Now that my trip to Europe is less than 4 weeks away (!!!), I figured it was finally time to share with you my awesome partners and sponsors for the trip. These are relationships I've been building for a long time, and I'm really excited to work with each and every one of these companies and organizations over the next few months.
My adventure begins in Hungary, where I'll be embarking upon an 18-day journey through Eastern Europe with Intrepid Travel. Their “Explore Eastern Europe” trip will take me through Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria before ending in Istanbul, Turkey in mid-July. Along the way I will see countryside, cities, castles, villages, monasteries, and everything in between. Some of the highlights I'm really looking forward to include exploring cities in Hungary, staying with locals and visiting medieval villages in Romania, and going to Rila Monastery in Bulgaria. And, of course, the tour ends in Istanbul, which is a city I've dreamed of visiting for years!
Just a few days after my Intrepid adventure ends, I'll be meeting up with what is sure to be a crazy group for a 9-day Busabout “Classic Balkan” trek from Istanbul to Split, Croatia. This is bound to be a lot more rowdy than my Intrepid trip, but I'm looking forward to the change of pace (so far, it's me and basically a ton of Aussies!). This whirlwind tour will take us through Turkey, Greece, Albania, Montenegro, and Croatia. I'm most looking forward to visiting Gallipoli, seeing the monasteries in Meteora, getting a glimpse of Albania, and walking the walls of Dubrovnik, Croatia.
From Split, I'm going to hop on up to Slovenia to recover from my month of non-stop travel and hopefully get some work done. The Slovenian Tourist Board has graciously offered to help me out for a few nights in Ljubljana, and then I'll be heading to Bled for a couple nights on my own. From everything I've heard about SLOVEnia from others, I have no doubt that I, too, will fall in love.
After Slovenia, I'm making my way to London for about 6 days, where I will not only be going to the Olympics, but am also determined to pack in as much sightseeing as possible. To make this easier, I've been given 2 London Passes to use during my stay, which will allow me to skip the lines at many of the city's top attractions. I already know I for sure want to visit the Tower of London, cruise the Thames, and see Westminster Abbey.
And, even though I know it will cut down on my sightseeing time in London, I'm planning to get out of the city, too. I'll be teaming up with Grayline for 1 or 2 day trips from the city. I definitely want to get out to Bath and Stonehenge, and also have my eyes on Oxford and the Cotswolds, with perhaps Stratford-Upon-Avon thrown in.
My UK adventures won't end in England, though. I'll be heading up to Scotland next, where, after a day or two of exploring Edinburgh, I'll be hopping on a 5-day “Highland Fling” tour with Haggis Adventures, a sister company of Busabout. I am really looking forward to this trip, which will include Loch Ness, the Isle of Skye, and more in the Scottish Highlands. And, I have no doubt that the trip will live up to the company's motto of being LEGEN- (wait for it…) DARY.
And, because a girl needs a place to sleep, I will also be working with Roomorama in both Budapest and Bled to rent rooms instead of staying in the typical hostels/hotels. In Budapest I'll be renting a room with a woman who works as a local tour guide, and I already can't wait to talk travel with her!
Another great accommodation booking site has joined on to my European adventure! I'll be working with HostelBookers in the UK in order to find some properties in Scotland.
I'll be teaming up with Urban Adventures (a sister company of Intrepid) at least once, maybe twice on my trip. I'm for sure doing a “Hidden Istanbul” tour, and may jump on another in London to see some big cities from a different perspective.
So why all the tours?
I know it's a question a lot of people will be asking me. After all, Europe is supposed to be “easy” to do on your own.
Well, I've opted for so many guided tours for a few reasons:
- I'm not one to pass up a great opportunity, and I consider working with these companies to be just that.
- I support these brands. Most focus on sustainable, responsible travel, and all have a young, fun philosophy that I can appreciate. These are companies that I legitimately want to work with.
- Guided tours are not the devil.
- I'm lazy. I've also just spent the past 8 months working my butt off in grad school. Honestly, if I had decided to do this trip completely on my own, it would not be nearly as long or as epic as it's going to be, simply because I would not have had time to plan anything. And I'm a planner at heart — for me, it's half the fun!
- I write about traveling on a “normal” person's schedule and budget. And, despite all my blogger friends who travel long and far, the reality for most of us is that we usually only have a few weeks at best in which to travel, and we don't want to have to stress about the details along the way. Guided tours can be perfect for these sorts of travelers, and so I want to try out some that I think would be perfect for the sort of audience who reads this blog.
So I think that's it! A big thanks to all these partners and sponsors. I can't wait to work with you!
Have YOU traveled with any of these companies before or used any of these services?
*This page will be updated if/when I partner with other brands/companies.
**Yes, I am receiving things for free/at a discount on this trip. But, as always, opinions will be 100% my own, as I am in no way being paid to say anything, good or bad.