I haven’t traveled solo since I spent a month in India in 2013. I’ve been plenty of places since then—London, Reykjavik, Dublin, Paris—but they’ve been trips shared with friends or family. Which are lovely in their own way, of course.

Traveling alone, though…there’s something wonderful about the solo trip, and I’ve been itching for another one recently.

I’d been mulling on where I might go next for ages. Australia still ranks high up there. And Japan is starting to creep up my list, too.

But then a few months ago, I spent a weekend on a Netflix binge, enjoying the hell out of every episode of Somebody Feed Phil, the most wonderful, heartwarming travel show there ever was. Seriously, watch this trailer:

In episode 4, Phil travels to Lisbon. Within a few minutes of the show, I was smitten. Colorful and chock full of character, Lisbon looks like a dreamland for a vacation filled with walking and sightseeing and eating and people watching…all the things I love in a great getaway. 

I did a little more looking into it and everything I found about Lisbon only further convinced me that it would be my next destination. With that decision made, I set about figuring out how to make it happen, from when I could go to where I should fly into, thinking maybe I’d couple the trip with a jaunt to Spain, another place I’ve not been but would love to see.

Always on the hunt for great flights, the travel gods worked their magic as right around this time I discovered FlyGlitch, a service that shoots you an email when fares are messed up or on the fritz. Literally within a week of joining the service, I got an alert that there were super cheap flights from Chicago to Madrid.

A few searches and a consultation with my calendar later, I had a flight booked for the end of May! Round trip to Madrid for under $400.

It was a total impulse buy, sure. But work has been going well and I don’t have to ask anyone for the time off, soooo…why not? 

Flight booked, I went about sorting out how best to split up my time between Madrid and Lisbon, how to get between the two and where I’d stay in each place. In the end, I’ll be spending four days in each city, plenty of time to soak up all the culture and eat all the tapas and pasteis de nata. I’ve booked cute studio apartments in each city, and I plan to spend the week doing a minimum amount of work and a maximum amount of recharging and getting my head on straight.

Oh, and blogging. I’m sure I’ll be blogging.

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