If you’re anything like me, going to Greece has been your dream since 2008 when you saw Mamma Mia! in theaters for the first time. Since I am making my dream of doing so come true next year, I thought it only fair that I share with you how I did it so that hopefully you can have your own Donna Sheridan Summer.
Through this series I will be taking you through my steps from budgeting my trip, planning destination, saving my money, booking flights and rooms, packing and finally the trip itself. This particular article will focus on my budgeting to ensure that I could even make this trip possible as a college student.
First things first were finding plane tickets. I did this using Google Flights to compare prices from several airline companies and through a particular stroke of luck was able to find round trip tickets from Seattle to Athens for about $1500. During the ticket searching process, I did try to see what other islands I could fly into. However, at the end of the day, the flight I chose was not only the cheapest, but I wanted to go to Athens anyways.
Starting there gave me more variety of where I could travel once I landed. From there I needed to plan where I wanted to go in Greece and for how long to properly plan out my spending and ensure an accurate budget to save up.
This step took a little more focus seeing as I was planning a solo month-long trip to a foreign country and I wanted to make sure that I utilized my time to get the best out of the experience while also staying safe. That is where Tik Tok, travel blogs, Reddit and copious amounts of Google came in because despite having a general idea of the islands I wanted to visit I didn’t want to overextend myself which is why my initial plan was to stay on each island I intended to visit for a week. Those initial islands were Athens, Crete, Santorini, and Mykonos, the most popular Greek islands. I was sure that I would be able to fill my days soaking in sun, culture and history while still allowing myself to have day trips to the other islands I would not be staying on. Having each island chosen I was then able to determine the costs for my stay there which included transportation, boarding, meals, shopping and activities.
I found and calculated this information by checking travelers’ blogs and city websites. From there I was able to calculate averages by day, add them and then plug everything into my slides form where I had also input equations that would do any other math for me. Thinking I had the basis of my trip laid down, I posted my general travel plan to a Greece travel forum on Reddit where I got lots of feedback, most of which told me I was limiting myself in my stay so I decided to give my itinerary another go.
Thus the second draft of my travel plan was born, this time including more islands. Surprisingly this process was relatively easy the second time around. I added back the island I most wanted to visit, Skopelos, the island where Mamma Mia was filmed, and even found another island that many travelers were quite fond of called Corfu that is said to be beautiful for nature lovers. From there it was a simple step of recalculating my budget which turned out to be cheaper than the original trip since I was spending less time in the more touristy locations and more on smaller islands.
The final part of the initial planning phase was finally letting my form add all of the totals together to calculate my overall estimated budget which I then rounded up in case of any unforeseen circumstances. Knowing my estimated budget then allowed me to come up with a plan of saving the money for my trip. I set my goal for having everything booked and paid for as March 12th, 2022 which would be a little less than 3 months before my trip began, and divided the total estimated budget by the number of weeks I had until then. This has a plan of saving $200 a week until March letting me slowly save up the money and book everything far in advance.
Thus far this plan of action has worked incredibly well with my tickets already being purchased and instead of using my paycheck I simply use my week’s tips to put towards this trip. While I still have a lot to plan, I am getting closer and closer to my dream summer vacation and I cannot wait to take you along on this journey with me.