We began this adventure in part 1 of this series by selecting and purchasing a Porsche Macan S for our road trip of a lifetime. This segment focuses on building an itinerary that challenges both the car and ourselves while maintaining our slow travel mantra: what is the hurry… be inspired.
Planning the Road Trip
This is going to be our longest adventure to date, consuming the entire month of September while driving a new car through four countries - but what a journey it will be! The actual planning of any excursion requires a lot of thought and research as you are investing both time and money for that “special” experience - so build that inspired travel itinerary!
Our favorite time to visit Europe is in early September… the weather is usually perfect and the crowds go away since “vacation time” is over and most schools are back in session. With fewer travelers the flights, and housing options are usually more flexible and negotiable too.
An added wrinkle this year is that the Euro/dollar exchange rate is so favorable to the USD that more American tourists are heading for the continent, and so things such as flights and housing options are a bit competitive.
The three most important criteria in this phase are selecting a destination city, determining the number of driving hours between way points, and finally deciding if a vacation rental makes more sense than booking a hotel.
One of the most important points of any vacation adventure is to simply understand why you are even going there in the first place. A destination city must offer abundant points of interests, an interesting history, culinary options (especially Michelin-rated restaurants), and extraordinary museums and landmarks – whatever you believe to be important enough to justify the time and expense to get there.
Besides what is in the city be sure to include what is around the location. The proximity to special day trip/side trip sites can have a positive impact. In our case think castles and mountains and lakes and seaside villages… short drives and returning to a familiar place is a big plus.
On this trip, we decided to select the more scenic routes and smaller, less congested cities, deliberately avoiding as many large cities as possible. An added “must have” was to find a secure parking place or garage at each of our selected lodging (yes, it's simply new-car paranoia).
Number of Drive Hours Between Destination Cities
Our go-to driving aides consist of a Garmin GPS, the ViaMichelin app, and a really good-quality, old fashioned paper map. Using your smartphone device while on the road is very expensive and subject to a provider’s coverage while the Garmin does not require data roaming charges. WiFi is your friend, so do trip updates and searches in your hotel/vacation rental and use a GPS on the road.
Think about the drive time between locations and how much you want to spend in a car - new or not, that can get old fast. We use a general rule of thumb: the longer the drive segment the longer the destination stay.
So now you are armed with a few tools so list your selected cities, and plot your course.
Vacation Rental or Hotel Booking
Suggestion one: Vacation rental or hotel? As a rule of thumb if you are staying for more than three nights a vacation rental is the way to go - better value for the dollar and much larger quarters to stretch out and relax.
Suggestion two: When selecting vacation rentals or hotels there are a few key things to take into consideration. Always check the reviews either from the rental’s site (HomeAway is pretty accurate) or the hotel’s site (TripAdvisor also maintains accuracy). A place with no reviews raises a big red flag and you should look elsewhere. If no one took the time to write one, that says a lot.
Suggestion three: Look carefully at all the pictures (they must have pictures or another red flag). Look out for photos with “rounded edges,” which usually indicates a fisheye lens was used to make a small room appear larger. Also look for quality bedding and towels - cheap stuff looks cheap! That sets the tone for the overall condition of the unit.
Suggestion four: Communicate with the property management and note their responsiveness as well as professionalism. Red flags get easy to spot with a little practice.
Our Road Trip Routing
Once again, we were pleasantly surprised by the Porsche European Delivery Program team. After a brief email exchange they requested our “potential” itinerary with the intent of possibly adding some unique suggestions.
Their turnaround was amazing, and within 24 hours they sent us an improved itinerary with maps, driving routes with mileage notations, suggested points of interest, and dining and hotel recommendations… all prepared by Porsche Travel Club experts.
Two of their many suggestions were places that most travelers would miss. The Grossglockner High Alpine Road is one of the most fascinating panoramic roads in Europe, leading 48 kilometers to the heart of the Hohe Tauern National Park, is an amazing addition to the ultimate road trip plan.
Driving any car on this slope would be exciting… but a performance vehicle? Makes for a great side trip!
Another side trip was near Salzburg: the Werfen Giant Ice Caves, the largest ice caves in the world.
We finally developed our routing through four countries, creating a round-trip loop beginning and ending in Stuttgart using the ViaMichelin app on our home system. Our estimated mileage is 1,300 miles and fuel / toll expense is approximately 480 USD.
We are now set with eight destination cities - including three vacation rentals and five hotels - in four countries for the month of September. We are locked and loaded with reservations, euros, a travel credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees (Bank of America Travel Rewards), “WhatsApp” (www.whatsapp.com) for free texting from/within Europe, smartphone calling plans, and most importantly a positive attitude anticipating the new and exciting adventure that awaits us.
Please follow us for part 3 of the series: the delivery, which begins with arriving in Stuttgart to meet “Max” (yes we name our cars, too!).
After all, what is the hurry… be inspired.
© 2015 Inspired Travel Itineraries with Bob and Janice Kollar
Picture Credit: Courtesy of Porsche Travel Club / PCNA and Michelin