So, the stage is set for your travel plans this year. You chosen to travel to Europe because it just feels right, but you begin to panic a little because you’ve started to psych yourself out by thinking, ‘How do I plan my trip?’ After all, you’ve usually traveled domestically, and there’s a good chance that most of that was in a car for an epic road-trip. You figure if you forgot or needed something, you’d take care of it along the way or at your destination. Traveling to Europe, though, is a little different because you can’t really stop along the way over the Atlantic.
You know this is the trip you’ve been waiting for, but it can be daunting to figure out where to start. Rather than stress out too much over your travel plans, use these nine steps as a guide to help put your travel plans into perspective & keep the joy of knowing you’re going to Europe:
1. Choose A Destination – Sure, you’ve chosen Europe, but that’s a continent. You need to figure out where you’ll be visiting, so sit down & hash out a list of places you’d like to visit, the time you’d like to spend there, and how it all works on the amount of time you have for your vacation. This is a key step because you’re having to choose between places like England, France, Italy, Germany, and Spain, so take your time & don’t procrastinate.
2. Create A Budget – You’re investing money in your trip, but you don’t want to break the bank. The best way to keep your money in check is to create a budget with which to operate. This is not just for how much your trip will cost but also how much you’ll allow yourself to spend on food, souvenirs, and other spur-of-the-moment possibilities.
3. Travel Documents – You need to make sure your passport is in order, and it wouldn’t hurt to check on documentation on additional ID, prescriptions, and emergency contact information.
4. Figure Out Your Travel – If you’ve chosen to visit a particular city, you want to think of the best way to get to your lodging. Is it by train or bus? Also, since you’re flying, where will be the best airport to fly into (i.e., if going to England, Heathrow or Gatwick; if going to France, Charles de Gaulle or Paris Orly)? You also want to figure out how best to get to the places you want to check out on your trip, and this will also help you establish a home-base of sorts.
5. Make At Least One Itinerary – As you start your planning, make rough drafts of how your trip will play out with destinations, lodging, and travel. Remember that there should be drafts as in more than one. You’ll find that fine-tuning your itinerary will be vital.
6. Guidebooks – Don’t think of guidebooks as “touristy” because the purpose of them is to help tourists. Find one or two that really provide good info & use them to your advantage. “Touristy” or not, they help.
7. Too Much To Do – Since you’re making itinerary drafts, remember one key item – don’t overdo it on the activities. You’ll end up wearing yourself out which is no fun. For example, checking out France is exciting, but travel experts cite that it would be easier, depending on how much time you’re traveling, to visit a city at a time. If you’re there for a weekend, try only Paris.
8. Little Things – Start thinking about how a house-sitter or pet-sitter. You’ll also want to check on your cellphone capabilities abroad, and you certainly want to put a temporary freeze on receiving mail or ask a neighbor to pick it up for you. This also helps so that they know you’ll be out-of-town & can keep an eye out.
9. Practice Packing – In the same way you used to try on clothes for the first day of school, you want to pack what you think you need & see if it works with your luggage and your ability to actually carry your stuff around. If you’re having trouble maneuvering your luggage or you’ve packed too many things, you might want to rethink an item or two & try again.
You once thought, ‘How do I plan my trip to Europe?’ Now, with this list as a guide, your thoughts should be on more important things like having fun & making lifelong memories.