For the duration of my last semester of college, graduation was looming over my head. I wasn’t sure what to expect, as some big changes were coming my way. As a December graduate, I would be living at home for at least a semester (after 4 years on my own!), while the rest of my friends continued to party on in various college towns. Living with my parents wasn’t the worst thing that could happen, but I figured I needed there to be a light at the end of that tunnel (a really bright light to make the whole experience much less stressful).
So I came up with the perfect solution: PLAN A EURO TRIP.
Where to Start
To be honest, I did the majority of the planning for this Eurotrip on my own. I researched flights to Europe, hostels, routes to take, tours to take, where to go, and what to do (for as little as possible). I did have a large variety of resources. For starters, my mom is a travel agent, and everyone who works for her was more than kind while assisting me. They even suggested I help other students plan trips, for a small fee (so if this interests you, please reach out to me.)
My friends and I wanted to keep this trip very low-budget, with the biggest expense being flights to and from Europe, and truth be told, booking these tickets was our very last step.
My Step-by-Step Eurotrip Planning Process:
- Make a list of all the places you want to go. Once this list is made, contact a travel specialist to see which city is the cheapest to fly into (or do some research on your own, like me, because what my mom told me didn’t end up being the case for us). From there, plan out your trip city by city. Don’t worry about how many days in each place yet.
- Make a spreadsheet to calculate your costs (or contact me, I can put one together for you and do the research for you.)
- Once you have a city by city list, check to make sure there is either a Eurorail train, bus, or inexpensive airline fight from one city to the next. Use your costs spreadsheet to figure out the most inexpensive option (also take a look at times of these transportation methods and which is the most convenient for your plans.)
- Make lists of each of the things you want to do in each city. This will help you get an idea of how long you want to be in each city. (I provide my customers with a template to fill out, based on this, I help them figure out how long they should be in one place. I also let them know if they are missing anything crucial, or any tips I have accumulated through my travels.) Include tours, sights, parks, shopping, nightlife, restaurants, and any day trips you may want to take!
- Plan out how many days you will spend in each place.
- Look into hostels. Include potential hostels in your spreadsheet so that you can compare. (I will share with you, city by city, what hostels I stayed at, considered, or have heard good reviews about.) Don’t rule out hotels because often times a hotel will be just as inexpensive as a hostel.
- Converse with your co-travelers. Make sure everybody is happy with the plans you have set.
- Make a day-by-day agenda, including travel from city to city, allowing time for checking in and out, and other time to just explore. This doesn’t have to be in an exact order, but at least bunching together what you want to do every day. (My clients have me do this for them. I look at everything making sure enough time is allotted. Since my services come with a complimentary team of travel agents, I am able to let you know if I think you can fit more or less in one day.)
- Purchase your transcontinental (across the ocean) ticket.
- Book everything else, including hostels, train tickets (they go on sale approximately 3 months prior to the start of the season you are traveling in), and flights within Europe. If you have tours you plan on taking, book these in advance too.
Do Things Your Way
Just FYI, I did not do step 9 and 10, in order. Personally, I actually booked my ticket to Europe somewhere between step 7 and 8. I found an amazing deal on StudentUniverse and had to take advantage of it. Since, I knew I would be flying back from Europe via a ticket I would purchase through frequent flier miles. Once I had planned where and when I would be ending my trip, I booked my return ticket. Do what works best for you!
The number one thing I need to do is find cheap eats in the places I am visiting. I waste so much money on bad food while traveling. I am going to really do my research for my next european trip!!
Definetly something I need to plan for my trip this summer as well! Pinterest is a great tool when searching 🙂
I really like your approach to planning, and I wish I was that organised!! A particularly good idea to put together a spreadsheet of likely costs and budget properly.
It really helps me avoid encountering surprises charges I wasn’t expecting!
Wow, you are so organised!! I usually only get as far as researching places I want to eat and that’s about it! I do sometimes have spreadsheets but they only last a few days before I get bored of them. I’ve been travelling for 8 months so far and still haven’t planned out a budget! :S
I suggest leaving space in the itinerary for serendipity and downtime. I tend to over-plan and am trying to reform myself. Sometimes, you want to give yourself time to just chill in a cafe or make a side trip to that weird museum that someone told you about. I did that on a trip to Madrid and it was really fun
These are great tips! The last time I was in Europe, we took Eurail night trains to limit the time spent in and costs of hotels/hostels. This time around, I’d like to combine budget-friendly with a little more comfort. Lots of good things to think about here! Thanks!
Glad I could be of service! I wasn’t able to find night trains because my distances were so short, but in the future will keep that in mind!
Ahh, you’re so organised!! I never get anywhere near this planned out when I travel, but I do love to just go with the flow and get lost when I’m in a new city and see where I end up. But as I result I have lots of ‘next time I go I’ll see’ lists… whoops!
Well those lists are just another reason to keep traveling 🙂
Love it! I’m OBSESSED with Excel and planning down to the last detail haha. My co-traveler (aka husband) never does any planning and never knows where we’re going or what we’re doing until I send him the finished spreadsheet/itinerary lol but it works for us because he never complains and just goes with whatever!
Thats awesome that he is so willing to let you do that! My friends I travel with usually provide me with a list of what they want to see and I work it into our schedule 🙂
Awesome advice, since I live in Europe its a tad bit different for me, but I guess planning a trip is the same for every destination!
Yes it is interchangeable no matter where you are traveling internationally!
This is a great list. You are a lot more organised than me! I try to book hostels in advance in Europe, the best ones seem to book up fast!
I noticed that even while booking, rooms would disappear within seconds.
This is such a great guide ! It will come in very useful when planning 🙂