Chances are, if you are reading this article, this is your first time planning a trip to Europe. You may be absolutely overwhelmed by all the details that a trip like this involves. How will you ever get everything all figured out? It seems an impossible task, but if you follow these tips, I guarantee things will go smoothly (or, as smoothly as they can!)
Planning a Trip to Europe
- When you start planning a trip to Europe, begin by picking your destination(s). This seems fairly obvious, yes? But some countries are better visited at certain times of the year, so a place that might be wonderful in the summer may be not so fabulous in the fall or winter. Be sure to check out special holidays and events that your country of choice might be known for, as well, and ensure your timing is right. Visit your country’s official tourism website for information about the best times to visit.
- Make sure your documents are up-to-date. Nothing can ruin a vacation faster than an unexpectedly expired passport. In addition to a passport, you will need a valid driver’s license if you plan to rent a car while you are inEuropeand some countries require an International Driving Permit as well, so be sure you have everything covered that you need. If you don’t have a passport, it can take four to six weeks to obtain, so make sure you begin the process at least two months in advance of your trip. (Expediting services are available but they are costly!)
- Plan your itinerary. You don’t have to plan out every day and every side trip you intend to take, but a rough idea of where you are going and when will help establish both flights and lodging. If you plan to arrive and depart from the same city, you can make round-trip flight reservations; if you plan to travel around and leave from somewhere other than where you arrived, you should make other arrangements.
- If you plan to stay in only one place or travel in-country very little, or if you are quite experienced with overseas travel, you can probably book your airfare and accommodations yourself. However, if you have a complicated itinerary, you may want to have a professional travel agent help you when planning a trip to Europe.
- Take care of things at home. Line up a house-sitter or ask some trusted friends to watch your place while you are gone. Contact the post office if you want to have your mail held. Let your credit card company know that you are traveling and will be making purchases overseas; this will keep them from thinking that your card has been stolen. Have someone take your pets or put them in a boarding facility.
- Pack. The earlier you can start, the better. Make lots of lists of things you will need. It has been proven that packing earlier (as opposed to last minute) lessens the chances that important things will be left behind.
That’s it for planning a trip to Europe! Now, you can relax, and enjoy the vacation of a lifetime!
And for more ideas on where you might want to go, check out Five Must-See Cities by Sara Pierson, who recently spent two months backpacking through parts of Europe, after planning a trip to Europe.