Set a budget
All vacations start with a budget. The good thing is that depending on where you go and how you prefer to travel in Europe; your travel budget can go a long way. Obviously, if you only stay at high-end hotels and eat at the finest places; then you’ll blow your budget quickly. There are many mid-range options available to you.
Some countries in Europe are naturally cheaper than others. Lisbon and Budapest are just two examples of amazing cities that won’t cost you a fortune. The goal of travel is to not spend as little as possible, but to be smart with your money. With your budget, the idea is to have a set number in mind and then plan your trip so it fits within it.
Pick your destinations
When planning a trip to Europe for the first time, many people want to go everywhere. The problem is, Europe is a massive place so going to every destination likely won’t make much sense. Don’t get me wrong, it’s possible, but do you really want to visit 7 countries in two weeks? Yes, you could save some time by booking overnight trains, but you’ll be a wreck and won’t actually enjoy your time abroad.
Generally speaking, if you’re going to Europe for 2 weeks, you should pick 4 cities at max. Start with the cities that you’ve always wanted to see and work from there. That being said, there are many countries in Europe where you could spend a month alone without getting bored, so it’s important to research what you really want to see.
Establish a route
Now that you’ve picked out your destinations, it’s time to establish a route. For example, say you want to see London, Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Paris. A logical route would be to start in the west in Barcelona and make your way east to London via Paris and Amsterdam. By avoiding backtracking, you can maximize your time.
The above route I’ve listed is pretty standard, but don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Essentially routes are determined by geography and transportation options. As long as there’s a convenient way for you to get to your next destination, every destination is an option. There will be times when a direct route is not available, so you need to decide if the detour is worth it or not.
Book your flights and hotels
Many people spend hours searching for the best airfare, but we don’t think it’s a good use of your time. Think about it, is it worth spending 10 hours researching multiple sites just to save $100? Your time is better spent researching your trip. To search for the best prices for flights, use our search engine. We have 1,200+ partners so you’re guaranteed the lowest price. If you’re in no rush, you can always set up a price alert or browse by the whole month for the best prices.
Our hotel search is also comprehensive so you won’t have any problems finding the perfect spot to catch a good night’s sleep when you’re abroad. If the price is a concern, look for hotels that are away from the main tourist areas but still close to public transportation so you can get anywhere fast.
Don’t forget about the details
Once you have all the major things figured out, it’s time to worry about the small things. Check to see if you need a visa for any of the countries you’re visiting. While you’re investigating visas, have you checked to see if your passport is still valid?
Getting medical attention abroad can be very expensive, so make sure you have the right travel medical insurance in place. Remember, you may already have a plan from your employee benefits or your travel rewards credit cards. If you are covered, read the policies to find out exactly what you’re entitled to and purchase more insurance if you need it.
There’s also currency to worry about. Exchanging your money can cost you quite a bit in exchange fees, but you can minimizing them by reading up on tips how to save. Alternatively, you can always use your credit card. Don’t bother with traveller’s cheques, no one really accepts those anymore.
There will be many more details to worry about, so maybe it’s best to make a list of what you need to do before your plane departs. You can plan as much as you want, but don’t forget to enjoy the moment once you’ve landed in Europe.