We have taken several Viking River Cruises and they make it so easy you really don’t have to plan too much. There are often parts of the trips with free time, so it is good to know what might be close by. The concierge on-board the ship can also help, but I like to research before I go anyway.
Our first trip to Europe was a Viking River Cruise, the Grand European. 14 days through 5 countries. I had never been out of the USA before and had no idea what it would be like. I was excited and a bit apprehensive as what to expect. Research helped ease the fear of the unknown. Even now that I know how easy it is, I still prep before a trip because I am so excited.
I love going on vacation and I love to organize. Put those together and I hope for an organized trip, but sometimes the best part of a trip is just enjoying the moment and going with the day. So this means good planning so you can pick and choose as you go.
My favorite planning tools is using MS Excel. My friends say I probably dream in MS Excel. I will never admit to that, but is probably not far from the truth. I use Excel spreadsheets for my travel organizing.
My MS Excel spreadsheet
I start with a calendar of events, it has flights and where we will be each day. This is a good list to look back at when remembering your trip. The time seems to go by so fast, every little bit helps. The calendar was fun to put together, helped familiarize me with the timeline. I used the cruise itinerary from the Viking Website. I printed out a copy of the calendar for my mom, so she could follow along and know where we were each day. I even had a countdown calendar to help plan the days before the trip.
Money exchange tab
I am good with math, but wasn’t sure if I would be able to figure it out, without studying the money first. Euro exchange is almost dollar to dollar and not too hard, but the Yuan in China is very different, $10 is equivalent to 65 Yuan. It is pretty easy to find pictures of the currency. I made a tab of the currencies and the exchange rates. One good formula in Excel and I could play with the numbers and adapt myself with what equivalents are.
Once we had the flight info, I made a tab for the flights, something I could print out give to my mom and also carry with me on the trip too. We have the info in our phones, but I never trust just one source. My husband always uses his phone, but for me, paper. I get a bit nervous when we are running through an airport. To me a piece of paper is easier to find and no batteries required.
Time conversion tab
I have a time zone conversion tab, sometimes I print that as well. I give one to my mom and to the kids, so we all have an idea of the best times to communicate.
Key places tab
From my calendar I can see where we will have some free time. I can then look up those places and find a few things to do. First trip we knew we were going to Marksburg castle, after some research, I found out the Deutsches Eck was close by. It turns out that the ship was docked next it. Before breakfast we jumped off the ship and explored before anyone was around. It was so awesome to have the place to ourselves. Just knowing what is around might give you that extra experience. Viking always gives you a map of where you will be walking around, but this was only a docking spot, where we were going to get on motor coaches, no town tour there.
Docking places tab
I have a tab with the Viking docking places. This way I can see what is around the docks. Most are city center, but some, like for Paris, are not near the city center. But there is always little city and some shops around to investigate. This came in very handy when my husband walked into town and bought me fresh flowers for the room. Viking noticed the fresh flowers and immediately got a vase and placed them in our room.
Picking extra excursions, add these to the calendar
For Viking trips you don’t need to ever schedule an extra excursion because they have great Itineraries. We did look at all of the extras and picked a few. This is where you can pick something only a small group is interested in and round out your experience.
Michele is a avid traveler and loves to share her experiences.