#BeforeWeBoard — Off to Portugal
It’s been a few months since I’ve really travelled, so I’m super excited to report I’ll be heading to Portugal for a week in a few days! I’m looking forward to the beautiful landscapes, plentiful libations and the lovely ladies … three ladies in particular, actually. Yes everyone, this is a GIRLS TRIP! TURN UPPPPP!!
I can still remember strolling through the grocery aisle while typing away in our group chat when the idea of us doing a bigger trip came up. We’d done Las Vegas and NYC, but it had been a while since we’d really gone “international” as a group. What I love about these ladies is that we don’t ever really need an excuse to travel, but we came up with one this time — our 10 year anniversary! Of course we needed to celebrate this, how could we not??! #CelebrateEverything. Now the only question was where do we go?? Our top criteria: warm weather, the beach, good food, picturesque sights and doable in a week, all pointed to Europe. Then our love of wine tipped the scale to Portugal. With its gorgeous beaches in the south, renowned vineyards in the north and its lively capital, Portugal seemed like the perfect backdrop to an epic girls trips.
The Prep Work:
We booked our flights about 2 months before we intended to leave and got a pretty good deal. I noticed the prices started to climb about 20-30 days before departure, so I’m glad we didn't wait last minute. I got a direct overnight flight from Montreal; just the way I like to fly. For accommodations, given it’s 4 of us we opted to book all our stays through Airbnb. I found it to be much more cost-effective, gives us more space and the flexibility to actually chill out together, rather than move between two separate hotel rooms. Lastly, we booked two tours through Viator and Get Your Guide and all our train travel between cities in advance (apparently it’s cheaper to do so). When it came down to doing the research, I used a combination of TripAdvisor, Instagram, The Culture Trip and personal blogs, especially this one — super useful when it came down to deciding where to stay. Drawing up a general itinerary and keeping track of our spending was a breeze thanks to Google Docs and the app Splitwise! It would have been a bunch of disjointed emails and complicated Excel spreadsheets without them, so this girl is eternally grateful.
Like I mentioned, we wanted to have a GENERAL itinerary of the week to avoid missing out on anything major and to make the most of our time there. It’s funny how different travel personalities shine through on group trips. You have the “crazy-planner” lady (*🙋🏾♀️, guilty … feel free to see how guilty here*) and the “go-with-the flow” girls. For us and in true 10-years of friendship fashion, we met right in the middle. I took a step back from my type-A planning frenzy, which felt very nice and we spread the work around. Those who enjoyed planning simply planned a bit more and we’re all really happy with the end result.
What we came up with was:
Algarve (Lagos) → Porto → Lisbon
We’re spending 3 days in Algarve because well, beach vibes lol, and two days in both Porto and Lisbon.
My biggest concern:
First, I`m worried that the trip will feel rushed. We were pretty bold with this itinerary and all we’d like to see. I’ll have to make the conscious effort to slow down and take it easy! Second, the timing of the trip. We had originally planned for early September when the beaches are still busy and the weather is still pretty hot, but couldn’t coordinate all our work schedules. So we settled on October. I’m just worried the sea temperatures will be too cool for actually swimming in the Algarve, but we do have the benefit of it being the shoulder season, so less crazy crowds. Keeping my fingers crossed and manifesting beautiful, warm weather!
What I’m looking forward to the most?
The Douro Valley tour, without a doubt! We will be spending the day touring different vineyards, tasting wine and learning about this historic place. Of course, I’m extremely excited to be discovering a new country with my forever friends, strolling down foreign streets with azulejos-lined buildings and taking in the charm of the country.