40th Birthday Trip: Let the Planning Begin

Planning for Europeopens IMAGE file
Trip Planning for Amsterdam, Bruges and Brussels

Yesterday ZeldaMae and I met up at a Barnes & Noble to being itinerary planning for my 40th birthday celebration to Amsterdam, Bruges, and Brussels later this month. We leave in two and a half weeks! Our tickets have been booked – round-trip to Europe, baby! – so it’s not like this is totally last minute planning.

After picking up Rick Steves’ Amsterdam, Bruges, and Brussels and two Lonely Planet guides, Brussels Bruges Antwerp and Ghent Encounter and Amsterdam Encounter, we spent the evening back at her dining room table with dueling laptops, guidebooks, maps and Easter candy planning our trip. Regarding a place to stay, Rick Steves’ guide and opens in a new windowwebsite and opens in a new windowTripAdvsior.com were useful in the planning process.

The problem we found with the guidebooks:

  • Rick Steves’ guide lists several family-owned hotels and B&Bs (which is a bonus) but although they have websites, checking for availability means either emailing or calling. We’re all about cute, charming and unique accommodations, but we’re Americans and need instant gratification in the reservation process. If we couldn’t book it then, we moved on to the next hotel.
  • Lonely Planet’s Encounter guides listed hotels with website addresses and found many of the accommodations were either closed for renovations or the URLs weren’t being maintained anymore. Amsterdam was published in 2009 while Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp & Ghent was published in 2008.

When the trip’s over, I’ll provide more feedback on these guidebooks. I’m confessing to being a big Rick Steves fan and if the spirit moves you, check out his book Travel as a Political Act. Anyway…

Apparently the weekend we arrive in Amsterdam is a busy one because many accommodations we found were either booked or had very high rates. Thanks to TripAdvisor, we found opens in a new windowCitizenM Hotel which earned TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice for “Trendiest Hotel in the World” for 2010. CitizenM is receiving rave reviews from the travel community for being a travel geek’s 21st century hotel, right up my alley!

Bruges and Brussels accommodations were a bit easier to find. Next step in the planning is making a list of things to do, like tiptoeing through the tulips, pedaling bicycles over cobblestone streets, and tasting the flavors of The Netherlands and Belgium like chocolate, frites and beer.

Thanks to  opens in a new window@WhosYourAnnie, (recommended opens in a new window@coolcapitals and opens in a new window@visitholland) for tweeting what to do and where to stay during this journey.



Jennifer A. Huber is an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, SoloTravelGirl.com with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. The unexpected death of her former husband in 2008 reminded her how short life is. His passing was a catalyst for sharing her experiences with the goal of inspiring and empowering others to travel solo. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

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