There's no doubt about it: planning a European trip is exciting.
Getting travel ready is the key to jump start your plans and breathe life to your trip.
Whether it’s your first time traveling overseas, or your tenth, the anticipation of where to go, what to see, and what to do, builds with each step of planning and preparation.
From the time that first thought of traveling to Europe makes a synapse in your brain, until you set foot on European soil, the goal of getting travel ready domi-nates your focus and becomes a friendly driving force.
There are many ways you can be successful when planning your trip to Europe.
Some are simple and relatively free of anxiety: make a few phone calls, visit a couple of online booking sites, and you’re done.
Think. Book. Go.
But if I was given to clichés, this is the time to consider the old adage:
The pleasure of what you do is directly proportionate to the amount of effort you put into it.
If you do little or no research and advance planning for your European trip, you'll arrive at your destination and immediately become confused, frustrated, and ill-equipped for the people, places, and culture you’ve thrown yourself into.
You won’t have a good time.
You won’t enjoy your trip.
A better way to get travel ready is to research your destination and learn as much as you can about its people, history, and culture, as you immerse yourself in the process of planning your vacation.
This will guarantee the adventure you're about to embark on will be-come a living memorable event.
There are simple steps to help.
With just a bit of time and some focused reading and research, your knowledge will begin to build.
Your starting point is to choose a couple of top-shelf Europe guide books, along with an equal number of travel websites offering current, practical information on the places you plan to visit.
Use these to gain overview information about your destination and help you choose the things to see and do, while there.
Personalize the general knowledge you gain by checking with friends - and friends of friends - who’ve already traveled to your destination and can personally vouch for experiences of interest and value.
Add these recommendations [which you may or may not follow] to fill out the information and options you find online or in guidebooks. Often, these first-hand insights can add significantly to your evolving travel plan.
A good use of social media is previous travelers' personal recommendations of what to do and see when traveling. Just be sure to 'qualify' what your 'social friends' suggest, by doing your own research and gathering your own background information.
Next, create a realistic travel budget, so you know where your money will go - and most importantly - that it won’t run out before your trip is done.
Make a plan for your travel funds, so you'll know you're getting good value for what you pay.
Estimate what your expenses will be - not only major costs like tours, airfares, and hotels, but daily ex-penses, like entrance fees, meals, entertainment, and local transportation.
A well thought out travel budget will help you keep expenditures to a minimum, while getting the maximum use from your travel dollars.
Develop a workable on-the-ground itinerary with local options to visit, sites and attractions, anticipated crowds and wait times, and - above all - time to smell the roses.
Plot out where you'll go, how you'll get there, and how long you'll stay.
Read up on cities and towns, local events, and historical influences that make Europe such a cultural attraction.
Research the museums and places of major interest to determine which are really important to visit, and which you can skip. You cannot see them all.
Learn about the architecture, the antiquities, and the festivals that draw visitors from throughout the world to share the European experience.
No matter how many times you travel abroad, you learn new ways to save money, reduce hassle, and make better use of your time.
Your ultimate goal for planning a trip to Europe is to make sure you have the best possible time at your destination.
Being prepared: choosing the most important things to see and do, knowing how and where you’ll spend your time, keeping your costs under control - will all help you accomplish your goal.
The list of tasks for getting travel ready is impressive. If you’re not a 'list' person, you need to become one.
European travel planning is all about details - way too many important ones to remember. The one thing you forget to do, will be the most important.
Make a checklist of the major things to do:
These are just some of the things you need to handle when getting travel ready.
The minor details – all the things we cover on this site – could fill a book.
Know that when you're planning a European trip, getting travel ready is almost as much fun as the trip itself.
It’s one of the times in your life you can plot your own course, focus on what you want to do, and create your own success.
European travel planning is personal creativity at its best.
And it's attention to detail - on steroids.
Seasoned travelers know the more they learn about the places they plan to visit before they travel, the more they’ll enjoy those places when they get there.
By increasing your knowledge before traveling, you'll decrease the potential for stress and anxiety once you're there.
Travel creates its own intensity. Done properly, it becomes a major life event. You go for the experience - you come home with the memories.
There's no one thing that will have greater impact on your trip than taking the time to research and prepare yourself for your experience in Europe.
There's simply no substitute for getting travel ready.
For more help and ideas on getting travel ready, check the following articles:
Does your Travel Attitude increase your travel benefits?
Build A Travel Budget - You'll spend less, save more, and not run out of money.
When Planning a Trip to Europe don’t forget the most important part of your travel plan.
Create A Travel Itinerary and bring your trip to life.
Your Europe Travel Plan can help you structure your time and save time.
Budgeting For Travel helps you keep your traveling expenses in line.
Each overseas trip has a character all its own. And each trip you take will change your character.
You’ll come home with knowledge, respect, and perhaps a bit of awe for the places you’ve been and the people you’ve met.
More importantly, you'll know a little more about yourself.
When You Know Rick Steves, You Know Europe
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