Planning your first trip to Europe this year? How exciting! Europe is completely different to any other region of the world, and incredibly diverse with such a massive variety of cultures, food, languages, history, and more. But it can be a little overwhelming for people who are new to travel, or used to the more relaxed way of life in Southeast Asia or Central America.
The first thing to remember is that you’ll need to slow down and take your time when you’re travelling in Europe. Since most of us have dreamed of walking through the Louvre, gawking at the Colosseum, and sitting in a gondola, it can be easy to try to fit every highlight into a couple of weeks.
Here’s the thing: It’s impossible to do it all. Unless you have years to travel Europe, you’re going to need to cut down your plans. Choose your top five experiences that you absolutely must do in Europe. Maybe it’s seeing the Eiffel Tower in Paris, eating tapas in Madrid, or drinking beer in Budapest. Whatever they are, write them down and plan your European trip around them. All the in-between bits will then begin falling into place.
You’ll also need to decide how you’ll get around. There are plenty of cruise deals available (sites like Webjet) if you like the idea of easing into European travel and having all the hard work done for you. One of the great reasons to cruise? It’s all-inclusive. You’ll have all your food, entertainment, and transport all paid for before you step onboard. Plus, you’ll only need to unpack once. Winning.
Another good option? Get a rail pass. This is better value if you’re under 25, but it can still be a great way to be independent and avoid being locked into any stringent plans.
While it’s a great idea to get off the beaten track, don’t feel like you need to avoid the cliches. Places like Charles Bridge, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and Buckingham Palace are popular tourist spots for a reason- they’re amazing.
If at all possible, try to travel in the shoulder seasons. June July, August, and September are nuts in Europe, with high accommodation prices, expensive flights, full trains, and long lines. Go in spring or autumn, or check out the Christmas markets in winter when you’ll have many tourist sites to yourself.
Finally, don’t forget to take travel insurance. This is one thing you’ll be thankful for if you have a bad experience overseas. Disaster always strikes the unprepared, and the last thing you need is to get ill or have an accident while you’re uninsured. There are plenty of options for cheap travel insurance, so be sure to purchase it as soon as you book your flights.