Student Reflections

Planning a Multi-City Trip

May 16, 2022

Any multi-city/location trip is going to be a challenge to plan, but it can be incredibly fulfilling and quite honestly, the most effective means of travel. Here are some tips before you even open your transportation apps to book the tickets.

1. Consider the airport!

While picking the biggest, most popular airport may be obvious, make sure you check out all your options. Some airports, like Florence, Italy, don’t support cheaper airlines and therefore we travelers miss out on good deals. My recommendation is to look at other airports like Pisa (if you’re in the Florence area) or another city directly off of a coast before flying. While I did splurge for the nice KLM flight from Florence to Amsterdam to Oslo for spring break, on the way back I decided to fly from Paris to Milan, a bit out of the way but quite cheaper!

Also, a reminder to check where you’re flying from when you book tickets. I’ve heard horror stories about frantic taxi rides and at-gate realizations!

2. Weather

Luckily, if you’re stopping in multiple cities in one go, most likely they won’t be too far from each other weather-wise. On my trip to Oslo, Bergen, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Paris, I was able to assume similar weather would hit all of the places. Also, because I’d be traveling every three days, I could re-wear options with little qualm. My travel companions were aware of this, of course, but hopefully, if you’re close enough to travel with someone, you’re close enough to re-wear a pair of pants in front of them.

What I didn’t account for: Bergen is the rainiest city in all of Europe! Somehow I missed this in my research and didn’t think to bring a raincoat. And then, somehow, a freak snowstorm hit Amsterdam, Paris, and Copenhagen at the same time. Temperatures plummeted and I was wearing all of my clothing at once just to keep from freezing over. For this, I would just recommend having plenty of indoor activities and outdoor activities planned and being flexible. We still trekked out to the botanical gardens in Copenhagen, even though there was a pretty bad ice storm going on outside, but found solace in a nearby museum!

3. Flexible Friends

Just as anyone else, I am no better than a giant toddler when I get stressed, hungry, and tired: whiney. It’s easy to find things to complain about, and easy to grow frustrated at your companions for just about any reason, but it’s important to stay flexible and appreciate the small victories of your journey. Yes, you had to rush to the airport and pay extra for a taxi, but you got to see the beautiful tulip fields just outside of Amsterdam. Yes, you don’t get to go to the restaurant you wanted to go to, but maybe this new one will have what you want as well.

The important thing is that you’re flexible – but so are your friends. I’m not speaking from bad experience here, but I’ve traveled with lots of different types of people and the best trips happen with those who plan but are happy to adjust at the drop of a hat. It’s a skill that I’ve barely ascertained myself, but admire greatly in others. By being around people who are so willing to compromise and don’t require perfect conditions to be happy, you achieve the same attitude.

Also, important things to think about with groups: is the planning evenly spread? How extraverted/introverted are people? What are your eating habits? Is there someone in the group with a good data plan? What time do you all go to bed?

4. Make the most of your day!

If you’re planning a multi-location trip, you probably need to make the most of each day. I never stayed longer than 2.5 days in each location I was in, and some of the places I left knowing best were the places we stayed in for under 24 hours. We did this by spending our time walking around and not actually doing anything besides maybe enjoying a nice meal or two! In Copenhagen and Amsterdam, I had so many events planned I left having barely seen the city. All we really got in were the walks between locations – and that isn’t to say that I disliked those cities most, It’s just to say that I wish I was able to leave with the full grasp I had of Paris and Bergen, each of which I habited for less than a day.

In Bergen, we walked around the bay, happening upon all the coolest places to see. If we’d made plans, we would have gone on a boat tour or a hike – two things that would have been incredible – but instead we just wandered the city, screaming laughter into the wind and pointing out birds only found in the Arctic.

In Paris, we walked 45 minutes to the Eiffel Tower, then grabbed a bus and watched the city pass us by as we headed over to the neighborhood where Moulin Rouge is, wandering through speakeasies and cocktail bars until we found a nice seat at a place with space heaters to push out the chilling wind.

That doesn’t sound like that much, but I got such a feel for both places in that time. A real appreciation of the culture, the architecture, and the lifestyle of the people that live there. 24 hours in the city – not 24 hours visiting the city.

5. Remember to remember!

Honestly, the one thing I’d recommend most is finding the time to journal, take photos, videos, or any other means of recording your trip. Reading back my journal from the beginning of my 9 day city-hopping adventure, I had written down so many silly little details that I never would have remembered on my own. For example, on the flight from Florence to Amsterdam, they gave us a very good sandwich on rye bread with spring onions and tomatoes, something so small that I surely would have forgotten about it, but now is a really fond memory of mine from the trip!

However you decide to travel, the most important thing to do is have fun. If you’re worried a trip like this will stress you out, then I encourage you to just go to one place and really get a feel for it! But if you’re as ambitious as I was, these helpful tips might make your trip run just a little bit smoother.