vote for Iceland-Turkey-Greece (or opposite order), with some Aegean island hopping.
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Old Jul 14th, 2022, 03:41 AM
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Europe can be done in 10-14 days

That's a first. I can't even 'do' one country in Europe in 10-14 days.

Australia and NZ is a huge undertaking at the last minute. I love both in the winter, but then again I plan for months before going. And once again, you need to decide which country, and then narrow down even more. Three weeks is a good amount of time to leisurely explore one island of NZ or two eastern states of Australia, but if you head to Western Australia, all bets are off. WA is about as far from the US as a person can get. I know, I lived there for seven years and the flights to/from the US were brutal.

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Old Jul 14th, 2022, 07:40 AM
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Everywhere in Europe is busy right now, and much of it is roasting and or burning.
Many people are taking trains instead of flying so trains, certainly between countries, may not be available. Flying is a pain, and not helping the roasting/burning.
I would choose a single country and spend real time there, and just chill a bit while there. Slow down and enjoy it before going back to work. Since you keep mentioning Turkey go to Turkey.
Or spend the time exploring your own country, which has plenty of amazing places.
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Old Jul 14th, 2022, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Melnq8 View Post
Europe can be done in 10-14 days

That's a first. I can't even 'do' one country in Europe in 10-14 days.

Australia and NZ is a huge undertaking at the last minute. I love both in the winter, but then again I plan for months before going. And once again, you need to decide which country, and then narrow down even more. Three weeks is a good amount of time to leisurely explore one island of NZ or two eastern states of Australia, but if you head to Western Australia, all bets are off. WA is about as far from the US as a person can get. I know, I lived there for seven years and the flights to/from the US were brutal.
amen


planes are so pre-covid, just not responsible, perhaps use some of the $20k (American I guess) to plant some trees
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Old Jul 14th, 2022, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Travel_Nerd View Post
But even if you are two different people, the one thing you really need to consider right now is whether you want to travel in the current climate of the airline industry. It is in a complete meltdown right now worldwide. Go if you can, absolutely, but keep it simple. Try to use trains between your destinations (and those are having their own issues, too), maybe even avoid connecting flights if you can. So, fly direct if at all possible. Having carry-on only will help, too. Baggage handling is a mess everywhere.

You wanting to go to Europe in the high season makes things crowded - not so much if you can find accomodations (sounds like you have). Just choose. We really cannot choose for you. It is your decision to make, and at the last minute no less. Yes, you can see highlights of Europe in 10-14 days, but you cannot see all of it. You could cover Paris, Rome, perhaps Venice & Florence in that 14 days. Or stick to just Germany or just Switzerland. Thoughts: Iceland is busy at this time of year, so are the Balkans/Greece, like others have suggested I'd avoid Scotland and even the UK (read up on Heathrow - it's a disaster). Personally, I'd avoid Europe right now (and this is coming from someone who planned a sabbatical before the meltdowns - I can't change my sabbatical dates so I am stuck). If you can make it to Australia and New Zealand, despite it being winter, that would be my choice.

My best trip was planned simply by putting a map of Europe on a dart board and tossing a dart. I was about your age. Maybe you should consider that as well.
That is my post! I lost access to that account and I had a date change due to work issues so I just made a new post since date requirements changed and I narrowed down my choices even more.

Here is what I think Iím going to do. I read on the Rick Steves forum that Poland currently is experiencing under tourism due to Ukraine situation. Maybe I could fly into Warsaw or Krakow and see 1-2 cities in Poland. Buy a ticket to fly out of Istanbul to give me options. Then I have a lot of options like I could go down to Budapest. Then I could take a short flight to Greece or I could visit Croatia instead. It gives a lot of flexibility.

Other idea I had which is less logical is to fly to Iceland. Yes itís gonna be crowded but at least itís outdoors in nature. Reykjavik is also a good stopover since itís a relatively short flight compared to most of Europe. Then from there I really wanted to visit Istanbul and I also wanted to see Greece.

If those 2 ideas sound okay then I will choose between the 2 of them.

I would prefer to have more planning to visit Australia/NZ. Itís my fault but theres so much of Europe Iíve always wanted to visit anyway so Iím still excited!!!
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Old Jul 14th, 2022, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by hetismij2 View Post
Everywhere in Europe is busy right now, and much of it is roasting and or burning.
Many people are taking trains instead of flying so trains, certainly between countries, may not be available. Flying is a pain, and not helping the roasting/burning.
I would choose a single country and spend real time there, and just chill a bit while there. Slow down and enjoy it before going back to work. Since you keep mentioning Turkey go to Turkey.
Or spend the time exploring your own country, which has plenty of amazing places.
Not Poland. I read through some TripAdvisor forums and it seems to be not as crowded. And the weather in Krakow doesnít seem too bad either.

Iím not gonna let crowds stop me from traveling either way. I rarely get to leave the country.

Iím thinking Iím gonna do Iceland then go to Turkey and do Greece as well. Or fly to Poland, see Budapest, and go down the Balkans.

Plus since Iceland is outdoors, crowds arenít as big of an issue since space is huge. Even if it still is, not gonna stop me.

Yes it sucks the crowds, but Iím just tired of staying in the states.
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Old Jul 14th, 2022, 11:57 AM
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If you are serious about Poland you might enjoy this article:
https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2...upport-ukraine
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Old Jul 14th, 2022, 12:49 PM
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Here is the June thread Having a tough time narrowing down where to go

Just wondering :-. . . Could it be we are being trolled here? This thread -- his trip is due to his employer unexpectedly awarding PTO for his exceptional work performance . . . earlier thread its because he left his job and has 5 weeks between his old job and starting a new one in August.
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