Hey guys! I thought it would be fun to kick off the year by sharing my trip to Europe with you all, and giving advice and tips that I have from personal experience and research. I have been interested in traveling back to Europe ever since my trip in 2009. My parents took my sister and me across the Atlantic Ocean, where we landed in Barcelona, Spain to spend two weeks of the summer cruising through the Mediterranean Sea. We stopped in a new country just about everyday, which is one of the coolest things I have ever experienced. Drew and I are planning to do a late honeymoon in Europe, and this time we will not be going by cruise, however I am currently pretty convinced that cruising through this continent is one of the best ways to do it. I’ll update you guys on my thoughts about how to travel to Europe next year in the spring after Drew and I venture there using Air BnB and other forms of stay. As for now I’ll share with you guys what I do know about traveling to Europe, and share with you guys the photos that I was adamant about taking at 12 years old with my canon point-and-shoot camera while we explored new places. Down below I’ll list our stops, include photos, and finally I’ll share five helpful travel tips, along with books for planning and travel essentials to buy prior to leaving the states!
My 2009 Trip Itinerary:
| Spain: Barcelona | Italy: Athens, Pisa, Rome, Venice| Croatia: Dubrovnik
Greece: Athens, Santorini | France: Nice | Monaco: Monte Carlo |
Five Tips for Europe Travel:
- Plan your time of travel wisely! (Feess, page 19-22)
- There are 3 times to travel.
- Shoulder Season: Average Crowd Size. This season runs from mid-September to early November, and mid-March to mid-May. This time is nice to travel because the weather is decent and the big crowds have not yet arrived.
- High Season: Very Crowded. This season runs from mid-June to August. The summertime is nice and has comfortable temperatures, but can get hot at times, especially mid-day. Other than not being able to avoid crowds, this can still be a great time to travel as it is very beautiful. I love Europe in the summer!
- Low Season: Not Crowded. This season runs through the winter (mid-November to around early March). This is typically the cheapest time to travel to Europe – flights to Europe are most reasonable around this time of year. I have not visited Europe in the winter, but I can imagine no crowds and cheaper air fare would be nice, however the cold temperatures cold be tough.
- There are 3 times to travel.
- Consider light-weight options whenever possible. (Remember ounces add up to pounds!!)
- Travel Size toiletries are great for trips that are two weeks or less. You can buy travel size bottles and transfer your favorite shampoos, conditioners, lotions, hair products into them. You’ll have all the great products you love without bringing the full size bottle that add up in weight.
- Things to pack ONE of:
- Large Scarfs
- Toiletry Bag (products like – mascara, eyeshadow palette, foundation, blush, and some others you should only bring one of – down size your makeup bag for travel,
- Things that are okay to back TWO or THREE of:
- Dresses and Jumpers (Have you heard of these amazing creations? They are an outfit all in one item!) My suggestion: add unique accessories to change it up if you want to repeat wearing the dress or jumper during your trip.
- Lipstick and make up brushes
- Hair Accessories (a few stylish hair clips, a headband, trendy pony tail holder)
- Hot tools (Bring them if they are a travel size! A mini hair dryer and flat iron can be used for so many hair styles.)
- Short sleeve shirts/shorts/short skirts if it is a colder season, and long sleeve shirts/pants/jackets if it is a warmer season.
- Things that you should not pack more than FOUR or FIVE of:
- Underwear (these can be washed in the hotel/hostel/Air bnb shower, bath or sink. Hang them to dry and they will be ready to wear by morning! – before you say this is gross, remember that there was once a day when washers and dryers didn’t exist, and I believe in you, friend! You can rough it for a couple weeks)
- Other obvious things that would be adding to your heavy suitcase, backpack, or duffle bag.
- Make an itinerary with extra time between stops!
- Leaving more time in your travel schedule than you think you need is huge. This will be so helpful when you find you want to explore a museum for longer, have a picnic at the Eiffel Tower, enjoy some spontaneity or time to explore, or be given grace time if you take the wrong bus or get stuck in traffic.
- Another good idea is to leave one day per country (or city, if you have the time) absolutely free. Go out and find cool places, talk to the locals and ask them their favorite place to visit, go shopping, rent bikes or donkeys (depending on which country you’re in!).
- Plan Ahead for Safety Precautions.
- Pack a small travel emergency kit and don’t take it out of your day bag unless you actually need to use it. Keep a little extra cash, a list of emergency phone numbers, Band-Aids, Advil, contacts, tide-to-go stick, etc. Goal is to have what you need but also keep it light.
- Have a working phone, and it is not a bad idea to talk to your service provider and set up a plan for your phone to work in all the places you are visiting.
- Make sure your debit/credit cards are good to go in other countries – check fees and rates, and know how to freeze or cancel your card if it goes missing!
- Be sure to also contact your bank and let them know you will be in another country. You want to do this so the bank doesn’t put a hold on your card because they think someone else in another country is making purchases with it.
Books/Resources I Recommend for Planning a Trip to Europe:
***Purchase these as an ebook if you are okay with looking at it on a device. It is so helpful to have the tips right on your phone, tablet, nook, or kindle! (iPhone has iBooks, The Kindle Fire has an app so you can get the ebook on amazon for your smartphone, tablet or computer app or kindle device, and nook offers a nook app for smart phones if you have a nook device.)
- The Savvy Backpacker’s Guide to Europe on a Budget By James Feess
- Here is TheSavvyBackpacker’s Blog – this is a great resource as well.
- Fodor’s Essential Europe
- Fodor also has books for specific countries in Europe, so if you are considering spending a good amount of time in one place, let’s say France, then you can find the Fodor’s Essential France.
- Find blogger’s who travel and check out their posts from trips to Europe. I also love using instagram as a way to find things like cool hole-in-the-wall cafe’s or ice cream shops. This really can be a great resource for getting an insider’s perspective on places to visit and eat.
- Use the “Save” feature on Instagram, and create a “Collection” for your trip. This is similar to making a board on Pinterest and pinning, but no one can see on Instagram what you have saved so it is helpful if you want to keep resources but you don’t care to repost everything you are saving, or if you find things on Instagram that you haven’t seen on Pinterest.
- A crossbody tote for a day bag.
- A foundation/bb cream with SPF – I recommend Supergoop! (linked below).
- A blanket scarf – It is fashionable, but it also can double as a blanket or a pillow for plane, train, or bus rides.
- A water bottle that can keep water cold and keep hot drinks hot – S’well is a great choice (linked below).
- A travel steamer – These are so helpful for getting wrinkles out when you don’t have a dryer or wrinkle release.
- A hat – It keeps your face shielded from intense sun or keeps your head warm if the weather is cooler.
- Travel organizer(s) – Phone accessories can get so jumbled up or even lost if they aren’t organized.
- A portable phone charger – These are great for emergencies or if you just want to ensure your phone won’t die.
- A camera strap – If you are bringing a professional camera, get one of these if you do not already have one. Think of having a stranger take a photo of you and your travel buddy. This will be a little bit more safe than handing them a camera they could easily drop because you don’t have a strap on it.
- A waterproof phone/money case – This is helpful to keep your important possesions safe from damage.