How to Plan a European Trip Itinerary
Are you thinking of traveling to Europe? Not sure how to start planning your trip? There are a lot of factors that come into play when planning a European vacation, one of the most important being your trip itinerary. Once you have an itinerary, you can then start looking into accommodations, thinking about your travel clothes, fine-tuning travel arrangements, among other considerations.
When planning your European trip itinerary, you’ll first need to consider when you’ll be able to go, for how long, and approximately what type of budget you’ll have to work with. Once you know when you’ll be able to leave for Europe, the duration of your trip and your budget, you can then start working on an actual European itinerary. Although it takes time and effort to put together a trip itinerary, it is well worth it. Your trip will be much more efficient and stress-free.
Picking Your Destinations
Where Would You Like to Go?
Once you know how many travel days you have to work with, you can then decide whether you’d like to visit a country or region, or if you prefer, you can decide which major cities you’d like to visit. Keep in mind that the first and last day of your trip will automatically be travel days. Also, your first day there is really only a half day at best, since you’ll need to rest and recover from jet lag.
You could decide to focus on a single country, such as Spain or Germany, or you could pick a region, such as combining southern Germany with Austria, southern France with northern Spain, Austria with northern Italy, or Belgium, Luxembourg and The Netherlands. If you’ve decided to visit a relatively small area, you can choose to use a home-based approach to your trip; that is, you can fly into a major city and use it as a home base for your entire trip, or you can fly into a major city, stay there for a few days, and then move on to what will be your home base for most of your trip. The idea behind the home-based approach is that you’ll be doing a lot of day trips but not having to pack and move your luggage nearly as often. There’s no wrong or right approach – it all depends on what you want to see and do during your vacation.
Another possibility is to select the major cities that you’d like to see; for example, London, Paris, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Venice. At this point, you are still brainstorming, but it’s important to write things down so you can fine tune your plans as you go along. It’s important to do this even if you’re not planning on moving around a lot; that is, you plan on using the home-based approach.
Start with your dream itinerary, then write down how many days you’d like to stay in each city, town or region. Once you’ve done this, you can start looking at other factors to help you finalize your itinerary.
Here is the Map of Europe :
Too Hot or Too Cold??
Do you prefer cooler weather, or are you someone who doesn’t mind warm weather? It’s important that you do a bit of research on average temperatures during the time of year that you’re going to be traveling to your selected country, region, or cities.
Here’s an example of how to plan your itinerary if you prefer to avoid warmer temperatures. Let’s say that you’ve decided to travel to Italy, or you’d like to see Spain and France. If you’re traveling in the spring/late spring, then start in southern Italy and work your way north; for example, fly into Naples and fly out of Milan. You could also start in Rome, in central Italy, and work your way north. For Spain and France, you could fly into either Madrid or Malaga, and work your way north to Barcelona and then into France. You could then fly out of either Marseilles or Nice.
If you’re visiting major cities in various parts of Europe, the same principle would apply; that is, work your way up from cities in southern Europe to the more northerly destinations. For example; if you’d like to visit Paris, Rome and Munich in the late spring, then you’d start in Rome, go to Munich, and then save Paris for last.
Keeping average temperatures in mind will not only help you plan your itinerary – it will also help you plan your activities and travel wardrobe.
Travel Itinerary & Journal
Some travelers may prefer to document their itinerary in a travel journal. Keep notes about your trip and any information that you may want to pass on to friends and family, such as names of restaurants or accommodations or what to stay away from. This travel journal will also be a great souvenir of your trip and can later serve as a starting point for writing travel articles.
Trains, Planes, Boats and Automobiles
Choosing your flights to and from Europe are crucial to your trip planning. If you plan on only visiting a particular area, you could fly in and out of the same city. An example of this would be if you plan on visiting southern Bavaria in Germany. In this case, you could fly in and out of Munich. Another example would be if you’re planning on visiting the Cote d’Azur area of southern France. In this case, you could fly in and out of Nice.
However, if you’re planning on visiting several areas within the same country or visiting more than one country, you’ll save both time and money if you fly into one city and out of another. You won’t have to budget time and money to travel back to your first destination.
Another critical factor is transportation between destinations in Europe. If you’re planning on visiting major urban areas in several countries, you can either look into train travel or low-cost domestic flights. Keep in mind that for both of these scenarios you’ll want to be traveling light. Depending on the distance between major cities, you could also consider bus travel, but keep in mind that buses will be slower than trains or flights, so you’ll have to budget more time.
You can also consider traveling by boat from one destination to another. For example, if you want to travel from southern to northern Italy, you could take a boat from Naples to Livorno. There are a number of port cities on the Mediterranean. Another possibility is taking a river cruise; for example, taking a boat from Budapest to Vienna along the Danube. Part of the fun is sometimes including different types of transportation during your trip.
Basically, you need to consider how much time it will take to travel from one destination to another. If the journey is fairly long, you could consider a night train (or other mode of transport). If you’re going to be renting a vehicle, then try to estimate travel times between destinations and plan for breaks and possibly a quick stop along the way to take in the scenery.
When you know the approximate travel times between destinations, you can start fine tuning your itinerary. If at all possible, don’t have more than one overnight stay, and try not to have too many two-night stays. Schedule at least one longer stay somewhere so that you’ll feel that you’ve had a chance to linger.
What to See and Do
There’s definitely no shortage of museums, cathedrals, churches and castles in Europe. You may have a few that are on your must-see list, and that’s fine. You’ll be wise to pick and choose, though, as you really don’t want to overdo it early on in your trip. You’ll need a break from museums and churches at some point during your trip. You don’t want to arrive at one of your destinations and no longer feel like visiting something you’ve always wanted to see because you feel that you’ve already seen enough museums or cathedrals.
As you build your itinerary, write down what you’d like to see and do at each destination, but don’t over schedule. Make sure that the attractions that you’d like to visit will be open on the days you’ve planned. Most museums are closed one day a week.
It’s also important to schedule a few days during your vacation where you can really relax and not have anything scheduled. This will allow you to rest and feel recharged for the remainder of your trip.
Your Itinerary & Security
Your finalized itinerary will include your travel dates, destinations, and number of nights at each destination. It should also include addresses and contact information for your accommodations, as well as notes regarding possible places to visit and/or possible day trips.
Once you have finalized your itinerary, print off a few copies. Make sure everyone who will be traveling with you has a copy. If you’re planning on bringing your laptop, make sure your itinerary is saved on your computer or e-mail a copy to yourself. If you don’t have your computer, you can visit an Internet cafe and access your e-mail. You could also save your itinerary as an e-pub and put it on an e-reader. All of these options allow you to have a back-up in place.
Remember to leave a copy of your itinerary with a friend or family member who will not be traveling with you. This will ensure that someone outside the group has a copy and knows where the group can be reached.
Documents and Personal Items – Carry On Purses and Bags
Choose one of these carry-on bags or purses to keep personal items secure during your trip. You may want to keep a copy of your itinerary in your carry on, in addition to either on your person or with one of your traveling companions.
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