Traveling to Kefalonia, Greece
I keep making my way back to the Greek Islands. The warmth, the kindness of locals, the blue-ass water, tzatziki. It's simply the best. I've spent hours pouring over travel guides, blog posts, and Pinterest pages trying to find the perfect island.
Throughout my personal planning process (which includes a lot of color-coded notebooks and google map searches), I have never once been concerned about the cost to get there. And not because I'm loaded. Quite the contrary, I'm a public librarian on a budget with student loans, but I've never been concerned with the cost, because I know how to find the ~deals~
Traveling to Europe is a "once in a lifetime" experience for a lot of people. So you gotta make it worth it. I have a lot of information about travel that I want to share with others. I hope this post can answer some of your questions about...how is she always traveling? Who cares about Greece anyway? Why does she think I care about her and how she travels? (Side note, if you're still reading, you care!)
1. Locate your international airport and find the cheapest flight to get to Europe.
Flights.google.com is your new best friend. Using the "explore destinations" option allows you to see a map version of flights during the time of year you're anticipating to travel. Use the limiters (for non-stop, pricing, or specific airlines) to really hone in on the direct flights you can book from your closest international airport.
ScottsCheapFlights.com is your other best friend. Join the mailing list to get notified for flight deals and mistake fares, but you gotta act QUICK. We paid for the premium subscription for a year in preparation for this trip. We knew we wanted to go to Europe in the spring, but didn't have specific dates. The more flexible you can be with dates and location, the better the deal you will get. Once we got the email for a 24 hour deal from Tampa International Airport to London Gatwick for $485/each ROUND TRIP, Y'ALL with British Airways (including bags and non-stop), we booked that sucker!
Side note, Norwegian Air is another great option for finding cheap flights to Europe. Check them out, but be prepared for additional baggage fees. I've flown with them once before and it was a decent experience!
2. Congrats, you made it across the pond! Now let's get you that cheap-ass flight to Greece.
Again, Google Flights can really help you figure out the direct flights out of the London-area (be sure you aren't limiting to one airport in London, there are 6 that fly all around Europe). There are also helpful sites like Rome2Rio.com or FlightConnections.com that can show you flight routes to the Greek Islands from London (or whichever European airport you were able to snag that deal to).
EasyJet and RyanAir are the go-to budget airlines in Europe. Think of them like our Spirit and Frontier Airlines -- a little skeevy, a whole lotta upcharge. Be prepared to add an extra $50-100 in baggage and seat assignments to that CHEAP ASS total you'll see on those flights to Greece (still a hella steal though). If you don't care about where you sit or pack light, then you really will be able to get them deals. Plus: arrival flights in Europe exit from the front and back, so you get off the plane quicker!
We ended up flying out of London Stansted directly to Kefalonia for $132/each with RyanAir. The Stansted location was about a 40 minute train ride from London's city center.
And I love trains so win-win.
3. I'm going to Greece! Now what?
BRUH YOU ARE GOING TO GREECE. That is so cool! Greece is the best.
Do your research and try to figure out the ~vibe~ of each town. Ask yourself what you want from your trip: do you want to relax on the beach everyday? Do you want to be near public transit so you don't have to rent a car? Are you hoping to meet new people? Do you wanna party every night? Knowing what you want from your trip will guide you for where to stay, with research of course.
One of my go to methods is to use the MyMaps feature from Google. From the research I've done using blogs, travel guides, Pinterest, and Instagram, I start mapping out the points of interest I want to visit while I'm there. You can see an example of MyMap by clicking here. Seeing it on a map usually helps visualize which area to stay in depending on the concentration of points of interest. We ended up staying in Assos because LOOK AT HOW AMAZINGLY CUTE IT IS.
I always recommend using Airbnb to find locally-owned homes and/or boutique hotels. Not only are you supporting the local community, but they are always the nicest people! We stayed in the most incredible Airbnb that was actually operated by Kefalonia By Anna, a local blogger. Before booking, we reached out to her about her home and mentioned it being out of budget and she provided us a discount! Upon arrival she met us at midnight with a basket full of gifts and gave us all the insider scoop on where to go. And this is why you must meet the locals wherever you go!
4. Oh Kefalonia, Greece, you magnificent unicorn island.
Kefalonia was the best mix of relaxation, adventure, quietness, and brits (it's where they go on holiday, and yes I typed that in a British accent). The north end of the island is covered in small, vibrant fishing villages and secluded beaches. We rented a car to fully experience everything we wanted to for only $100 for 5 days. Since we went right before peak season, everything was super cheap and the beaches weren't quite littered with tourists yet.
5. Santorini and other honorable mentions.
I've been lucky enough to visit Santorini, twice, during the fall and spring. I highly recommend going during off-season to avoid the heaps of crowds that pour off cruise ships everyday at the ports. Santorini will give you the more classic, picturesque architecture that the islands are known for. Stay in Oia or Imerovigli for a quiet experience, or the capital Thira for more of a lively experience.
The next stop on my Greek Island list is Milos and I swear to god if any of you go there without me I'ma be PISSED (kidding, kinda). Crete and Mykonos are other top destinations for the Islands.
6. Hey, that was kinda easy! Or: let's apply this logic to EVERYWHERE in Europe.
With all this said, I hope you were able to find a nugget of travel info to help you get where you want to go. This next part will blow your mind, but this is kinda how I plan all of my trips (even domestically). By using this simple formula and adopting it to your travel dreams, I really believe you'll be able to explore anywhere you want.
We also spent a few days in London before and after our Greek adventure, because hey we were already there so why not? Maybe I'll share some memories from that trip as well.
I'm always open to questions, travel planning assistance, or general validation about what I'm doing. If you made it this far, I wish you the best travel experience ever!!!!
**Most of these photos were taken on 35mm film, Kodak Portra 400 and Fuji Superia 400, on a Nikon n90s and the Nikonos IV** I'm obvi super into photography, so feel free to reach out about that too :)