Thursday, March 20, 2008

Europe: Tour or Independent Travel?

The internal discussion continues: buy a package tour or go it alone? Today I came up with draft 4 of an itinerary, this one involving driving myself through Ireland, flying from Shannon to Paris, and the rest being pretty much as before. The assumption being, I can overcome my mediocre driving and learn to drive temporarily on the left. I'd also like, perhaps, to find some of the Leahy family, since that's much of the point of going to Ireland if I'm an Irishman, isn't it?

I'm reading Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door 2008, and it's only encouraging my ill-mannered habits of going it alone. He's pegging lodgings at about $100 per night, which seems about right, when you throw in the single supplement and the $1.56 value of the euro.

I'm taking my MI&E (miscellaneous incidentals and expenses) costs from the Department of State. The domestic GSA rates always ran a little high for me, but they still provide a reasonable estimate of what one can expect to spend per day. I don't eat big meals all the time, so that's a cost-saver. Souvenirs are also not a big favorite, especially since I'd have to carry a ton of cr@p around across three countries. Of course there will be the occasional splurge (case of wine from France anyone? Waterford crystal, perhaps?).

Otherwise, I'll be more concerned with the occasional decent meal and writing supplies--oh yeah, and laundromat stops. The big rule seems to be "pack light." This is a reasonable request, given that there's only one of me. I shouldn't be bringing enough supplies to support Patton's Third Army, just little ol' me. And laundry machines can't be that hard to figure out overeas. If I can restrain myself down to $100 a day for MI&E, I should be all right, on average, but I should have enough in reserve for the occasional wild moment of extravagance. I also must be mindful of tourist stops, historic site admission, and the like. Oy! Maybe those per diem rates weren't so outlandish after all.

The research continues.

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