Your European Vacation
One thing I have always regretted from my 20s is not taking the time to travel more. The barrier at the time was, "I don't have enough time or money to do a big trip the way I would want". Hostels were a no, backpacking was a no, and there was no way I would even be able to afford the flight, let alone the rest of the expenses so I thought.
One thing I've recently learned, is what I really lacked was the ability to properly plan. Having just come back from an incredible and life changing trip to Europe, I wanted to share how we did it with minimal impact to your checking account and zero impact on savings if you do it right.
Step 1. Decide when and how long you want to go and start saving immediately:
The most important thing to do, is do your research and see where you really want to go. At first, I was ambitious and wanted to cram as many places I've ever wanted to see into one trip. Narrowing the list down to 2 at the most is key. Make sure you research typical weather patterns and temperature averages during the time you want to go. Also, make sure that you don't need any special visa's to enter those particular countries.
After that, determine how much is reasonable for you to save per month and set that aside in cash. This may seem super obvious, but it's easy to just blow off saving and it's crucial. I set my goal of saving around $1000 to spend over a two week period just to give myself some cushion.
Step 2. Book your flight... EARLY.
You should book your flight as far enough in advance as you can. We did 6 months. This enables you to solidify your plans and make one payment. One of the biggest barriers most people have is the cost of the flight. You can find amazing deals from major airports direct on airlines like Norwegian Air for very affordable prices. If you need to, you can book the departing flight first, then wait a few weeks to book the return flight when you get another pay check, which is what we did.
Step 3. Book Lodging:
DO YOUR RESEARCH! Figure out main things you want to do and book something near those locations so you can cut down on travel costs from cabs or other public transportation. If you are traveling to more than one city, book one in month 2 and the other in month 3 and so on. This way you don't have to shell out hundreds of dollars all at one time.
Step 4. Book Excursions:
This may seem a bit extra, but the best part of all this pre-planning, is that everything is paid for by the time you go and all you have to do is show up and enjoy with your only expenses being food and entertainment which is much easier to manage.
Step 5. Get an international credit card:
I know this can seem a little scary for some, but not having to worry about international fees or having to carry around tons of physical money is amazing. Just make sure you know what your limit is, and stick to it!
Step 6. Get an international phone plan with data:
This is something I didn't do, and wish I would have. I had all of these grand ideas of completely disconnecting but the fact is, we rely way too much on technology for basic things like directions or looking things up that a local told you you must check out. Not having access to your phones normal function definitely slows you down.
The last thing is to just enjoy yourself. You've already paid everything off and have saved for months for your spending money. You don't have to worry about having the money to do things you really want to do.
You owe it to yourself to make your life as incredible as you can, and experience everything you can. Make it a goal this year to do some international travel. I will be highlighting our experiences in Amsterdam and Berlin in the days to come so make sure you check it out if those are places you're interested in.