Planning Your First Trip to Europe

Traveling to Europe, especially for the first time, can be a daunting proposition. There are dozens of countries, and each one has its own history and attractions. So, how does one choose?

Determine a Budget

The first step is to determine how much one can spend on a European vacation. That will help a traveler decide what is and isn’t feasible. There are few things more disappointing than to lovingly plan an itinerary for a week-long vacation in Paris and then discover it’s too expensive.

Pick a Destination

Now comes the fun part: deciding where to go. One way to make such a decision is to list a bunch of destinations on one’s bucket list and see if a majority of them fall within a given country or region. Travelers may also consider activities, such as skiing or mountain-climbing.

Take Care of all Necessary Documents

European countries require visitors to have passports and getting a passport typically takes at least a month. Passports do have expiration dates, so travelers who already have one should double-check their passport to make certain it hasn’t expired. People who plan to stay in Europe for over 90 days will also need a visa.

The CDC recommends checking health advisories and being current on all needed vaccines. It’s best to get all the necessary vaccines at least a month before the trip.

Book a Flight

The plane flight to and from Europe will be the most expensive part of the trip, thus it needs to be booked before the accommodations or any rental cars. The traveler can comparison shop by visiting sites like Expedia or Skyscanner. Booking early will allow the traveler more flexibility with their dates and more opportunities to save.

Book Accommodations

Choosing and reserving hotel rooms is another item that should be done early – especially if one is traveling in the summer. It’s a good idea to look for accommodations with a local flavor like a bed-and-breakfast or renovated castle. It’s also prudent to look for accommodations that provide breakfast as part of their service, as that will leave more money for lunch and dinner. Sites like Hotels.com, Booking.com, and TripAdvisor can help the traveler comparison shop.

Investigate Transportation

One simple way to travel through Europe is to join a tour group. Europe also has railways and several discount airlines. While rental cars can help people travel between cities, they may not be necessary within the city. London, for example, has the underground Tube, and Amsterdam has lots of bike routes. 

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