How to Organize the Perfect Trip to Europe
Planning a trip to Europe can seem like an overwhelming task. There are so many places to go, things to see, and foods to try. Being organized will ensure you don’t miss a thing, so I’ve included a free travel planning guide worksheet just below this paragraph. Here is a list of steps you can take for planning the perfect trip to Europe.
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Pick where you want to go
First things first, pick where you want to go! When it comes to Europe, everything is so close together, I highly recommend you plan a longer trip so you can hop around. If you’re coming from somewhere outside of Europe, planning a longer trip can be more cost-effective because once you’re in Europe, it is relatively inexpensive to travel around. It’s much cheaper to go to multiple places all on one trip instead of paying for a big flight each time you want to see a place. With that said, I highly recommend you set at least 2 weeks aside for a trip to Europe.
I also suggest you pick places that are in the same area as each other for time efficiency. You want to utilize all the time you have on activities, less on traveling from each location.
When picking where you want to go, think about the type of vacations you enjoy most. Are you more into hiking in the mountains or relaxing by the beach? Factors such as these will help you decide where to go.
Another huge factor on choosing where to visit, depends on who you plan to travel with. Traveling with family, with friends, or going solo will determine where it’s best to go. For example, there are places I would never travel solo based on safety and the activities offered.
When figuring out where you want to go, consider the time of year you plan to travel. The top destinations in Europe will be packed during the summer so you might prefer to go somewhere less visited during that time of year. If you plan to travel during the winter, pick warmer locations if you don’t like the cold. Visiting warmer locations during the winter that most people go to during the summer won’t take away from the experience. I went to Rome once in February and would do it again. The weather was still great and there were no lines to get in anywhere!
Plan things to do
Do your research to find out what each place has to offer (my blog will help with that!!!). Once you have a list made up for each destination, put them in order of priority.
My biggest tip for you is to use google maps to your advantage. Once you have your list of activities ready, map the location of each of them out! Save the locations of each activity. This will help you structure each day of your trip better. You’ll be able to visually see what activities are in the same area and can plan to do all those on the same day rather than unnecessarily zig-zagging your way through a place.
Find out the best restaurants and specialty foods to try
If you’re anything like me, finding the best foods to try and restaurants to go to are always a priority. Research specialty foods of where you’re visiting along with great restaurants to go to, then make a list! I always like to add a description of what each specialty food is, in case I forget.
Book a flight
Buying your ticket in advance is almost always best. I suggest using Skyscanner! It’s a search engine that’ll show you flights with the lowest rates. Once you find a flight you want, go to the airline’s website to purchase it instead of buying it through a booking company. Often times, the flight will be cheaper on the airline’s own website.
If you’re wanting accommodation that’s cheaper than a hotel, look for a hostel. The best platform to use is Hostelworld. Type in your destination and the hostels in that area will pop up along with photos and reviews of each hostel. Once you find the hostel you want to book, check to see if you can book directly from the hostel’s website, as it will most likely be cheaper.
Airbnb is also a great option for finding accommodation. Airbnb has different types of accommodation to fit your needs.
Plan transportation while on your trip
It’s a good idea to figure out how you’re going to get around in each place. If you go to a bigger city, there will be a metro and bus system for you to get around. Do your research and find out the best pass you can buy that fits your needs. Buying a transportation pass can end up being cheaper (depending on how much you plan to use it) than buying individual tickets each time you want to ride the bus or metro. In many European cities or towns, you're able to walk everywhere so you won't always need to worry about transportation.
When planning transportation from one destination to the next, I highly recommend using Omio. The platform compares prices between trains, flights, and buses. There is a common misconception people have about the trains in Europe. Everyone seems to think they are cheap! Most of the time, they are the most expensive option!
In reality, buses are the cheapest option, but it takes longer to get to where you’re going. If you have time to spare, buses are bearable. I once took an overnight bus from Paris to London through the Chunnel for 30 dollars! I got to go to London for 30 dollars! That’s so satisfying to say.
Planes are usually your second cheapest option and get you quickly from one place to the next. The downside is all the hassle involved with airports. Ultimately, if you have the money to take a train, it is the eco-friendliest option and can offer scenic views.
Make sure your passport is up to date! Most countries require your passport to be valid for 6 months after your arrival in their country. If it expires within 6 months, you won’t be allowed in.
Not all passports are created equal. Some passports are stronger than others, which means you may or may not be required to get a visa to enter another country. For example, an American may be allowed into a country without a visa, but someone coming from a different country may be required to get one. Always check to see if a visa is needed to enter the country you’re wanting to visit.
Before leaving on any trip call your bank! If you travel internationally and try to use your card, the bank may think someone has stolen it, resulting in it being blocked. Depending on your bank, you might also be able to use the mobile app to change the locations where your card can be used.
Set up an international phone plan before you leave. See what your phone company offers to ensure you have a data plan set in place.
Always check-in for your flights the day before. Triple check the departure time and triple check your calculations on when you'll need to leave for the airport to ensure you arrive with enough time to get to your gate!
Wrapping it up
There you go! All you need to know about organizing a trip to Europe! Don't forget to download your free travel planning guide worksheet located at the top of this post!