So you’re looking to experience the extensive history and beautiful views Europe has to offer, but where do you even begin? Travelling through Europe appeals to so many people and for good reason. It’s easy to see multiple countries in a short period of time because of the ease of transportation and the close proximity. It’s just very hard to start planning, where do you even begin? Hopefully after reading this, it will inspire you to finally arrange that dream trip!
#1: HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU HAVE?
Before you even figure out where you want to go, you need to assess how much time you’ll be able to spend abroad. Do you have a job that will only allow 2 weeks? Or do you have no commitments and can spend a few months? I know a lot of people that only have a couple weeks and try to shove as many countries in to try and see everything, but I can tell you from experience, unless you plan on not sleeping this is not a great way to do this. You feel way too rushed, and if you end up really liking one city you can’t just stay for a few more days because you’ve already committed to being on the move.
TIP: While exploring larger cities such as Paris, London, and Rome, you’ll need a lot more time than places like Venice and Nice. Don’t try to rush yourself through a city, the last thing you want is to leave and feel like you didn’t see as much of what you wanted.
#2: WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU GOING?!
Which countries appeal to you the most? Make a list, compare, and take a look at a map of Europe. What are your top 3, top 5, top 10 cities you want to visit? Which countries are close together? Which ones will you have to fly to? Have you always wanted to drink beer in Munich? Or go up the Eiffel tower? Or Eat a waffle in Belgium? Or bathe in Budapest? Or all of the above?
#3: WHAT’S YOUR BUDGET?
You now have an idea of where you want to go, what you want to see, and how long you have to do that. Now it’s time to figure out how much you are willing to fork out for this trip. This will force you to narrow down your list of places, especially if you’ve chosen to stay for a shorter period of time. If you wanted to visit 10 countries but you only have 3 weeks and $1500, it’s likely that’s not possible. So to the best of your abilities, get a rough number you’re willing to spend (including flight).
TIP: I travelled to 10 countries, over the span of 2 months, with a budget of $3,000. I was budget travelling, so if you’re looking to make your trip a luxury experience, be sure to plan for a lot more spending money than that!
#4: UP, UP, AND AWAY!
Before any planning happens, I ALWAYS book my flight. I can plan 7 trips in full detail but until I actually buy the plane ticket, none of that is even possible. You’ve narrowed down which countries/cities you want to visit, now is the time to figure out which country will be best to fly in and out of. Or if you would like to arrive in one country, end up somewhere, and fly out from there. I flew into Rome and planned my travels in a giant circle so I ended up back in Rome after the 2 months to depart home. Below is the route I made for myself.
#5: RESEARCH UNTIL YOU CAN’T RESEARCH ANYMORE
The flight is booked, you have a budget, you know where you want to go, time to plan and book and plan some more! Which countries are close enough to bus to and which do you need to fly to? Is it cheaper to stay in a hostel or an Airbnb? Which attractions do you need to book in advance to be sure you get in? Which cities have free walking tours? What type of luggage will you need? Do you need different currencies for each country? Do you need a visa for entry to any of these countries? You need to ask yourself all of these questions so you are well prepared for the hustle and bustle of Europe. Another great thing to do is talk to your friends or family that have already been to the countries you’re visiting and ask them any outstanding questions. They will know best what to expect and give you a few tips.
If you’re looking for some very helpful websites, below I will list some I was on religiously to help me through the madness of booking my trip!
Airbnb – Put in how many nights/people and split the fee easily among yourselves
Hostelworld – Great to see the top hostels in each city (but be sure to go directly to the hostels website to book as Hostelworld charges a small fee while booking from their website)
Couchsurfing – Stay for free in a locals home in exchange for experiencing the city with someone who lives there and making new friends
Sandemans Tours – Free walking tours of multiple different cities with a knowledgeable guide and small group