Planning for a 6-Week Europe Trip: Our Pre-Trip Struggles

For many of us, planning for a trip can be a rollercoaster of stress and excitement. Dreaming about the places you’ll see and all the amazing food will likely bring you a lot of joy. But then, the questions around logistics start to roll in. As an enneagram 1, I am a planner. I couldn’t fly off to Europe without a general idea of what we would be doing.

Despite all this planning, we accidentally booked our flight on the wrong week. We booked it for the finals week of our last quarter in college. Needless to say, it made our week extremely hard. There were many sleepless nights filled with studying, writing essays, booking transportation/activities, and packing. The morning we left was probably the most hectic morning of our lives, but we made it.

Here’s a glimpse into the hours of preparing for this trip:

1. Creating a basic itinerary

Since I am the planner in our relationship, I chose which countries to visit based on my past experiences and recommendations. We started off knowing that we would travel for six weeks and decided on the UK (England and Scotland), Spain, Italy, Greece, and France. We researched the activities we wanted to do to determine the amount of time we should spend in each country.

We decided not to go along with a pre-planned group tour, so we spent many hours researching how to get around and where we would stay. Although many people recommend the Eurail pass, we chose not to buy it because our route made more sense to do a mix of flights, train rides, and ferries.  It was not necessary for a total of only five train rides. As young adults with a budget, we tried our best to have a fairly cheap itinerary. At this point, Aaron and I had never stayed at a hostel before but knew hostels were a great way to save money while traveling. We booked a mix of hostels and hotels. We wanted to save money with hostels, but we also knew we would need a break from living with 4-12 other travelers. I decided to splurge on a 5-star hotel in Santorini because I always dreamed about staying at one of those cliff-side hotels with a view. Aaron disagreed with that decision initially since we could have saved a lot, but he ended up loving the experience.

Our rough itinerary included which cities we wanted visit, how many days we would stay there, ~75% of our travel accommodations, and ~50% of our hostels/hotels. We booked the remainder while we were already traveling. We ended up deciding on 2-3 days per city that we visited. For the most part, that gave us enough time to see the highlights in each city. We also loved having some free time to explore outside of the main tourist attractions.

2. Packing

Months before the trip, we researched and bought our backpacks. The Osprey Farpoint 55L was the perfect bag for us because it is large enough to fit everything we need for our trip, small enough to be considered a carry-on bag for our flights, and includes a detachable daypack. We highly recommend this bag for travel! If you won’t be traveling as often, walking long distances, or going up a bunch of stairs, you could also opt for a carry-on size suitcase. I love using this one for other trips! Another thing you may want to think about are packing cubes. We quickly realized that our bag would become a complete mess without them.

We finally started packing after we finished our exams, and that was so much harder than I thought it would be. In my mind, our entire trip would have beautiful weather with temperatures ranging from 70-80 degrees. In reality, we discovered some parts would be COLD (considering I’m from Hawaii and Aaron is from Southern California). Instead of packing only shirts, shorts, and swimsuits, we had to include long sleeves, pants, and coats. That made our bags so much fatter (honestly, we looked like turtles with shells on our backs). We both packed more than we needed. I recommend going extremely minimal because the extra weight is not worth it, and you end up using less than you think.

Once we were all packed, we began our trip by flying to London!

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