I've been getting lots of calls for trips to Europe this summer and fall. The value of the dollar against the Euro is the best it's been in years making the trip more affordable than ever. The airlines are making money so less chance of a layoff. And there's the pent up demand factor, feeling like we couldn't afford it before, we're going for it now. With so much available on the internet we think all we need to do is spend an hour on our computer and Voila! The Picture Postcard European Adventure.
Not so fast. Let's ponder a few things BEFORE we plan that vacation. This pondering is done best with family input.
What kind of traveler are you?
Are you detailed planners or seat of your pants adventurers? If you're the latter, maybe all you need are plane tickets, hotel reservations and money. If you're the former then you're not going to feel comfortable unless you have some structure and schedules in your planning before you leave. Two of us in my family are the planners and two of us are a little more devil may care. When faced with a seriously low gas tank in France and a long overdue lunch, two of us wanted to get the gas first and two of us argued for lunch. We found a cafe right next to the gas station. Harmony.
It's easy to be dazzled by the thought of having all of Europe at your feet for a ten-day vacation. Think about it, Italy is about the size of California and France is a little smaller than Texas. Do you want to move locations and hotels every other day? Do you want to spend a lot of your vacation in between stops or at your destinations? Can you go all day or do you like to pace yourself? How do you want to spend your money? Tours, meals, transportation, shopping, accommodations? What's important to you? When you're looking at flights is price more important than schedule or the number of stops? What's your budget? If you don't have one then either it doesn't matter or it might scare you to think about what it's really costing. It doesn't have to.
Work with someone that knows
If you're going somewhere you've never been before it makes sense to plan your trip with someone who knows a lot about the place. Be open with them about what you're looking for. Find someone you trust and who knows the best part of town to stay, how to get around, how much time to spend there and what to do while you're there. Your goal should be to surpass your expectations. Don't be afraid to ask, this is the service you get when you can actually speak to someone