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Planning Your First Trip to Europe

Posted by Julian Rivas on March 6, 2018
A man and a woman planning their trip to Europe using a map, a laptop and a notebook

Before you can experience an authentic Italian pizza in the heart of Venice, croissants in Paris, or gaze at some of the best architecture in Spain, you will need to establish a proper itinerary that factors in both your needs and your budget. If this is your first trip to Europe and you’re looking for a crash course on what you will need, we’ve got you covered.

Itinerary Planning / Destinations

Now that your vacation time has been approved by your boss, it’s time to choose which cities you want to visit across Europe. If you only have two weeks of vacation time to your name, choose each city wisely – even if that means visiting fewer places. Selecting cities that are reasonably close together within your route is essential, for example:

  • Rome
  • Venice
  • Barcelona
  • Paris
  • London

A common mistake many first-time travelers make is jam-packing too many cities into their trip. Visiting 5 countries and spending 2 to 3 days throughout a 2-week period is the sweet-spot that most veteran travelers suggest.

Budgeting and Money

When planning a trip to Europe, or any location for that matter, it’s essential to establish a budget as early as possible. The style of travel will not only depend on how deep your pockets are but also on what type of experience you want. Do you want to backpack and stay at hostels or would you rather stay in luxury hotels?

Depending on which cities you go to, the average daily cost will differ. If you’re planning on backpacking your way through Europe, generally the daily cost should include a night in a hostel, three meals, an attraction, a snack/beverage and transportation.

On top of your daily cost, there are a few pre-trip expenses to take into consideration:


Learning how to pack effectively in advance of your trip will be a burden off your shoulders once you’ve arrived at your destination. If you plan on staying at hostels, you will find yourself unpacking and packing your bag quite a few times. A packing strategy will save you time, frustration, and even help keep your clothes wrinkle-free.

  1. Packing Cubes & Packing Folders: A lightweight mesh box/cube that can be utilized to separate your clothes into groups to make it easier when unpacking/packing. (underwear/socks).
  2. Organizing Toiletries: It’s common to have hostel bathrooms far from your room, using a portable toiletry bag that can be hung is ideal.
  3. Light Packing: Keeping it light and packing 4 to 5 outfits that are versatile is essential.


When you travel, you don’t have to spend your nights in fancy hotels. Hostels are quite possibly the best type of accommodation for budget travelers backpacking through Europe. People may have misconceptions of hostels in Europe because they are less common in North America. The quality of hostels has increased dramatically within the last 10 years.

In a nutshell, a hostel is similar to a hotel; however, the rooms can accommodate anywhere between 2 – 40 people and often have bunk beds. In a hostel, you can only rent the bed, so if you get a room with 15 bunk beds, it’s safe to say you will be spending the night with more people.

The cost is probably the most attractive feature of a hostel. A bed will cost anywhere from $10/night to $30/night, depending if you are in Eastern or Western Europe. In addition, staying at hostels is the best way to meet a lot of interesting people from all around the world – which is great for solo travelers.


Traveling by train when touring Europe is by far the best method, especially if you make sure the cities you are visiting are close to each other. The rail network in Europe is vast and allows you to travel to even the smallest towns via train. Unlike airports, most train stations in Europe are located right in the middle of town, so you won’t have to spend time and money traveling into the city. Most travelers don’t want to waste daylight traveling to a new destination and will book night train rides instead.

In terms of the most affordable tickets possible, you are likely to find the best deals if you purchase them online because you’re cutting out the agent (who acts as a middleman and will take a portion of your purchase price for their services).

No matter the length of your trip, this post will help you stay organized as you prepare to embark on a trip that will not only provide new experiences but also give you new memories that you will never forget. Check out our 20 Travel Hacks article to help you prepare even further.


Disclaimer: This article provides general information only and does not constitute financial, legal or other professional advice. For full details, see MoneyKey's Terms of Use.

Posted in: Holiday Tips Lifestyle

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