By in Travel

How to Plan a European Vacation

In 2 weeks I will be turning 30, and in celebration I will be spending 15 days in London and Paris with my boyfriend and 2 of our good friends. Travelling is something I have always done a lot of, so I've found myself the unofficial itinerary-maker and planner for this particular adventure. That suits me just fine! Here are the steps I've taken to make sure we all make it there and back in one piece, fed, happy and with a few bucks to spare:

1. BUDGET YOUR VACATION

I'm not talking about writing up a flippant budget the day before you fly out. I'm talking about drawing up a real cost analysis a year ahead of time, so that you know exactly how much money you need to put away each month to make it work. What's this include? Flights, car rentals, train tickets, cab rides, accommodation, event tickets, tours, daily food and a daily "extra" allowance. All of those things will give you a sense of how much this vacation will REALLY cost, not just how much the flight and hotel will set you back.

2. PUT THAT MONEY AWAY!

Fortunately, seeing the big number on your initial budget will probably inspire you to save your money for the big event rather than blowing it on unnecessary stuff ahead of time. Right?

3. CHOOSE YOUR ATTRACTIONS

For me, it's touring the Tower of London, participating in the West End Ghost Walk, visiting the Louvre and Versailles, and eating at Jamie Oliver's restaurant. Oh, and eating all the curry I can stuff into myself before heading home! Spread these attractions and activities out so that they can fit safely inside your daily budget.

4. BOOK TRANSPORTATION AHEAD OF TIME

I love the train system, but it's not cheap - especially when you need to buy a ticket the day of travel. Booking at least a week ahead will save you a lot of pounds or euros.

5. MAP OUT YOUR IMPORTANT LOCATIONS

I like to highlight my hotel, the airport, and all of my chosen attractions ahead of time so that we can all decide how to get there and what to include on the way.

Sure, some people like to wing it, but that makes me nervous - and it can lead to huge, unnecessary expenses along the way. Planning is fun!

10 days to go!


Image Credit » Mandy Gardner

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Comments

bestwriter wrote on August 28, 2014, 8:04 PM

Since you will be having company would you not like to consult them about their favourite places to visit - just a thought. I always take package tours. The tour conductors take care of the nitty gritty and also know of places that one should not miss. They also give us a few spare hours to do our own thing.

MandyG wrote on September 3, 2014, 5:38 PM

Oh don't worry - when I say list your favourite spots, I mean everyone in the group! We've all had lots of input on this trip :)

paigea wrote on September 5, 2014, 3:30 PM

It sounds like you are a great trip planner. Now I see where you are going. Don't buy any golden rings from strangers in Paris. (a little scam that at least only cost my husband 5 euros) lol

MandyG wrote on September 5, 2014, 3:46 PM

Aha! Good to know :D