I wanted to do something special for my 30th birthday. I thought of a birthday party, but I’m not really a party person. I’ve only had 2 birthday parties, at 18 and 21.
My 21st birthday was a success, lots of people, food and gifts. But the challenge was I couldn’t attend to everyone, let alone eat.
So this time around, I just wanted to be happy,
call it selfish lol.
I thought about it, long and hard and finally I decided that it has to be a trip. A very special one. I thought of going to the best travel destination, but that doesn’t exists.
Then I visited my list of all the countries I’d like to visit, thinking that I’d just pick one. But that seemed impossible. And again I had a fear that I might get bored.
To be honest, I was very nervous having to plan a trip for 30 days. My biggest concern was the budget, will I have enough money? and how much is enough money?
Well I did have enough leave days,
so minus one problem.
The first attempt was a trip around the world, meaning visiting one country in each continent. Flights to move from one continent to the other were very expensive.
First attempt FAILED .
Then I visited the Contiki website and thought of taking one of their tours, but none of them suited me because they cover European cities I’ve covered before. So then I decided to create my own Contiki tour. One thing I learnt from the Contiki tours in Europe is they just travel to neighboring countries and in most cases just the capital city. So my Contiki tour was gonna be different because Petra in Jordan was top of my list. And that meant that I’ll have to travel to 2 continents.
The countries I decided on were Jordan, Switzerland, Greece and Spain. Four countries in 30 days sounded like a good plan.
So where do I start?
It made perfect sense for me to fly from Jo’burg to Jordan then Greece, then Switzerland and then Spain. It flows perfectly in an anti clock wise direction. But the flight to Jordan was very expensive. So I was back to square one again.
I’m naturally that person that won’t give up. I knew that there’s a way, I just have to find it.
Then I came up with a new strategy, to find the cheapest flight from Jordan to anywhere in the world,
I have 30 days to myself so I’ll just make sure I find a way back home within time. It was at that very moment that doors began to open because my new approach was flexible.
I used Skyscanner and found that the cheapest flight to Jordan is from Athens. And the cheapest flight out of Jordan was going to Milan. Jordan was officially confirmed as part of the trip and 2 cities were added.
But the flight to Jordan wasn’t a direct flight, it had a connection in Cairo. So 3 cities were confirmed. I decided to add 4 nights in Cairo just to catchup with some Egyptian friends.
My cheapest option from Jo’burg was to Munich with South African Airways. From there, take a flight to Thessaloniki in Greece. Greece was no stress at all because everything is cheap there. I managed to cover 3 cities, Thessaloniki, Kalambaka and Athens. I also could afford a return flight for a day visit to the romantic Greek island called Santorini.
The next biggest challenge was Switzerland, mainly because it’s expensive. I googled “how to visit Switzerland on a budget ” but all those sources kept on saying you can’t do it on a budget. The most expensive thing is Switzerland is transportation. I decided to purchase the Swiss travel pass for 3 days which gives you unlimited access to use any mode of public transport from ferries, to cable cars, buses and trains included. And also bought the Jungfrau train ticket which takes you to the highest peak in Europe. Paid R5500 for both tickets, that’s REALLY expensive. I booked accommodation in Stechelberg for 3 nights and booked 2 nights in Geneva, a destination inspired by Paulo Coelho’s book “Adultery”.
From Gevena I found a really cheap flight with Vueling to Barcelona and this time I had 1 wishlist, to watch the Barcelona FC match.
All this took 5 months, daily watching flight prices and waiting for them to drop. It was stressful at times but worth it.