Plan a Trip to Europe on Your Own: The Best Tools and Tips

Is there a way to plan trips easily and quickly without wasting too much time? In this post I share my own tips and tricks on how to plan a trip to Europe.

Planning a trip to Europe or anywhere else is definitely exciting, but more often than not there’s too much stress mixed with that excitement.

I plan a trip to Europe every year, and every time I sit down to plan my next trip, I’m overwhelmed by the amount of information online and by how long it takes to make a trip plan.

Too many decisions to make, too many sites to check, too much responsibility and so many details to pay attention to.

Packing for Europe is a skill, especially if you want to travel light to multiple destinations;

Finding flights is easy, if you know how to search for cheap flights;

Transportation within Europe may be confusing – Should you take a train or a bus or maybe fly between countries?;

Finding good accommodation in popular destinations may be can be tricky sometimes; and there are quite a few more things to consider.

I travel around Europe a lot and have found ways to make the trip planning process simpler, mostly by using sites and apps that save me a lot of time and by following Europe travel tips by other bloggers.

Here’s how you can plan your Europe trip online with the best user-friendly planning tools.

Find the Best Flights to Europe

The easiest way to find flights online when you plan a trip to Europe or anywhere else, is by using price comparison search engines.

They scan multiple airlines and dates for you in one go.

Enter a destination and a date (or a month) and see all the flights on the screen within moments. It saves a lot of time and hassle.

SkyScanner is one of my favourite flight search engine, because I find it so very easy to use.

Read more about the best ways to find flights >>

How to Get around Europe: Trains, Buses, Cars and Flights

Getting around Europe isn’t hard, but does require quite a bit of planning.

Some countries have excellent rail networks, while in others it’s better to rely on buses.

Flights within Europe can be very cheap, with many low-cost airlines operating in most European countries.

You can also rent a car or use car-sharing services.

So how do you know what to choose?

Trip planning, especially if you’re going to multiple destinations, is time consuming. Whenever I plan a trip to Europe, I spend quite a bit of time on figuring out the best get from one place to another.

You need to gather all the information, compare prices, calculate distances, work out all the small details…

I’m always looking for new ways to simplify the trip planning process.

That’s why I now use an online trip planning tool called Omio to do all the work for me.

GoEuro trip planning tool -  Transportation search in Europe

Omio searches train, buses and flights within Europe all at the same time. It’s fast, easy to use and saves you both time and money.

The results for buses, trains and flights are displayed in a way that lets you compare prices very easily.

You can then make a booking from within the Omio site or app and keep the e-ticket on your phone.

Get €10 off your first booking with Omio!

If you know you want to explore Europe by train, consider buying a European rail pass, called Eurail or InterRail.

What’s the difference between Eurail and InterRail? Eurail is for non-Europeans and InterRail is for Europeans, so only buy it if you reside in Europe.

Eurail - European rail pass trip planning tool
Eurail – travel around Europe by train

Eurail or InterRail sell different types of rail passes and also have special offers from time to time (check out the deals section).

Get a European City Pass

One of the best ways to experience a new city and save money is by getting the local city pass.

A city pass gives you discounts on the main attractions in the city and often free entrance to many of them.

It’s a great way to do your sightseeing for free or at a reduced price, but it’s also a handy trip planning trick: Reading about what’s included in the card might also give you ideas of new things to see and do in the city. It’s like a mini city guide that highlights all the main attractions for you.

City cards or city passes sometimes also include a public transport pass and airport transfers, which makes them extra useful and in some cities also very good value for money.

When you plan a trip to Europe and decide on the cities you want to visit, check what their city passes include and see if it’s going to save you money on things you want to see in that city.

City passes in major cities in Europe

Tips on Packing for Europe

Packing light is the best thing you can do for yourself when you travel, especially on a multicity trip.

If you’re planing on flying within Europe or using buses or trains, luggage space may be limited, so packing light will be super helpful.

Try to limit any huge shopping sprees to your last destination, so you don’t have to carry too much around with you when you move from country to country.

When you plan a trip to Europe, bear in mind that Europe has many different climates and you want to do your research before you go about each destination. Install a weather app on your phone if you don’t have one already.

