Planning a trip to Europe is both dreamy and challenging. We are talking about a whole continent! That too with endless avenues to explore and places to cover. Europe practically has beauty in every nook and corner. That’s why planning a trip here demands a lot of thought and calculation.
It is a common perception that Euro Tour can leave a big hole in your pocket. Well, not completely true. If you strategize your vacation in sync with your travel style, goals and budget, you can have the greatest experience of your life without having to worry about the expenses.
Besides finances, there are many other impediments that need to be taken care of for Europe. Like what all places to prioritize (like I said, there’s too much to see), how to determine the travel time for each destination without rushing from one place to another, how to get the flight and hotel bookings done, so on and so forth.
So here is a step by step chart to help you plan your trip to Europe with minimum hassle.
1. Keep your Itinerary light and slow
Travelers often see Europe as a single vacation. Mostly, you are time-crunched and tight-budgeted. Plus the airfare to Europe is so exorbitant that you feel like doing it all in one go. Bad idea!
Don’t ever try to cover as many cities as possible in one Euro trip. It’s both costly and exhausting. I am repeating it- Europe has countless places to explore. If you rush into things, you might end up losing your mind with the check-ins and check-outs.
Instead, plan Europe section wise. I’m sure you have a bucket-list, but plan one area of the atlas at a time! Also here are some words of wisdom- Don’t just visit a country; live it instead.
2. Estimate your Budget
You obviously have a travel piggy bank. Count what you have in it. Then check out the airfare, hotel rentals and plan a daily budget regarding food, sightseeing, transportations, etc. A quick advice would be to look for hotels and flights beyond page 1 of your search engine. You will definitely get better options.
Based on all this research, you can decide the number of cities your budget can afford in one trip. You can find ample websites serving price guides for European destinations. You can also compare the price lists mentioned alternatively and weigh your options. For instance, Euro Rail is considered a cheaper transport than car rentals and flights. Although some places (like Italy) demand to be explored the best in a car. Likewise, a specific area in the city offers hotels and hostels at lesser fare than some posh areas. Choose your options cleverly.
And learn how to get free flights and hotels with the best travel credit cards.
3. Pack According to the Weather
Europe is an unpredictable country, weather-wise. So be prepared for a romantic rain without any premonition. Always, always carry your monsoon essentials (raincoat, umbrella) with you. Europe is winterish for most part of the year. Also, climate varies significantly even in neighboring countries. Always carry a good warm woollen with you, with a few exceptions.
Other than that, Europe requires a lot of walking. Carry your most comfortable footwear like flip flops, floaters and sports shoes along.
4. Go for Ultralight Packing
While in Europe, there will be a lot of packing and unpacking. That’s because you will travel from one country to another at least 3-4 times. It’s best to act like a practical globetrotter. Take minimum luggage with you. Keep the what-if’s aside and pack only what’s absolutely necessary.
5. Euro Rail Pass is not a mandate
Most of you must have heard about the scenic beauty and economic viability you get to experience with European Railways that interconnect all the countries. Well, conditions apply. A Euro Rail Pass that travelers purchase thinking they are saving a few bucks could actually not be saving anything at all.
Go for a Rail Pass only if you are planning to spend most of your trip in long-distance high-speed trains. More so, book these tickets well in advance to avail discounts. Check out the regional websites to get the best offers.
6. Avoid Over-Planning and Over-Booking
Organizing skills pay you off well. But excess of everything is bad. Most travelers pre-book all the major sightseeing spots they have on their list, be it museums, art galleries, boat cruises or walking tours. What they don’t see coming is fatigue, ill health, foot blisters, bad weather or any such unfavorable thing. Bottom line- you lose more money than you could have possibly saved from pre-booking.
Plan wisely. If you are going in peak season, pre booking could be the best strategy. Like for the Eiffel Tower in Paris, or the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Else, stow your planning if it’s possible to making bookings instantly, or after you hit the ground.
7. Do super-intensive Research for Every Destination
Traveling Europe can be a challenge if you are a little loose with the local languages of the places you visit. Obviously, knowing all of them is crazy. But you can always learn a few important liners to help get from A to B.
Besides, know your itinerary in advance. Make an in-depth study about the local transportations, best food joints, the hidden getaways of every city. Even while traveling country to country, look for discounted tickets on EasyJet or Ryanair. Or if you are visitng the Irish Countryside, a car rental will make your travel more memorable. For food, you may want to try a Pizza in Naples than anywhere else in Italy.
The Internet is flooding with informations like these. Make the most of it.
8. Use Local Apps, But Don’t Cross out Guidebooks
Always make sure to download the updated versions of local popular mobile apps wherever you go. Apps help you get better informed about food, transport, things you actually need to see, local dialect and much more. About the Internet, most of the public places and hotels offer free Internet.
I may be inviting disagreement in this case, but guidebooks are still a better way to explore the heart of any city. Call me old fashioned, but I still favor them over gadgets. Electronics could be highly risky and costly. You need to put them on charger as soon as you enter in your room. Using them in the sun is extremely annoying; you can’t see the screen. And if there’s no free Internet around, Internet packs may cost you a fortune.
Purchase a $20 Guidebook to travel the city like a local. Its cheaper and better.
9. Prefer Buying Euros from Europe
Aside from the minimum that you need to get to Europe, don’t purchase all the Euros you need for travel from your home country. You will have to incur the fees, plus you may get them at a lousy Exchange Rate.
Call your Bank and inquire about the international ATM charges, as they vary extensively from one bank to another. Prefer purchasing the local currency from local ATMs for better Exchange rates. In most cases, you will be able to locate an ATM at the airport itself.
10. Prepare for Emergency
Europe is a safe continent. But thefts can occur anytime, anywhere. Make sure you are absolutely prepared for any such incident. Create a list of all the emergency contact numbers of all the places you are going to visit. The public services in Europe are pretty stringent. So you will surely be heard.
For any financial emergency, make necessary arrangements well in advance, in case you fall short of funds. Keep a reliable source ready in your homeland, who may be willing to help you out in a no-cash situation.
Also, medical emergency is very important. Check your medical cover and its international viability before leaving for your trip.
11. Consider Travel Insurance
It’s not an additional expense, but an assurance of your already incurred expenses. Options like Trip Cancellation Insurance, Medical Insurance, Flight Ticket Insurance help you save yourself from the wrath of any unforeseen contingency.
Check your medical cover if its viable for overseas emergencies. Other than that, get all the insurances done as soon as you make all the major bookings. A number of Airlines and Travel operators provide tis facility. Compare the options and go for the one with maximum benefits.
12. Have Extra Days For Anything Extra
Well, this happens with me almost always. I am bound to miss out a few places I didn’t know about or plan in my trip. And with the tight-packed schedule, I have to miss it. Hence, always keep a day or two spare in your itinerary. You never know what may come aboard.
Finally, when everything is set, just relax! Stow the excitement and get ready for the most amazing vacation of your life! Europe has something in store for every kind of traveler. So whether you travel solo, with family or friends, or with your love, you wouldn’t want to come back.