How to Plan a Trip to Europe

planning europe tripToday, millions of travelers are using the Web to learn about destinations, find last-minute bargains, locate hotels, and chart their adventures. Travel agents can still be tremendously helpful, particularly for complex international journeys.

Decide on your destination – The thing about Europe is that with so many countries, cities and sights worth seeing, the choices can be overwhelming. Think about what your ideal vacation is and begin your research and determine your objective for your trip. After choosing a destination, travelers can use the Net to find schedules and fares for airlines, hotels, and rental cars.

Determine your budget – Determine the amount of time you have to travel. Not counting your arrival and departure days, how many days does this give you to travel? How much is it going to cost. You are going to need to budget a realistic minimum a day. Check if you need to, scale back your number of days to match your budget. This is your trip of a lifetime you need to experience it.

Get your passport in order – Make sure you have a valid passport for the whole duration of your trip. If you do not have one, ask for one on time! It may take several weeks to get one. Make a copy or two of the information page of your passport and put it in different pieces of luggage. It helps to get a new one at an Embassy or Consulate, if you lost your passport abroad. You might even want to have extra copies of your passport picture along. Always take your passport with you and keep it at a secure place.

Check if you need a visa – Every country has different requirements, so check them early on. Especially if you plan to stay longer than 90 days, you will usually need a student visa. For trips up to 90 days a simple tourist visa is enough in most cases, but if you plan to work (e.g. do an internship), you should also make sure this does not conflict with the tourist visa.

Start reading – Get yourself a good guidebook and start reading. I recommend Rick Steve’s, Lonely Planet and Let’s Go. Look to see that it has: Places that you are planning to travel to, lists of accommodation in your price range, maps detailed and clear and latest version published.

Book your airfare – You could lock in a reasonable fare early. Europe, just like the U.S., has discount airlines. A good idea is to fly into a European airport that has direct links to the center of your first city of travel. Train stations are located within many European airports. This includes Amsterdam Schiphol, Barcelona Prat, Berlin Schoenfeld, Birmingham, Brussels Nationaal, Copenhagen, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt am Main, Genève Cointrin, London (Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted), Malaga, Manchester, Munchen Strauss, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Rome Leonardo da Vinci, Stockholm, Stuttgard Echterdingen, Wein Schwechat and Zurich Kloten.

Traveling by train – If you’re planning a trip to Europe the best way to get around, is exploring by train. You may be uncertain about exploring Europe by train, simply because you don’t know what to expect and don’t understand how train travel works. Rail travel is the convenient, affordable and amazing experience. Compare the price of a railpass with regular point-to-point tickets may yield quite a revelation in how much money one can save with a pass. With a rough idea of your itinerary, you can have RailSaver choose the best pass for your trip. Even if a railpass is too expensive for your travel needs, knowing what the ticket prices are in advance will help you in preparing your budget.

Determine what kind of accommodation – Hostels, budget hotels, private rooms, dorm rooms. Are you more comfortable with a reservation or just winging it?  I definitely recommend a reservation in the high season or if you are planning on staying in a private room in a hostel.

Travel insurance – Travel insurance is a way to minimize the risks of traveling as accidents, illness, missed flights, canceled tours, lost baggage, emergency evacuation, and getting your body home if you die.

Medical insurance generally covers only medical emergencies. Before buying a special medical policy for your trip, check with your medical insurer — you might already be covered by your existing health plan.

Drivers License – You will be able to drive in Europe using your American or Canadian driving license. In Europe signs are used not words, to indicate what is allowed and what is not. For a few countries, you might want to get an international driving license.

Money – Take some cash with you. Visa and Master cards are quite popular. American Express can often be used, too. Nonetheless you will not be able to pay everything by credit card. ATM’s often charge you a fixed amount, every time you get some money. How much depends on your bank and the country. You can also think about buying traveler checks.

Packing  – Do remember that you can and will buy things along the way and most items are now available worldwide, including sanitary items for women. A bit of research into the climate you are entering will certainly determine what kind of wardrobe you need.

Don’t pack according to what you would wear at home. Remember you have to carry what you take and no one will know if you’ve worn the same thing 3 days in a row.

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