My husband and I are gearing up for our summer Euro trip. We are thrilled to be backpacking throughout Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, France and Great Britain during the month of June. Some of you have emailed and asked me for information on how we are planning our trip. I shall tell you. Get ready to take notes, my friends. It's about to get epic.
1) Talk to Europeans //
Our friends have been unbelievably helpful. Whether they are native Europeans or have just traveled a whole lot, talking to them and hearing about their experiences and recommendations has been ridiculously valuable. Ale from Italy. Oliver, Sebastian, Andrew and Carrie from Germany. Nabihah and Rebekah from England. Charles, Alice and Jonathan from France. In fact, I'm sure if I've chatted with you in the past 3 months, we have discussed this Euro trip. I have been asking everyone and their mom for advice, travel tips, destination must-sees and more. To all of you who have been so gracious to share, THANK YOU. You are making our trip legit.
2) Read //
My gorgeous friend Allie sent me this book in the mail, and I am forever indebted to her for this priceless tool. Europe Through the Backdoor by Rick Steves is the BEST travel guidebook. It's everything you would want; real recommendations (he unapologetically tells you places to skip, like Lichtenstein), gives tons of advice, provides packing lists and sample itineraries, etc. It's amazing. And so helpful for someone who wants to experience the REAL Europe, not just American hotels and food in a foreign city. While I don't foresee eating clotted cream and blood sausage anytime soon, I would like the option... You can check out his website, too.
3) Share GoogleDocs and Excel Spreadsheets //
I'm going to be honest with you. I'm married to an engineer who speaks multiple languages, the most prominent being excel shortcuts. In the interest of building our bond of communication, I have had to learn the language of Excel. We share a Googledoc (with tons of Excel worksheet tabs) that help us stay on the same page while we brainstorm/plan. This is where we did the initial grunt work, manually inputting our dates, times of travel, cities for each day, cost per hostel, etc. As the plan has solidified (i.e. we decided on which citiy we would be in on which day), we have begun to move everything over to the below travel app.
4) Get Hap-APP-y //
There are a zillion travel apps out there, and it can be overwhelming at first, but I would recommend using TripIt to organize your travel. I used this in my past life when I traveled with Chick-fil-A and it was so helpful. TripIt is an app that organizes your itinerary and houses all the travel info you need when you walk into the airport, the train station, the rental car place, the hotel or hostel, etc. Stuff like confirmation numbers (that you always lose and frantically look for in your gmail account last minute) and reservations are at your finger tips in no time at all. I'm all for simplifying. How did people live without apps 20 years ago? Generation Y soooo has it made.
5) Get An ISIC Card //
This was a happy accident. Apparently somewhere in the world I am still considered a youth. THANK GOD. We applied for this ISIC student identification card because they are internationally recognized and give you travel deals in every country. Stevie is technically still a student (for another month, wahoo!) and I am, believe if or not, still a youth! Score. They also have an office that will help you book flights, hostels/hotels, rental cars and rail passes for the discounted student prices. We will take your discount, thank you.
6) Use Pinterest //
My Euro Trip Pinterest Board has honestly been so helpful. I pin everything I want to see while we're abroad. Cities, restaurants, castles, hostels and of course, planning/packing how-tos. Its also a great source for getting excited and inspired when the planning hum-drums come along. I'm gonna be honest with you: planning a trip of this proportion is no easy task. Sometimes it helps me to flip through photos of the Italian countryside to get over the frustration of the lack of English on the German railway site (why is everything in military time? And IN GERMAN?!!) Plus, Pinterest is just really really fun. So there.
I hope this information helps. Our trip is itinerary is shaping up and we ship out in (eek!) 33 days! Have you taken a backpacking Euro trip before? Any advice for the wanderers?