Guide to planning a European trip

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when planning an overseas trip. As it gets colder here, a European summer seems more appealing than ever, so now may be the perfect time to cross your dream Euro trip off your wish list. Here are eight easy steps to help simplify the booking process for your next European getaway.

1. Plan a budget
It’s best to set yourself a realistic budget as early on in the planning process as you can. Some European countries such as Switzerland, Iceland and France are far more expensive when compared to countries such as Hungary, Poland and Greece. A budget will help you figure out where you can afford to go and what you can afford to do. There’s no point flying into London, then realising you can’t afford a bed for the night.

2. Organise your documentation
There’s no worse feeling than realising your passport has expired the day before an international flight. If you need to renew your passport or have any passport-related queries, visit the Australian Passport Office. Remember that some countries require your passport to be valid for at least another six months and that the process of renewing a passport can be extensive and time consuming, so we recommend you start early.

Get the paperwork out of the way early:

  • Register your trip with Smartraveller.
  • Find out which countries will require you to have a visa and begin the application process.  
  • Check to see that your IDs, such as your driver’s licence, will be valid for the entirety of your trip

3. Select your destination
Smarter Travel suggests choosing a bucket list destination and planning your trip around it. What have you always wanted to do that fits into your budget and timeframe? Make sure the season and weather suit your dreams and budget, and plan a rough itinerary around these factors. Research what you’d want to do and see, and work out how long you’d like to spend in each place – with financial considerations in mind.

4. Book your flights
This may be the most expensive part of your trip and a real shock to the bank account. But if you’re smart about where to look you could save yourself a small fortune. An app called Hopper suggests the best and worst times to buy flights by predicting when costs will rise and fall. Searching for flights on Google Flights takes out the middle man and can show you the same flights for cheaper than they appear on other sites. Although some travel experts say it doesn’t matter, it may still pay to search for flights in an ‘incognito window’. This will ignore your search history so sites can’t hike up the price of your tickets in response to your interest.

5. Plan your transport between cities
Enter your desired dates and destinations on a website called Omio to find out how much it will cost to travel between cities by train, bus or plane.

6. Book your accommodation
Don’t just look at the first hotel booking site you come across and be done with it. Do your research. Airbnb, Hostelworld and homestay options can offer affordable and fun alternatives to big-name hotels. If you do decide to book hotel-style accommodation, make sure you look at a range of different aggregators and also directly with the hotels in which you’re interested – you’ll find they don’t all offer the same price for the same room. Sometimes calling a hotel directly can give you the best room rate.

7. Insurance
If you choose to get travel insurance, it’s best to purchase it after you’ve purchased your flights or accommodation. This way you’ll have a better idea of the value of the trip itself. If you have health insurance, check your policy to find out if you’re covered overseas. If you’re not covered, you may want to look into which emergency health cover is best for you while abroad. As always, research the companies and policies with whom you’re considering purchasing insurance.

8. Pack
Avoid a last-minute scramble (that often results in forgotten essentials) and list as early as you can all the clothes and belongings you think you’ll need on your getaway. Check out our packing tips for simpler travel, packing secrets that will save you money and 10 things to always carry on to help you with the packing process.

Do you have any tips for planning a holiday? Why not share them with our members? 

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Written by Liv Gardiner

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