How to Plan a European Holiday

Planning a Europe trip? Your holiday abroad is sure to be an unforgettable experience, but the preparation involved can feel intimidating.

If you’re determined to plan your European trip (rather than letting someone else organise it for you), we’ve put together a whole eBook to help you. Read on for a summary of our Essential European Holiday Planner, or check out the full guide here.

Step 1: Choose Your Dates

Cinque Terre, Italy

We recommend May, early June, August and September if you’d like a good balance of beautiful weather and manageable crowds. Alternatively, if you don’t mind the cold and love Christmas spirit, consider planning a Europe trip in December/January.

To get the best prices on plane tickets

  • Try to book flights at least 4-5 months in advance
  • Use an airfare-tracking app like Hopper when choosing which day to buy
  • Look at sites like Webjet to compare prices between airlines or ask our Reservations Staff to provide you with a quote with your European tour.

If you haven’t already, you’ll also need to choose your destination(s). Take our quiz to find out which European country could be right up your alley.

Step 2: Get Insurance

Travel insurance is essential. Nobody wants their European trip to be ruined by an unexpected hospital bill. We suggest getting a policy with QBE Insurance or another reliable provider (feel free to contact us if you’d like a quote).

Step 3: Plan Your Itinerary

Yes, this is the hard part because there are so many cities and towns to choose from when planning a Europe trip. But it’s also the fun part! You get to spend time reading about the amazing places you want to visit and browsing through gorgeous photos of your potential destinations.

If you get stuck or feel overwhelmed by your options, try these tips:

  • Consider the local language (e.g. if you’re learning German or love listening to conversations in French, at least one of your destinations should be obvious). 
  • Cross-reference your bucket list (e.g. if any of our 10 must-see places are on your list too, see how many you can fit into your itinerary).
  • Think about transport (e.g. most European countries have great rail systems, but sticking to bigger towns is advisable if you want to avoid expensive taxis).
  • Go with your gut (e.g. if you adore authentic pizza, a stop in Naples is non-negotiable).
  • Let your wallet lead the way (e.g. when shopping for souvenirs, some cities have unmissable markets. If you plan to visit during the festive season, Germany and Austria’s Christmas markets are must-dos).

Feel free to browse our destination overviews to find out more about what’s on offer in each country.

Step 4: Pack Your Bags

Before you even open your suitcase, write a checklist of all your essentials. Be sure to put this checklist in last so you can reuse it when packing to leave a hotel (because nobody wants to leave their phone charger under the bed!).

Here are 5 of our top packing tips:

  • Leave enough free space for the souvenirs you’ll inevitably buy.
  • Exchange about $200 worth of euros or pounds before you depart (our currency convertor can help you predict a good day to exchange). 
  • Pack shoes that will still be comfy even after lots of walking.
  • Work out which power adaptor(s) you’ll need (2 round prongs for most of Europe, 3 rectangular prongs for the UK and Ireland). 
  • Prepare a mini medical kit with Band-Aids, Panadol, lozenges, lip balm, and any medications you need.

Step 5: Survive the Flight

The worst thing about Europe? It’s half a world away! This means a long-haul flight is just part of the deal. While it may not be enjoyable, here are some things you can do to make your journey more bearable:

  • Pack essentials (like a toothbrush and roll-on deodorant) and a change of outfit in your carry-on luggage.
  • Buy some noise reduction headphones to enjoy inflight entertainment or movies on your tablet. 
  • Get plenty of rest and eat well prior to your flight.
  • Stay hydrated and wash your face regularly.
  • Get up for a walk or stretch in your seat as often as you can. 

Step 6: Enjoy Your Holiday!

Dinan, France

Once you touch down, it’s time to start embracing all the culture, history, beauty and cuisine that this glorious continent has to offer.

Planning a Europe trip can feel like a lot of work, but you’ll realise how worthwhile that preparation was as soon as your holiday begins. To enrich your time away, download or bookmark our Essential European Holiday Planner so you can refer to it on the plane and while you’re travelling.

Julia's picture
Julia Higginbotham

Julia Higginbotham is the Marketing Executive at Albatross Tours