My Spring Euro-Trip Itinerary (and Why This Trip Will Be Different)

It’s Europe time again! *dancing in my seat*

I haven’t been to Europe in two years (my last trip was the Finland, Rome and ITB Berlin jaunt in 2013) and a lot has changed in that time. I got married. My business grew and grew and grew. Meanwhile Mike now works full time at WooThemes, and together we have a life and home in Seattle. We’ve evolved from digital nomads to something totally different.

All of those are really awesome and good changes, but they have made planning travel pretty different. This trip to Europe will be the first multi-week trip we’ve been able to take together since we got back from Mexico a year ago (most of my escapades recently have been solo).

I’ve been to Europe a few times over the course of this blog, but this trip is a bit different then ones I’ve done in the past for a few reasons, all of which have to do with our current life and travel philosophy.

For example:

We have a Strict Itinerary

I have such a love/hate relationship with itineraries. I love to plan them, hate to follow them. Over the years I’ve managed to strike a pretty good balance between planning and not planning, but this trip I am letting my planning gene take control.

Because one of the not so-perky parts of having an employer is limited vacation time. Between this trip, Hawaii, and a couple of smaller trips planned for this summer we’ve completely maxed out Mike’s days off. He’ll be working during about half the trip (and I will too of course).This means that we’ll be working with a pretty strict schedule in terms of where we will be when.

I’m Working with (almost) No Sponsors

I’m pretty excited about this.

As a blogger is can be SO tempting to contact all the hotels, tour companies and more. With a blog of my size it’s not difficult to get comps at all. I’ve done this in the past many times, such as when we worked with Eurail and Hostelworld in 2012. I’ve seriously got nothing against this- it helps me travel, gives me content ideas and allows me to honestly evaluate different companies. It’s also a lot of work though, and generally not as fun.

So this trip we are traveling under our own steam. I turned down several press trips and other opportunities in favor of doing our own thing. It’s hard to say no to an all expense-paid river cruise, but I’m psyched to do my own thing.

There is a qualifier here: The entire starting point of this trip was that I’m speaking at TBEX Costa Brava, and the conference is paying for my plane ticket and hotel room for that portion of the trip. It’s not a true sponsorship, but it seemed like a good idea to be honest.

I’m also taking a food tour in Barcelona that a woman I met at WITS offered me. I just really love food tours you guys!

We’re spending less time and more money

Ice cream budget is MASSIVE

Originally I wanted to do 6 weeks in Europe, with longer stints in each location where we worked from the road. The final judgement on our 2014 taxes made this impossible (being a freelancer is really terrible when it comes to tax times. Really terrible). So we cut back to just three weeks abroad and I picked the bits that were most important to me.

The upside? Thanks to trimming our vacation and to the strong US dollar against the Euro, we actually have more money to spend on a day to day basis. So no hostels for us this trip (no that I don’t love em), we’re doing rental apartments in local neighborhoods, sightseeing on our own terms and hopefully eating really, really well.

We’re not going to Italy.

Maybe next time…

I know! I got to pick my own itinerary and I didn’t even put Italy on it. We’ve spent extensive time in Italy on both of our last two trips to Europe. Even though Mike finally has his Italian citizenship, we decided to forego Italy this time around in favor of a new country for both of us.

So where ARE we going?

Spain: Barcelona and Lloret Del Mar

Mike and I are actually on separate flights to Barcelona (see conference buying my flight above), which is a little annoying, but we both land in Barcelona on April 26th. We’ve been before, but I’m looking forward to a few extra days here to hang out with friends, eat some yummy stuff and hopefully finally tour the Sagrada Familia.

Then we’ll head out to Costa Brava for TBEX. I’ve been to Girona (so lovely) but not Lloret Del Mar, so hopefully I’ll get to do a bit of exploring in between conference sessions. I will be speaking with Gary Arndt on on building a long-term future for your blog. I will also be giving out lots of hugs and networking until my voice goes hoarse.

Portugal: Porto and Lisbon

CC Pedro Ribeiro Simões

Our new country! I love TBEX but I am always completely burnt out after such a social event, so it will be a relief to fly out to Porto the day after the conference ends. I wish we had longer than a week to spend in Portugal, but we’re hitting up two of the major cities and hopefully that, along with a day trip or two, will give us a snapshot of the country.

I actually don’t know a ton about what to see/do/eat in these two places so I would love some suggestions in the comments!



Oh man oh man oh man. Longtime readers will know just how big a deal this is for me. To get everyone else up to speed:

I used to live in London.

