Planning a European Getaway? Start here!
Well, I've officially come down from my vacay high and let's just say that getting back to reality was ROUGH! It seems like with all the planning and the actual vacay itself, that Europe took over my life for a good 3 months. During my trip I received tons of DM's about my tips for planning a trip to Europe, where to stay, the best apps.... ALL. THE. THINGS. Are you looking to travel to Europe soon? CONGRATS (I'm jealous)! Keep reading to see how we started planning our recent trip and tips for planning with friends or significant others.
First Things First
Where to go and for how long?
- Decide on the total time of the trip
- Each party picks 5-7 places they'd like to visit (Pinterest is my go-to for this)
- Cross reference your list and pick a starting point!
Things to Remember
- 3 - 4 days in one city is usually sufficient and you won't feel too rushed ie. you can hit 4 places MAX during a 2 week Europe trip
- Don't forget to include travel time! Even a 1 hr. flight still requires getting to the airport early, transportation from destination airport to hotel... it takes up a good chunk of the day!
- There is a lot of walking in Europe... A LOT. From my 2 week example, hitting 4 big cities may seem like a great idea but I've found after 2 my body needs a bit of a break. Think about your 3rd stop as a "breather". For us that was vegging out at the beach at the French Riviera. For you that could be wine tasting in Tuscany or going to small town in Provence, France.
The best thing about Europe is that everything is pretty close together which makes it very easy to see a lot in a short amount of time BUT don't get overly eager to SEE everything in one trip because you'll burn yourself out. I personally feel like I need 2 FULL nights in a city to really get comfortable with the area and 3 FULL days to successfully explore it!
GETTING THERE + AROUND
US to Europe
- Now's the time to use your credit card miles to get there if you have them!
- Flights are LONG (from the West Coast at least), so I would suggest business class if you can do it.
- If not, check Seatguru to see the exact details of your seat before you book it. Last year I booked a window thinking it would be great BUT there was a huge block under the seat in front of me that a) didn't allow me to put my stuff all the way under and b) stretch my feet out - the worst!
- RyanAir and EasyJet are safe - you can also fly other larger airlines but those two are typically the cheapest
- Rail Europe is a great way to search and book all the different trains that run through Europe
- Uber is available in many large cities but there aren't as many drivers as there are Taxi drivers and it can be difficult or a long wait to get a car to pick you up
- Marked Taxis are everywhere and totally safe but most require cash. Some cities also have local Taxi apps (like Uber) which allow you to request a taxi ahead of time and pay through the app!
Hotel or AIRBNB
There are SO many options when it comes to places to stay in Europe! We like to:
- Check out local Airbnb options - always be sure to check the reviews, AC situation (it's hot in the summer), stairs vs. elevators (luggage!), internet (hello, IG), and location. (see my other tips here)
- Hotels - this is when we dive into our credit card points and typically look for the best value x aesthetic for the location
- Hostels - we had the best experience staying at Generator Hostel in Barcelona and they have other locations in Europe
OTHER PREP WORK
Don't forget to:
- Download my 5 must-have apps for traveling abroad
- Back up phone!
- Search Pinterest and google for interesting things to do at your destinations plus tips for navigating that city
- Peruse Trip Advisor for excursions, restaurants, and more
- Save must-see spots and must-eat restaurants on your google maps as starred locations
- Get an International cell phone plan
- Make sure your passport doesn't expire within the next 6 months!
What to do once you're there?
I'll be adding my Europe Travel Guides below as they are created.
- 5 must-have apps for traveling abroad
- Airbnb: book accommodations and experiences abroad
- Pinterest: travel tips and guides, inspiration, and so much more (follow me)
- Rail Europe: one stop shop for navigating the rail systems in Europe
- Rome2Rio: helps plan transportation through Europe and takes into consideration the ENTIRE time it will take you to get somewhere
- Seatguru: check airplane seat details by seat number and plane type
- Trip Advisor: the yelp of Europe!