However, remember that whatever you didn’t pack you can always buy at your destination.

When you pack for Europe, remember the limit on liquids and creams in your carry on applies on flights within Europe. They cannot exceed 100ml (or 3.38 oz).

The best way around it is to take small, leak-proof travel bottles on board with you, and buy whatever you need after you land.

Another important point about packing for Europe: Bring a
universal USB power adaptor that also converts electrical currencies.

Most European counties use the same plug (type C), but the UK, Ireland and Cyprus have different sockets and use type G. A universal adaptor will cover you for all plugs and will also be useful on other trips around the world.

It’s a good idea to bring a rain jacket with you, even if you’re planning a summer trip to Europe.

That depends on your specific destinations of course, but in many places in Europe it mights rain even in the middle of summer.

One more tip about planning a trip to Europe: Avoid bringing food into Europe if it’s restricted. Eat whatever food you bring with you while you’re on the plane.

In particular, do not bring any meat and dairy products from a non-EU country into the EU. It’s best to check the up-to-date restrictions for each destination before you go.

Click here for my full packing list for Europe >>

Booking Accommodation for Your Trip in Europe

When you’re planning your trip to Europe, finding the best accommodation for your taste and needs may be a time-consuming task, but there are ways to make it easier.

You want to book a place to stay at least for your first destination in Europe. This will give you peace of mind when you land.

I have met backpackers and other travellers who find a place once they arrive, but this may be a bit of a gamble in some popular destinations.

If you plan a trip to Europe in high season, it’s best to book accommodation in advance wherever you can, as big touristy places like London, Rome and Barcelona tend to get seriously crowded.

If you book in advance you won’t have to compromise too much on quality, location and amenities.

Here are my trip planning tips on booking a place to stay in Europe:

Airbnb – Live like a Local in Europe

I’ve found some amazing apartments on Airbnb on my own trips around Europe.

Airbnb is immensely popular in many European cities and towns. Some cities have even restricted the number of vacation rentals they allow… but you’ll still have plenty of flats and houses to choose from.

You can rent a room in somebody’s house, and if it’s a friendly host they’ll give you all the local tips you need.

If you want some privacy, rent a whole apartment and experience living like a local.

First timers on Airbnb get a special discount!

TripAdvisor – Easy Price Comparison

The best thing about TripAdvisor when you search for accommodation, is that it does a lot of the work for you when it comes to comparing prices and finding deals.

It shows you ratings, reviews, photos (including photos by other travellers, not just the official hotel photos), other nearby properties, a list of amenities and the locations on the map – essentially all the info you need on one page.

Booking.com – A Massive Selection

With a huge database of hotels, hostels, apartments, resorts, villas, guest houses and B&Bs, Booking.com is a great place to look for accommodation for your trip to Europe.

Hotels.com

What I like best about Hotels.com is that you get a free night for every 10 nights you book.

Foreign Currency and Credit Cards on a Trip to Europe

The Euro makes travel in Europe very easy, as you can use the same currency in many different countries.

While the Euro is used in most EU countries, some EU countries, as well as all non-EU countries, use their own currency.

Before you travel, check what currency is in use in the countries you want to visit.

Decide if you want to buy some Euros and other local currencies in advance or take money out at cash machines when you get there.

I’ve done both and it’s far easier to have the currency with you when you land. No need to go looking for cash machines at the airport and hoping they’re not charging you unusual fees.

On the other hand, if you’re going to several countries with different currencies, perhaps carrying all that money with you throughout the trip isn’t such a good idea…

If that’s the case, I suggest for your peace of mind that you withdraw the money instead.

You can also find out quite easily which credit cards are accepted at your destinations, just by Googling the question.

It’s always a good idea to have cash on you wherever you go, in case your card doesn’t work for some reason.

Click here for tips on how to keep your money and cards hidden when you travel >>

Plan My Trip to Europe for Me!

Not into DIY travel planning? Still not sure where to begin? You don’t have to plan your trip to Europe on your own.

Trip planners will make your life so much easier by planning a trip for you.

It will cost you some money, but if you’re really short on time this can be a perfect solution.

You can find trip planners on Fiverr quite easily. They offer a super affordable service. Check reviews to find the best planners.

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