Picture of How to Prepare for a Trip to Europe

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Step 1: Passport (4 months before your trip)

Picture of Passport (4 months before your trip)
Before planning a trip outside the United States, it is crucial to check the status of your passport. Every U.S. passport expires ten years from the date issued (for adults). If your passport is expired, or if you do not have a passport, you must register for one at least four months before your trip. This precaution ensures you receive your passport on time.

Attention: For safety reasons, it is important to stash a photocopy of all important travel documents at home.

More information can be found at the link below.


Step 2: Purchase Plane Tickets (3 1/2 - 4 months before your trip)

Picture of Purchase Plane Tickets (3 1/2 - 4 months before your trip)
After choosing a destination, the next step is to purchase a flight to the nearest major airport from your destination. 

WARNING: Prices are variable depending on location, time of purchase, and other factors beyond the typical person’s control.

According to the New York Times, it is best to score a cheap flight approximately 21 to 22 weeks in advance. Examples of ways to purchase a ticket are:
- Booking through a travel agent
- Purchasing tickets online from an Internet-based travel website (e.g. Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline, etc.)
- Ordering directly through an airline (e.g. United, British Airways, Lufthansa, etc.)

It is important NOT to purchase fares last minute. Fares are double what they were listed as a month prior, if purchased a week before the flight.
dchall82 years ago
We noticed in Moscow that the locals wear the same clothes from Sunday through Saturday. Then they change for the next week. And in Moscow you might only have hot water one day a week. Check before you leave home to see if the countries you will be visiting have rules regarding how much foreign currency (yours) you may enter the country with and how much native currency (theirs) you may leave with. Those amounts will be declared and checked when you arrive and depart.

We also made a spreadsheet showing the exchange rate, forwards and backwards, in multiples of 10  and 100 each way, and laminated it for easy reference.  It was sized to be the size of a credit card.  It was dollars to rubles on one side and rubles to dollars the other.  That made it easy to check the value of items you might also see at home. 
stoeff dchall82 years ago
Thats interesting, I stayed in Moscow only 6 weeks after your post and we had hot showers every day. Maybe because we stayed in a privat flat, not an hotel.
dchall8 stoeff2 years ago
We stayed in a private apartment...in 1998. Things may have changed but hot water would require an infrastructure change where we were. Just something to be aware of before you go.
stoeff2 years ago
It depents on where you want to fly to but I can hardly imagin any airport in Europe without an ATM. The same for train stations in larger cities.
Ranie-K2 years ago
Check if your destination country in Europe actually USE euros before converting any money.

No need to get US Dollars first if you don't live in USA. No need to find American embassies unless you are a US citizen.

Not all European countries use the same electrical outlets, so do some research before buying.