Are you considering a first trip to Europe? Great! Europe is full of wonders and surprises, boasting some places that must be visited at least once in a lifetime.
But going to Europe as a first-time traveller can be both a blessing and a curse if you don’t plan your trip wisely. Let’s be honest – it’s a large continent covering 44 countries and more than 200 languages. The numbers sound as intimidating as they really are, but you don’t have to despair. Step by step, you’ll get where your heart takes you. Whether you crave to take a gondola through the canals of Venice or spend romantic moments in Paris, we encourage you to take a deep breath and research your options well.
You could be the next Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love, but you need to know these things first:
Buy your tickets early
One of the most common mistakes travellers make is booking late. You don’t have to plan the entire trip before leaving home, but be sure to reserve the flight well in advance. This ensures you not only peace of mind but also a seat in the place that’s going to take you to intriguing Europe. As for the flight back to America, you may want to wait until you’ve hopped the pond. That’s because things may not be going as planned, and you may be forced to spend extra days in a particular city. Or, maybe you fall in love with some European country, and a single location is not enough for your travel appetite.
This is also valid for museums or other attractions you may want to visit. It’s recommended to get your tickets well in advance to avoid crowds and ensure the venue does not reach its capacity of visitors. Thus, book all that you want to see early, and don’t forget to confirm your tickets – major European attractions often have this requirement.
Plan your trip geographically
You might be tempted to visit all of Europe’s major cities, and it’s normal to be so, but time won’t allow this unless you have infinite financial resources and plan to spend months on this continent. Therefore, consider making a list of the most preferred places, then look at how they are positioned on the map. If you can connect the dots without much hassle, there is a chance to visit them all. One route example involves starting in Spain and heading east to London, taking the Chunnel to Paris, and aiming at Italy.
Consider a second suitcase
You don’t want to spend the holiday hauling your belongings in a single suitcase, continually worrying about the fragility of your goods. So, we advise packing your items in a carry-on but bring a second one with you in case you buy more things during your trip (which you will surely do). It’s impossible to leave Italy without their emblematic limoncello or uniquely hand-crafted Italian leather or Murano glassware. And for everything to run smoothly, ensure you dispose of transportation in both the country you’re heading to and your home country. Travelling with heavy suitcases can’t be avoided when it comes to long-haul destinations, but it can be made easier. That being said, consider booking Logan airport parking before winging. Platforms like Parkos allow you to compare multiple parking options and go for the one that best matches your needs and budget. Having your own car waiting for you on your arrival in Boston will give you peace of mind.
However, you will have to think about all that in advance as a down payment might be required. So, if you look for Boston Logan airport parking, it’s recommended to know how long you’re going to be gone for the provider to set a relevant price for your parking space.
Keep seasons in mind
Europe is a vast continent covering 44 countries, so don’t expect each of these countries to have similar climates. In fact, climates can vary dramatically, from ice-cold temperatures in the north to 45 degrees Celsius in the south. Frolicking in the fields of Dutch tulips isn’t achievable in the summer as Dutch tulips grow in the spring. Or, if you crave skiing the Austrian slopes, consider booking a winter trip, not a summer one. On the other hand, if you plan to cover Italy’s capital on foot, we’re welcome to do so; the spring weather in Rome is pleasant. However, don’t do that at high noon, as no matter the season, the sun is sweltering.
Embrace the languages – all 247 of them
People in Europe speak so many languages that it might feel intimidating to even think how you’re going to get along. Obviously, it’s not a realistic option to learn all these languages, but it would be nice to master some basics in the most spoken ones. A bit of French will take you far in countries like France, Luxemburg, and Switzerland, while a bit of German is gold in Germany and Austria. Surely, if you travel to England, you will be doing just fine with your American English, although your accent might not be the most desired one. However, don’t get discouraged if you know neither French nor German. Most people in Europe know English, so you’re likely to make yourself understood wherever you go. And if not, Europeans are quite friendly and would surely find a way to understand what you’re saying.
Consider a Eurail pass
One surprising fact about Europe is that it’s connected via a long rail network, meaning that you could visit multiple countries if you consider a Eurail pass. This is made accessible to non-Europeans to make their journey more hassle-free and enjoyable. And the best part? You can choose between a set number of travel days or unlimited use of this pass based on your specific needs. You can also get a pass for specific countries if there is something that has caught your attention in particular.
Europe is full of surprises, but in order to discover them, be sure you’re serious about your trip preparations.