I love London.

I haven’t been to London in over 5 years.

In short: I AM SO EXCITED TO BE GOING BACK TO LONDON. With my husband who has never been to London! I have to say that Mike is being very patient with my endless excitement and planning for this leg of the trip. I’m so excited to reconnect with one of my favorite places, catch up with old friends and hopefully show Mike at least part of why I love London so much.

Future Travels

We come back mid-May and have a brief break, but June is actually fully booked travel-wise as well, with trips to New Jersey for a wedding, Milwaukee for BlogHouse and Vancouver for the Women’s World Cup. I won’t really have time to exhale until July. Luckily busy is how I like it.

Any Suggestions for me on Barcelona, Portugal or London?

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35 thoughts on “My Spring Euro-Trip Itinerary (and Why This Trip Will Be Different)”

  1. Exciting! I am new to your website and heading to Europe myself for 6 weeks starting in June and Barcelona is one of my stops. It has been 5 years since I have been in Barcelona and I love reading all the comments posted here. I have made notes myself and look forward to checking out some of the suggestions.

    One place I have read about and want to add to my spots is a shop called La Manual Alpargatera in the Barri Gotic area. While I am not a shopper, I read that this shop makes handmade espadrilles, they originated from this part of Spain, and were originally worn in the fields. Local authentic experiences are the best part of travel. Enjoy!!

  2. I can’t wait to read about your Barcelona week! I might be going over the Christmas/NYE holiday. I hear Portugal is awesome too. I’ve only been to the Azores Island and I loved it so I’m sure mainland is just as good and cheap too! Enjoy!

  3. Sounds like an amazing itinerary! Can’t wait to hear all about it. If you need help with your Portuguese, let me know 🙂 Also…Mike’s never been to London?!???!?

  4. GO and have an (expensive) cocktail up the shard in London. Pretty much the same price as the viewing gallery but more fun!

    Visit the Olympic park and rent bikes.

    The queens gallery, pretty unknown as it’s not free, but small with a great free audio guide and only stuff owned by the royal family, amazing art.

  5. Sounds exciting! I will be waiting for the posts from Portugal! I haven’t been there but want to go some day. Have a great time!

  6. For something different in Lisbon, check out the National Coach Museum which has an incredible collection of royal carriages. It’s in the Belem neighborhood not too far from the pastry shop.

    The beach town of Nazare was one of my favorite places in Portugal. I’m not sure how you’re getting between Porto and Lisbon, but it’s about halfway between the two cities if you’re driving. I agree that Sintra is a must.


  7. Lauraandtheworld

    I was in Porto in January and it’s just amazing! As for food, try francesinha. You can have it right at the Ribeira area with a great view of Gaia (where the Port wine is made) for about 7 euros! Speaking of Gaia, the wine caves over there are gorgeous!! I took a Free Walking Tour and for 15 euros I got 7 glasses of Port wine (20% alcohol each, thank you), cheese, chocolate and crackers! It’s a nice deal, but you can go on your own if you like. Cheers!

  8. My biggest tip for London is to spend a day in Richmond. Hire a bike from the riverside and do a loop taking in the park with it’s wild deer. Have a drink at one of the pubs lining the river. Go on the weekend for the Duck Pond Market. Visit what is left of Richmond Palace (now private apartments). I lived on a houseboat opposite where the palace is for a year and it was my favourite year (out of 6) in London. My favourite pub is the White Swan near the palace too, a lot of tourists don’t know it’s there as tucked away from the main thoroughfare so it’s usually locals – the food there is INCREDIBLE!

  9. So excited that you are going to visit Portugal. I’m Portuguese from Lisbon but I’m now currently living in London 🙂 I love both cities!!!

    If you are going to Lisbon you can’t miss Sintra, is a beautiful village, with a fairytale castle and it’s only 30 minutes by train from Lisbon (Rossio Station). Please try the traditional pastry called “travesseiro” in “Piriquita cafe”, it’s delicious!!!

    Don’t forget to eat the cream custard (Pastel de Belém) in Lisbon as well.

    To go out for a drink try “Bairro Alto” is a neighbourhood when people are chatting and drinking in the street.

    Also in Lisbon, you must try “Ginginha” which is a sweet alcoholic drink.

    If you want to go to the beach try Cascais Beaches, Sintra beaches or if you have time to go a littler further and cross the river, try “Costa da Caparica” beaches.

    Enjoy our weather, river, food and have a nice and safe trip 🙂

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