Five Digital and Five Analog Tips to Help Plan Your Trip to Europe

Five Digital and Five Analog Tips to Help Plan Your Trip to Europe

Downtown Dad and I are three days away from leaving the terra firma of the good old US of A to hurtle through the air across the top of the globe to our bucket-list/dream vacation location – Jolly Old England! We started planning this trip back in January, bought the tickets in August, and have been plotting, and mapping, and planning, and deliberating ever since! 

None of this travel agent, package deal, tour bus stuff for us! We wanted to control this trip ourselves – and at this point, I must say, we’ve done a pretty great job of it. From tickets, to travel times, from weather forecasts to walking shoes, we’ve done it all. We did this, in no small part thanks to the Interwebs, and apps, but with a healthy dollop of physical books, maps and other people’s advice. I’m here today to share with you my top five websites and apps to help you plan a vacation in England, along with five good old fashioned analog things to get you started.

  1. Before you do anything – check your passport! Make sure the expiration date is a least six months AFTER you return to the states!
  2. Make your plane reservations. The first two things you need to know are when you arrive at your destination, and when you have to leave. After that, everything is yours to decide. 
  3. If you’re going to rent a car make sure your driver’s license is current, and look into getting an International Driving Permit. These are available through places like AAA for about $8 to $10.
  4. Contact your cell phone carrier and make sure you have international calling, or temporary roaming so you aren’t blindsided by outrageous fees when you return home.
  5. Buy some maps of your destination and tack them up on a bulletin board. Stick pins in the places you want to see. 

OK, that’s it – now you’re ready to dive into the digital wonderland of vacation planning!

  1. The first thing Downtown Dad and I did after purchasing our airline tickets was to watch video after video of Rick Steves Europe. He is definitely the most laid-back, helpful, logical guide you could ever ask for. He has tips for everything from what to pack, to books and films that can help prepare you for your trip.
  2. Once we determined the outline of cities and sites we had to visit, we realized that we could save a lot of money if we purchased our admission tickets in advance. A site that helps you save even more money is England Heritage. You can purchase a 9 or 12 day pass which gives you free or reduced cost admission to England’s greatest historic attractions like Stonehenge, and numerous castles and cathedrals. The pass for two adults at 57 pounds (about $75 American at the time of this writing) is about as much as the admission to Stonehenge, so it basically pays for itself!
  3. With apps like TripAdvisor, there is no excuse for eating at a less than awesome establishment. Everyone from locals, to traveling chefs, to tourists just like you, post reviews and info about the restaurants in your area. The reviews are timely, (some as recent as yesterday the last time I checked) and honest. They share information such as what’s on the menu, to whether there are vegan or gluten-free options, to speed and friendliness of service. Eat somewhere local, talk to the servers and the other guests, learn a little bit wherever you go!
  4. We are big fans of AirBnB. Personally, we choose to rent from places that offer the entire home so that we have the place to ourselves, but there are rooms, private and shared available and the prices vary accordingly. On this particular trip we’ll be staying at 5 different AirBnB homes, all costing less than $100/night. For me, I really appreciate meeting the host, and having an experience that is very much like what it would be if you lived there. 
  5. And last but in no way least, do yourself a favor and download Google Trips. This app, the minute you download it, instantaneously searches your emails and compiles a list of your reservations. It then supplies you with clickable suggestions of things to do, places to visit, day plans, discounts, and more suggestions for places to eat and drink. 

Well, that’s about all of the wisdom I have to share for the moment. We’re into countdown mode now, making sure we’ve checked off everything on our to-do list!

Thanks for visiting!

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