An itinerary for eight months away is a tricky thing. You need to create some structure, but not so much that you rob your future selves of all detours and spontaneity. On our last big trip, we booked our flights, but left accommodations, sightseeing, and other bookings pretty open until about a week beforehand. But everything we read about travelling in the covid-19 era suggested that we needed to be a bit more pro-active or be disappointed when things are sold out. We’re also travelling in Europe, which means we’ll have to carefully manage our days in Schengen countries so as not to exceed 90 days in any 180-day period. And we’re travelling with small children, who are not known for their ability to walk an extra 2km because you got lost, or to keep their shit together when you’re eating lunch two hours later than usual. A lot of forces pushed us towards planning out a pretty detailed itinerary.
So, starting in August, we built ourselves a Google spreadsheet with a day-by-day itinerary. By the time we left, we had made no fewer than 10 different versions. Through those iterations we played with a lot of different variables, but mostly we were looking to remove destinations and lengthen our stays in each place. Travelling with a 4-year old and a 6-year old, we cannot cover as much ground in a given day, and spending longer in each stop will help us build in down-time and feel less harried. Our starting point was to spend at least three nights in every stop, but over the iterations, we tried to push that up to four and even five.
We’re leaving with an itinerary that’s pretty detailed, knowing we’ll have to be flexible to as the trip unfolds. For now, our flights and rental cars are booked, but we’re choosing accommodation with flexible cancellation policies, and keeping most of the day-by-day plans loose until we’re a few weeks out. But here is the itinerary as it’s currently cast:
Our trip begins on January 3rd, with a flight from Toronto to Munich, where we’ll be staying with relatives in the suburb of Gauting. After we find our feet in Munich, the first leg of our trip includes stops in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Salzburg, before we settle in for a few weeks in the small village of Zedlitzdorf. Here, Sam’s parents have a holiday home, and we will be in driving distance from a number of different ski resorts.
In February, we’ll venture into Italy, with stops in Bologna, Rome, Naples, and Venice. We’ll spend another week in Zedlitzdorf before we head back to Munich to catch a flight to London.
We’ll spend most of March in and around London, staying with Sam’s parents. Towards the end of the month, we’ll head west to Oxford, Stonehenge, Bath, Bristol, and perhaps get as far as Devon. We’ll spend Easter in Wales with Sam’s sister and her children, and then we’ll stop at a few Welsh castles on our way to catch the ferry to Ireland, where we’ll spend most of our time and and around Belfast. From Belfast, we’ll take the ferry over to Cairnryan and spend about ten days in Scotland, with likely stops in Fort William and Edinburgh.
As the calendar flips over to May, we’ll be in the Northeast of England, visiting Durham and York, and making our way to Worcester Marina by mid-May in time to pick up a canal boat. After we return to boat to Worcester, we’ll head south to Poole and base ourselves there to check out some sights on the south coast.
At the end of May, we’ll return to London for about a week before taking the Eurostar to Paris. After a week in Paris, we’ll launch into a long driving tour of central Europe, with stops to see WWI battlefields in Northern France, Dusseldorf, Stockholm, Malmö, Berlin, Prague, and Vienna, before finally returning to Zedlitzdorf to enjoy the mountains in summer.
At the end of July, we’ll drive up to Frankfurt to catch a flight to Halifax. We’ll spend a few days in Halifax before we drive out to Cape Breton to catch the Port-aux-Basques ferry to Newfoundland. Our Newfoundland itinerary includes the viking settlements at L’Anse Aux Meadows, Gros Morne National Park, Port Rexton, and finally St. John’s. Towards the end of August, we’ll take the Argentia ferry back to the mainland, and then stop for a few days with Susan’s parents in Moncton before we trundle back home to Toronto.