Europe is so full of amazing places and experiences that you could travel for years and still feel like you’ve missed something essential. Read steps below for detailed information about each step of planning the perfect trip to Europe!
Assemble Your Travel Documents
All countries in Europe require travelers to have a valid passport– no matter your country of origin. If you don’t have a passport or your passport has expired, it can take between 4-6 weeks to receive one from your time of application. Some countries have rush or emergency passport services; however, this service can be quite expensive so it’s best to take care of all of your documentation as far ahead of time as possible. Travelers who have a valid passport should check the expiry date before they purchase any flights as some countries can deny you entry if it expires within 6 months of when you arrive.
If you’re planning on renting a car while in Europe be sure to have a valid driver’s license. Some car rental companies also require travelers to have an international driver’s license in addition to their driver’s license from their country of origin. International driver’s licenses can be obtained through the American Auto Association (AAA) in the United States and the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) in Canada.
Most foreign nationals (American and Canadian travelers included) require a travel visa as well as a valid passport to visit Russia. Receiving a Russian traveler’s visa is a complicated process which can take weeks to complete. Be sure to plan ahead and get your documentation in order if you’re planning on visiting Russia while on your Europe trip.
What Do You Want to Travel to Europe?
Decide on the best time of year for you to travel to Europe. Several factors can help guide you in when it comes to setting a travel date. For most travelers, time and money are the biggest constraints. Planning your trip early in advance will help you find some bargains and cheaper flights to Europe. After having a thorough look at your calendar, and a look at the balance on your bank account, reevaluate your options.
Think about what you want to do during your Europe trip. Are you content spending your days wandering around museums, or do you prefer to be outdoors? Weather is a major aspect that you should consider while planning your trip to Europe. If you are willing to brace the cold winter temperatures you are sure to save a few bucks and enjoy less crowded sights. For travelers looking to soak up the sun, bear in mind that most Europeans are off for the month of August. Don’t forget that the temperatures in Europe can vary drastically and be sure to pack accordingly.
Unlike the weather, there are 3 main seasons for traveling in Europe— High, Low, and Shoulder. Each travel season has its advantages and disadvantages and will affect your experience traveling in Europe.
Travel dates are usually determined by a combination of available vacation time and budget. Usually, shorter trips require more planning than long trips.
Start Your Travel
List any events that have dates that can’t be changed. For example, maybe you’re attending a music festival while in Europe or meeting up with friends somewhere on a specific date. You’ll have to plan the rest of your travel itinerary around these events and their dates— so be sure to keep them in mind as you select a European route.
Start brainstorming what you’d like to see while in Europe. What does your ideal Europe trip look like? Are you more interested in historical sights or the best cities to party in? Would you rather spend your time in nature or in art galleries and museums? Be sure to check out some travel guides and look at some travel blogs before you write down everything you’re interested in seeing or doing.
Start Refining Your List
Now for the hard part. It’s time to start narrowing down your ideal Europe trip list. It’s often a good idea to triage your original list- 1) Places you absolutely NEED to see, 2) Places you really want to see, 3) things that would be nice but you can live without. This is just a way of refining your thinking and desires to find out what you care most about seeing while in Europe.
Start thinking about how much time you’d like to spend in each city on your itinerary. We recommend at least 3 days to see major European cities like London, Paris, and Rome. You could easily spend a week in any of these locations without getting bored. Remember there are also tons of interesting day trips from major cities in Europe.