For our honeymoon, Josh and I mapped out a three week trip based loosely off this one from Fodor’s:

Athens to Istanbul

Our route:

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Google maps does not believe me that you can take a boat from Rhodes to Fethiye, but I assure you that you can! It wound up being a great mix of history, urban adventure, beaches, walking, travel, and unique landscapes. We stayed in a combination of luxury hotels, air B&B, free “points” hotels, and budget pensions. We got around by bus, boat, ferry, plane, and cab. Some nights we even traveled overnight, eliminating the need for extra accommodations! Here’s how we did it, if you’re contemplating a trip of your own.

(Note: this started out as one post and got way too long, so I’m going to break it into 5 parts. Suspenseful!)

PART 1: GETTING THERE

Mapping out the route
  • I used a google spreadsheet set up like a calendar to figure out our itinerary and track lodging/travel confirmations. This helped determine how many places we could go and how long we could stay in each. Some events were static: for example, the overnight ferry to Rhodes only runs three days a week, so I knew we had to leave Santorini on a Monday or Friday. We knew we wanted at least 4 days in Istanbul, and to do something special on Josh’s birthday, which meant getting there by the 20th. Knowing this stuff in advance takes some of the fun out of “let’s show up and see what happens,” but helps ensure you don’t miss opportunities because of bad timing.
  • Before we left, I printed a cheat-sheet of our itinerary with confirmation #s and addresses, directions from how to get from the port or bus stop to each hotel, maps, etc., and kept it in my purse. I also put together a manilla envelope with longer documents (ie. the entire confirmation email, travel visas) and kept that in my backpack. As the trip passed, I tore off pages and threw them away as they become no longer relevant.
Packing

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  • Here’s my packing list, with notes on what was valuable and what I could have left behind.
  • We both used travel backpacks, and packed light. Josh loves his Tortuga (he used it as a day pack when we were out and about, though it’s a bit large… I may get him the day pack for future trips) and I love my REI Vagabond Tour. It’s roughly large cat-sized, modeled by Cassie above. That red bag is a Travelon anti-theft crossbody and I used it as a purse/day bag.
  • You’re taking your phone, right? You should take your phone. Pull up the google map for where you are going and save an offline copy now. Leave your camera at home unless it’s fancy and just use your phone camera. Maybe leave your kindle at home too. All those batteries? Leave them at home. Your charger? Bring one. For your phone. Keep it in airplane mode unless you want to incur crazy fees and/or try to figure out the sim card thing (which, if you do that, start early — at least a week before you leave).
  • You exchanged some money at the bank, yes? Do that early, too. Don’t wait for the night before your trip. Most banks can give you dollars in exchange for other currency but only a few have other currencies on hand. So I’m told.
  • I signed up for a free month of Kindle Unlimited which allowed me to download Lonely Planet guides and some other random travel books. Just don’t forgot to cancel your subscription afterwards. (Ok I guess here’s where a Kindle is helpful but you can also read this stuff on your phone.)
  • No selfie sticks, that’s ridiculous. However, I might look into a strap to keep my phone connected to my body/hand, if I’m gonna be pulling it out all the time and using it like a camera.
The flight: Seattle => Chicago => Brussels

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  • We flew United economy class and on the first leg I was offered the opportunity to upgrade to first class for $99/person. I’m no fool, so I snatched that deal up. Not only did this put us in first class for the 3+ hours to Chicago, but we got to breeze through security with our first class ticket. Mega score!
The layover: Brussels
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Brussels, Belgium

  • We arrived in Brussels around 7am and our next flight to Athens departed at 8pm. I chose this path on purpose, knowing that the Brussels city centre is close enough to the airport such that we could easily sneak out for the day without compromising our flight plans. Then I printed out a layover guide and promptly forgot it. Oh well. We saw enough to say “we’ve been to Belgium!” and that is what counts.

How to Spend a Layover in Brussels

Next up… Athens & Delphi!