Europe is home to some of the most popular destinations for travelers. This is because the continent is extremely diverse and culturally rich as each country will provide amazing places and experiences to explore. There is no denying that traveling across Europe can be quite a euphoric venture and you may have it on your bucket list. Before you can experience the elegance of Paris, the charm of Prague or the architectural heritage of Vienna, an important checklist stands between you and your European vacation. The logistics involved in planning a trip to Europe may seem overwhelming therefore timely preparation is vital for a successful trip that lives up to your expectations. You need to do an absolute job in creating an itinerary that tackles the mundane tasks related to travel for a smooth and worry-free vacation. Be sure to read on for tips on how to prepare for your Europe trip.
Get your Travel Documents in Order
If you’re coming from Costa Rica it will take you between 7-10 working days from the day of appointment and successful submission to get your passport from the Consulate. Already have a passport? Check its expiration date before purchasing any flights. You wouldn’t want to find out your passport has expired while you’re in line at the airport check-in. Keep in mind that some countries require your passport to be valid for six months beyond your trip date. If you plan to rent a car during your trip to Europe ensure you have a valid driver’s license. Some rental companies also require travelers to have an international driver’s license from their country of origin. In this case, you should visit the Automovil club de Costa Rica to expedite this acquisition. Most foreign nationals require a travel visa to visit some European countries like Russia. This can be a complicated process that can take weeks even after approval, so start early.
Budget Early for your Trip
You need to establish a budget as soon as possible even before making other itinerary decisions such as destinations or travel dates. You may already have a wish list of popular destinations but you should also consider some cheap countries to visit in Western Europe such as Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. There are ways to travel on a budget such as planning shorter trips, arranging your trip in the off-season and picking budget accommodations. For instance, London is an expensive city but many travel companies and airlines offer affordable vacation packages to the city. Take a look at Omio, a search and booking platform for trains, buses, and flights to find cheap flights to Europe. You can start saving and setting your budget early on to avoid the price of flights escalating.
Make your Itinerary Plans
Now that you have a rough idea of how much you can spend, what does your ideal Europe trip look like? Are you most interested in the best cities to party in or would you rather visit art galleries, museums and historical sights? Check out some travel guides and blogs then note down everything you’re interested in doing. Another strategy is to pick a particular site that’s on your must-see travel list then plan your vacation around it. Also you should visit countries’ tourism websites and search for seasonal events like festivals or local holidays which you may want to take part in or not if you’re agoraphobic. Another important thing is to check the weather before deciding on your destination. You should also consider alternative ways to travel like taking a cruise. If you’d want to avoid the work of creating your own itinerary you may book group tours with companies such as Trafalgar, Intrepid Travels or G Adventures.
Research and Book your Flight to Europe
As airfare may be the most expensive part of your trip, you’ll want to book it before anything else. This will allow you to save money. You can also check out Omio’s guide for finding cheap flights to Europe. Set up fare alerts so you’ll be notified when the price of your flight drops. Consider purchasing a flight from a discount airline within Europe back to your arrival city for your return flight to North America. This is cheaper than purchasing 2 one-way tickets to and from different European cities. You can also spice up your trip with a layover in a different European country. Some airlines have programs that allow passengers flying elsewhere in Europe to take free stopovers for up to seven nights.
Consider Getting a Travel Insurance
This important tip when planning your Europe trip can be overlooked. There are various kinds of travel insurance: flight cancellation, medical insurance, trip cancellation etc. The best time to buy insurance is right after you put down the major deposits on your trip such as airfare and accommodation. Many airlines or travel providers sell insurance that you can purchase along with your flight or tour package. Remember to read the fine print in your policy and compare it with other travel insurance policies before making a purchase. Check your medical insurance to see if you’re covered overseas. If not, you may want to purchase supplemental medical insurance to cover situations like the cost of transportation back home for emergency care.
Book your Accommodations
Just like the other plans on your trip itinerary, the earlier you make arrangements the better. Do a bit of research and you could discover some exciting lodging options, from cheap hostels to luxurious hotels. Below are some of the options you should consider:
Hotels: As with airfare, you should shop around on multiple hotel sites to ensure you’re getting the best deal. Read reviews from past guests to see their experiences. Booking.com, TripAdvisor and Hotels.com are a few good places to start.
AirBnB: This is very popular in Europe because of the comfort they provide. You can find all sorts of lodgings there, from a single room to a whole house!
Luxury Hostels: There are plenty of luxury hostels throughout Europe that will provide you with hotel-like comfort for a budget price.
Couchsurfing: If you’re travelling backpacker style and you don’t mind putting in a bit more effort to find cheap accommodation this is for you. You’ll get to interact with the locals and sleep for free.
Book Transportation and Day Tours on your Europe Trip Route
You can do this by finding out how the locals get around. Using Omio, you can compare the cost and travel time of buses, trains and flights. You won’t need a car in places like bike-friendly Amsterdam or London with the convenient underground tube.
You should consider a car rental if you’re travelling to locales that can’t be reached by rail or plane. To commute between cities or countries, examine your rail options and budget airlines in comparison to routes and prices offered by European discount airlines such as EasyJet, RyanAir and Eurowings.
Travelling by bus is by far the cheapest way to travel in Europe. This can be a fun way to travel since you’ll have amenities such as WiFi and of course, extra leg room!
Ridesharing, the modern version of hitchhiking is an easy, safe and cheap way to travel across Europe. BlaBlaCar is the most trusted rideshare company in Europe aside from being so cheap.
Pack for your Trip
After going through your checklist and travel itineraries, you now need to pack. This is a very essential step as it requires different items. So, what should you pack for your Europe trip?
Considering that Parisians are more stylish than the typical North American tourist, take a look at the local fashion. People dress well in Europe. You can skim through Instagram pictures from your destination and see what people are wearing. Pack light and consider a few essentials such as t-shirts and jeans that can be layered. Always include a packable raincoat or travel umbrella in your suitcase.
You can use cube cells that’ll keep your items organized. Make sure you pack liquids into under 100ml bottles to allow for checked-in baggage. Get comfort items such as a neck rest, earplugs and an eye mask for ease during those long transits.
Handling your Money in Europe
Think about how you’ll be carrying your money safely. Believe it or not, pickpocketing schemes are common in Europe. Consider the following tips for traveling Europe:
Credit Cards: avoid withdrawing your cash using credit cards as it can be quite expensive.
Multi-Cash Currency Card: This is a cheap and easy way to handle your money while in Europe. Simply preload it with the local currency of your destination and use it like a normal debit card with no exchange or transaction fees.
Airport Money Exchanges: Exchange your money before leaving and keep an eye out for a good exchange rate while traveling. While you’re looking to get the most out of your Europe trip, remember to plan early and follow these awesome tips.