Ciao, America: How to Plan a Euro Trip

I’m not taking summer school, I have yet to hear back from all the employers I sent job applications to and I’m not sure if my family is planning our annual summer vacation to Hawaii this year. To put it plainly, these next few summer months are going to pass by painstakingly slowly unless I take matters into my own hands. What I need is a trip, and I’m not talking about a trip to the movies or even a road trip to Las Vegas.

If you’re like me and you’re utterly thing-less  for the summer, then planning an adventure abroad to Europe might just be what you need. If you’re on the fence about it, just think about all the stories you’ll get to spill to your jealous stateside friends when you fly back home, or imagine the thrill that comes with sampling new exotic foods and visiting foreign landmarks.

And if you’re worried about where to start in organizing your own expedition, don’t worry. Even though I’m a sheltered person who has never left the country before, I’ve managed to do some thorough research of my own and have provided a list of components that make up what in my opinion is a good Euro trip. If you follow these guidelines, you’ll easily be able to book seats on a plane and make it out of the U.S.A. It’s up to you however, to decide where that plane will take you.

Select your destination(s):

First, decide the location and duration of your trip: Are you thinking of a one-week stay in France, or a month-long country-hopping adventure? I’d suggest researching various countries to figure out which hold the most promise for you. Try looking at their traditional foods, whether it’s a heavily populated city or an expansive countryside and definitely make note of the country’s official language. Or if you can’t seem to pick just one, visit multiple countries!

If you don’t mind cloudy weather, England is a good choice (and there’s no language barrier); if you crave delicious food like pasta and are interested in historical sites like the Trevi Fountain, Italy is for you.

Research transportation and living arrangements:

After you’ve selected your travel destination(s), it’s of the upmost importance that you do your homework so when you arrive in the terminal, you’re not scrambling to locate a convenient place to stay and the transportation you need to get there. Decide what kind of living arrangements suit you best: Opt for relatively cheap hotels within the vicinity of the city if you want to play tourist, or be daring and try out a hostel if you’re the backpacking kind of traveler. Visit tourist websites or flip through brochures to find hotel advertisements, then research more online; the hotels usually offer a taxi or bus service to and from the airport. Make your reservations at least a week in advance.

Make a day-by-day itinerary (or not):

If you want to make sure that your experience as a foreigner doesn’t go to waste, devise a schedule for each day of your stay so that you don’t veer off track. Negotiate with the other members of your crew so that everyone can have a say in what activities are planned.

Definitely investigate local restaurants for the culinary culture shock, landmarks for the sightseeing, the many photo ops, and shops for the souvenirs. With an organized schedule, you can make the most out of your trip and create memories along the way. However, if you want to be spontaneous, don’t plan anything at all and play everything by ear.

Pack all the essentials:

Obviously, the most important thing you’ll need is your international passport and identification (and boarding pass). Bring all of your identification materials because you’ll most likely need to fill out international papers upon your arrival, as well as your hotel/transportation information. Make sure to pack for the length of your stay so that you don’t run out of clean clothes, but leave some room in your suitcase for all of the miniature Eiffel Tower figurines from France and flasks of olive oil from Spain. Pack a carry-on backpack stocked with snacks and leisure materials like magazines and books (European plane rides are long) and don’t forget your camera!

Bring good company:

Traveling around the world is always more meaningful when you do it with your favorite people. Take your whole family for a relaxing getaway full of museum tours and tourist shopping, or travel with a couple close friends and get lost together.

No matter where you go or what you do, if you’re creating memories with the people you love, it’s a guarantee that you won’t return home unsatisfied.