Mini Retirement Project
planning the itinerary

For me personally, the most exciting part of a trip has always been planning the itinerary. I’ve planned many trips in the past, as i tend to go on traditional type holidays at least twice a year. This time however, the itinerary style would have to be a little different. First of all, I’m no longer on a ‘Binge Holiday’ — squeezing to do/see as much as possible in a short burst of time. I’m doing a  long term travel aka mini retirement— taking my own sweet time with no fixed itinerary.

The initial itinerary is a bare skeleton of destinations we would want to go and stay longer. The rest would be ‘plan-as-we-go’ sort of thing.

The most important thing about planning for long term travel is not to plan too much. However, you want to plan for at least your first destination, because you want some assurance that wherever you land you have a bed and a roof over your head waiting for you.

Leg #1 Central Europe — Landing in Berlin

There’s a reason why I chose to start our adventure in Berlin of all destinations . The decision that tip me in favour of Berlin, is the fact that we will be arriving around Christmas season. So I make sure I’ll start our journey by visiting some famous Christmas markets in Central Europe i.e Berlin, Prague, Vienna and Budapest. Also from a logistic of view, Berlin has a major international airport and we get to apply long stay visa from Germany for our 12 months stay in Europe.

Then there’s the fact that everyone i spoke to have been telling me how much they loved Berlin so that sort of sealed the deal for me over my previous choice of Munich. We’ve got high expectations of you, Berlin. Don’t let us down!

Summary for Leg #1 of the trip:

Berlin>Prague>Vienna>Bratislava>Budapest

Duration : 6- 8 weeks approx.

Leg #2 Italy

The plan is to move in a geographically clockwise direction around Europe. After all the major movement in the first leg of the trip, we plan to settle for a while in Italy, maybe Florence.

Italy is one of those countries that has been on my hit list for a few years now. The obsession started since i first read about Cinque Terre, before it got famous. Those colourful houses at the edge of the cliffs looking over the Ligurian Sea. Oh, and the gelatos in Florence, and the pizzas in Naples, and the food market in Bologna, wineries in Tuscan countryside and the list goes on. Can’t wait!

We are most probably going to settle down in Florence, in the Tuscany region, as it is quite central to all the places that we want to visit. So leg #2 in Italy goes something like this:

Venice>Cinque Terre>Lake Towns>Florence>Rome>Naples>France

Duration : 6–8 weeks approx.

The Rest of The Trip

Staying true to the vagabonding values, i won’t plan too much after the first couple of months, and will just go with the flow. Although, we have given some thought about the regions we want to go based on the most logical and efficient transport route. So after leg #2, these are the order of regions that we will be traveling through:

Italy>South of France>Spain/Portugal>North of France>UK>North Europe(maybe)

Long Term Stays

Part of our travels will include long term stays at various cities/towns that we particularly enjoy. Similar to Florence as mentioned above, at these destinations we plan to stay anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks to allow us to settle for a bit and enjoy our journey for what it is, taking a break from the constant travels and familiarizing ourselves in our current scenery.

In truth, 10–12 months is not long enough for us to stay anywhere for a long time, so there are only a few places right now which we have identified as possible long stay destinations. These were chosen based on our affinity to these places:- Florence, Lyon, Barcelona (maybe Madrid?), Amsterdam.

We are particularly excited about our French part of the journey as we will most probably be enrolling with Alliance Française Lyon for a month. Hopefully being in France, and surrounded by French speaking people will speed up our comprehension of the language to a ‘survival’ level.

In a nutshell

So that’s our itinerary plan as of now. Truth be told, my greatest concern right now is about the uncertainty in the visa side of things. As we sit and wait for the processing period, i can only hope that we will get the right visa we need to extend beyond the 90 days limit. Still a bit up in the air right now, but a lot can happen in a month and hopefully some good news will come by end of the month.

What’s interesting is the reactions and questions that we get from our friends when we tell them about our upcoming journey. I think based on the response that we’re getting, I’m inspired to share in my next few articles about some of the common misconceptions about long term travels and F.A.Q that were thrown at us.

Stay tune, Deb.

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Debbie Lim

Debbie Lim

Born and bred in Penang, Malaysia, Debbie has spent the last decade in her second home Brisbane, Australia as an engineer. Her professional experiences have taught her how to plan efficiently and manage effectively in the various aspects of her travels. She is an experienced minimalist traveler who believes in keeping it simple yet fun. You will not find a fixed itinerary sheet on her and definitely no alarm clocks or wake up calls when she travels. After spending most of her adulthood in a highly analytical and tightly regulated environment, she currently revels in a a good adventure and spontaneity when least expected.

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