Monday, February 28, 2011 Road Junkies 0 Comments

3 MONTHS IN EUROPE:  PROLOGUE.

Emboldened and inspired by our two-month trip along the East Coast of the U.S. last year, we decided to spread our wings a bit more in 2011 in both time and distance.  In the past our travels to Europe have been for brief periods, no more than two weeks.  Yet each time we've been there, we've wanted to stay longer.  Since 1986, when the Schengen Agreement was signed, traveling between 26 European countries has become as simple as going from one U.S. state to another with no passport control or customs procedures at the borders.

Travel between countries of western Europe was simplified further by the adoption of the Euro as primary currency in 19 countries in 1999.  The only thing that could make things even simpler is the adoption of a common language across Europe.  That's not going to happen, so the time has come for us to explore the continent more thoroughly.  It's not likely to get any easier than now.  With a vague list of places we want to visit, we have booked round-trip flights from Atlanta to London and back.  We'll fly to London on March 1 and return on June 1, giving us three full months for adventuring.

Generally, we plan to spend about a month in Italy, a month in France, and a month in the United Kingdom, while visiting a few other countries along the way.  Upon our arrival in London, we'll transfer to a flight to Amsterdam, where our 3 Months in Europe will begin.

Packing

Before leaving home, we had to decide how to pack for such a long trip without carrying a burdensome number of bags.  Our answer was limiting ourselves to one backpack each, plus a purse for Dianne.  We severely limited the amount of clothes we're taking, figuring we can launder them as needed.  Other items were also cut way back from our typical habits.

And now, the great one-bag-for-three-months experiment begins.  Even though lots of careful thought has gone into our packing, we completely expect to add or subtract minor items along the way.  Dianne has fallen hard for packing cubes.

Once loaded, they all just climb into the backpack and nestle in there together, making it easy to locate what I need without having to dig through a lot of loose items.  Of course, the labels were only on the packs for the photo, so hopefully I'll remember what's in each one.  Just in case, they are different colors and do have mesh lids to give me a hint of what's inside.  

All organized before leaving home.  Will they stay that way?
Not really planning to carry this big backpack myself.

Ken went more for the "roll everything up and pack it inside" method.  (That's his backpack on Dianne with hers on the floor.)  Time will tell which system works better—in the unlikely event that either of us is willing to admit our plan is inferior.

MONDAY, 28 FEBRUARY 2011