Planning a trip to Europe is an exciting undertaking! But it can also be stressful, especially if it’s your first time traveling abroad, or just your first time traveling to a new location. Use these ten travel tips to help you plan and prepare for a journey in Europe.
- Get the best flights
Before you start planning to details of your journey to Europe, you need to make sure you are able to get to and from your destination, which means booking your flights! There are a few great ways to go about the flight-booking process.
First of all, if you’re flexible on destinations or on travel timeframe, you can sign up for a cheap flight notification service, like AirfareWatchdog.com or CheapOair.com. These types of websites post new affordable flight deals daily, and you can also input a specific destination to get notified when plane tickets are below a certain price threshold. These are great websites to bookmark for your trip-planning process.
Secondly, if you have your heart set on a certain destination, you can save on plane ticket costs by traveling there in the “off” season. Generally, all flights during the spring and summer months will be costlier than flights in the fall and winter months. If you don’t mind a bit of cold weather, consider planning a winter trip to Europe and you’ll save big bucks!
- Get your passport or Visa
Another crucial element of traveling overseas is making sure you have the proper documentation. In most cases, a passport will suffice, but some European countries may require tourist visas, depending on how long you are staying. Check the requirements ahead of time and do your homework to ensure a smooth trip.
- Make a packing list
After you lock in your transportation, the best place to start planning your journey to Europe is by making a list: specifically, a packing list. One of the biggest mistakes that many travelers make, even seasoned travelers, is over-packing. Prevent this mistake by working on your packing list ahead of time. Attempt to create capsule-outfits, with mix-and-match pieces that can be arranged in a variety of ways.
- Bring good walking shoes
Speaking of packing lists, one item you’ll definitely want to bring with you on a Europe journey is a good pair of shoes for walking, like supportive sneakers. The amount of walking you’ll be doing will vary from destination to destination, but in general, you can plan on having to walk a lot. Set yourself up for success (and minimal blisters or back pain) by bringing the right shoes.
- Pick the right rental vehicle
While many European cities are easily navigable by public transportation, or even just by walking, depending on where you are traveling, it may be prudent to rent a vehicle while you are overseas. Especially if you are planning on hoping between a few different cities, or even different countries, having your own car will help you have a smooth trip that’s entirely on your terms – no bus schedules or extra train ticket costs needed.
To maximize your travel budget, do your research to select a fuel-efficient car that’s available for rental in your destination city. This will help you save gas money, and put your budget where it matters: right back into travel!
- Don’t try to do too much
Once you’ve booked your transportation and secured a rental vehicle (if you need one), you can plan out exactly where you’ll be traveling to. But a great rule of thumb here is to not try to do too much. This is a major mistake that many travelers make. Make a list of your key priority sights to see or things to do, and plan your trip around them. If you overschedule your days, then you’ll spend your time rushing around and trying to stick to a schedule, and will lose that spontaneous element of living in the moment!
- Make reservations in advance
If there are specific sights you want to see, or places that you want to visit that require reservations, do yourself a favor and make these reservations in advance. For example, if you are traveling to Rome and want to see the Vatican or the Coliseum, you will need to get passes to visit both of these places. Lock in your spot by making these reservations ahead of time.
- Do your research on currency
Different countries in Europe may use different currencies, although it is a good bet that your destination will employ the Euro. Do your research ahead of time to understand the exchange rate, and also know the different values. In America, we are more used to paying with bills, but in Europe, coins hold a lot of value! You may have to get used to the idea of paying with small coins, but they are very effective and valuable.
- Travel protect your credit cards
Before you head abroad, make sure you have a credit card or payment option that won’t ding you every time you make an international transaction. Sign up for a credit card without travel fees, many of which also offer points or mileage benefits that you can add to while you’re traveling.
In addition, you’re going to want to alert your bank(s) before you travel, to avoid them freezing your card. Many banks will perceive overseas charges as fraud if you have not notified them of your travel plans.
- Ask the locals
Another one of the best tips for creating a memorable European journey is not being afraid to stray off the beaten path. When you stop into restaurants or check into hotels, ask the locals their recommendations for the best spots in town. Usually, people are happy to share their advice, and this way you’ll get the best chance of having an authentic, unique European vacation!