Are you thinking of taking a trip but not sure how to plan a two week European vacation?? If so, this post is for you!
Most Americans dream of taking a European vacation, but with the standard two weeks paid vacation time, it can be a struggle to accomplish everything on your list in such a short time frame. However, we successfully managed to plan a two week European vacation that last summer, and it was EPIC! Mind you, this was not the type of vacation where we spent two weeks laying around on a beach; we were on the move almost every day. Thanks to our planning, we can confidently say we saw Europe–we managed to visit three countries and six cities in our two weeks. Heres 8 tips on how to plan a two week European vacation you will never forget:
1. Look into booking one-way tickets
We knew we wanted to go to Iceland, so we booked a flight from LA to Reykjavik, where we would stay for a few days before flying to Berlin. We then traveled around Europe, and for our return flight we flew from Brussels back through Iceland to LA. This mainly saved us time–it was not as cost effective as booking the same returning flight, but we did not have to travel back to Berlin to come home. When you only have two weeks, every day counts! Also, check different cities near you to price compare. You may find that you can score a great deal on flights if you’re willing to be flexible with your itinerary.
We flew through Iceland because we wanted to see the country and found great rates traveling from the US! It was by far the cheapest route to mainland Europe.
2. Google Maps is your best friend
Before booking our trip, I made a list of places we wanted to go. I spent hours on Google Maps mapping out our route so we could make the most of our time, without wasting any time zig-zagging. It’s not the most fun part of planning a trip, but it’s very important. I just had to do the same thing when planning our trip to Bali. An added bonus of this strategy is that it gets you acquainted with the geography of the place you’re going before you even get there. That way, when you arrive, you are well-versed in the lay of the land.
Write down everything you want to see on your trip, and then go ahead and book or schedule it all. I know no one wants to have a booked calendar on vacation, but having a plan will ensure it all happens. You don’t want to go home feeling like you missed seeing something epic.
4. See what is close by
Although you might have your list of must-sees, looking up neighboring cities to where you are already going is a great way to squeeze in a little more culture without adding too much extra travel time. For instance, when we were were staying in Brussels, I looked up Brugge and realized it was only an hour away by train. We went and spent the entire day in Brugge and it was actually a huge highlight of our trip.
5. Fly, don’t drive
We love driving, especially in another country! It is a great way to get acquainted with your surroundings, but it can really eat up time! When you have limited time, you don’t want to be stuck behind the wheel for eight hours. Look into trains, as sometimes you can book a night train and sleep while you travel! There are also many inexpensive flights within Europe, which can save you hours getting from Point A to Point B.
6. Book some tours!
Micah almost always rolls his eyes at me when I tell him I have booked us on some tours, but once we are there he loves them as much as I do. Tours are great to get a feel for the place you’re visiting. Booking a tour on your first full day gives you some insight on the geography, and you might see other places you want to check out on your own later. Guided tours also give you a great history lesson, so you learn something new even while on vacation! I love this site Get Your Guide On!
7. Make a list
When you are doing your research and planning, jot down a list of restaurants and sights you might want to check out in each city. I always do this so I am prepared, that way when we are looking for a place to eat I have already done my research and know what is good. Or, if we have a spare afternoon, we can tackle some more sightseeing. This might be a little too type-A for some of you, but it’s always worked well for us! You don’t want to be looking up restaurants or activities on Trip Advisor during your trip when you could be spending that precious time enjoying your destination.
8. Make notes for your next trip back
There will always be things you wish you could have seen, but learn to be okay with that! We wanted to try to squeeze in Amsterdam on this trip, but after looking at our itinerary, I knew it would just be too much. The worst thing you can do is be totally rushed through your trip to the point where you don’t have time to sit back and enjoy a cappuccino at the corner cafe. Think of it this way–if you leave things for your next trip back, you have something to look forward to!
Do you have any tips on booking two-week trips? If so, we would love to hear them! It seems like once a year I am playing travel agent, booking all our activities and accommodations for our big vacation. Tips and tricks are welcome! Please comment below.