Step 1: Passport (4 Months Before Your Trip)
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)
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.
Step 3: Arrange Accommodations (3 Months Before Your Trip)
Please note, accommodations may already be predetermined for some readers, but this is an important task.
Research - The best way to ensure a positive experience is to research. Guidebooks, hotel websites, and Internet-based travel websites that include traveler reviews are great tools to landing a great hotel.
Location – It is best to pick a hotel that is near areas of interest and in a safer neighborhood. Traveler reviews are helpful in aiding you in finding a good location.
Timing- Purchasing lodging arrangements, like flights, is best done sooner than later.
Step 4: Purchase Key Items (2 Months Before Your Trip)
Proper luggage is must for any long distance trip. Confirm you are complying with rules for the airline on checked luggage and carry-on items. Depending on your airline, carry-on items may include:
-Smaller suitcase passing dimensions required by airport security
Quantities of bags and particular carry-on items depend on each airline. Be sure to clarify with your airline to confirm what luggage can be brought with you.
There are always new rules in airport security that prohibit particular items and quantities of - other items, including liquids.
A European power outlet adapter is a necessity for all American visitors to Europe. Be sure to purchase one from any electronics or department store before your trip.
Consider signing up for an international phone plan with your wireless provider. Communication in an unfamiliar place prevents a lot of unnecessary stress on a trip.
Step 5: Prepare Yourself for Travel (1 1/2 - 2 Months Before Your Trip)
-Be sure to call your bank and/or credit card company notifying them of your travel plans so your debit/credit cards will work while abroad. Also, ask about international use fees!
-Convert some U.S. dollars into Euros. The amount of money is dependent on you, but 200-300 Euros should suffice over your commute.
-Find out the location and phone number of the local American Embassy (just in case).
-Learn some phrases in the native language(s), and purchase a translation book if you would like.
-Hydrate with plenty of water to help prevent jet lag.
Step 6: Pack (1 Month Before Your Trip)
Important items to pack:
- Passport or Visa
- Driver’s License
- Credit/debit card (leave all other cards at home)
- Both American and European currency
- Car and house keys (leave all others at home)
- Clothes (dress for the season, check online for weather)
- European power outlet
- Phone Charger
- Toiletries (in appropriate sized containers)
Step 7: Research Places to Visit (1 Month Before Your Trip)
-Your local library
-Travel review websites
Step 8: Transportation Planning (3 Weeks - 1 Month Before Your Trip)
Look into the public transportation websites of cities you plan on visiting to see fares of transportation that suits you and your needs over the duration of your trip.
Step 9: Prepare Your Home for Travel (1 Day - 2 Weeks Before Your Trip)
-Contact your local post office and put your mail and newspapers on hold over the duration of your trip. This prevents hinting strangers that you aren't home.
-Turn down the thermostat to approximately 10 degrees lower than normal. WARNING: Do NOT turn off your heat in the winter to prevent pipes from freezing.
-Turn off computers and other home appliances unused over the duration of your trip.
-Throw out foods that will spoil while you are gone for several days
-Make arrangements for watering plants and taking care of pets
Step 10: Arrive Early for Your Flight (2-3 Hours Before Your Trip)
Be aware of customs and security while making your way through the airport.
Have a fun and safe trip!