My boyfriend and I leave for our European vacation in 34 DAYS!!! We will be traveling to France (Paris and South of France) and Italy (Venice, Florence, and Rome). This will be our second trip to Europe and I am even more excited this time around than I was the first. Probably because I planned the whole thing. So here is the deal, I’m a planner, in life and by profession. Andy claims to plan but likes to wait until the last-minute and then scrambles. It drives me beyond insane and gives me the worst anxiety. The first vacation we went on last year was Paris, Belgium, London, and Ireland. My mom coordinated the trip and used a travel agent. Because we weren’t involved from the start, we didn’t get a say in what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go. So this time, I took matters into my own hands.
Starting in December 2014, I mapped out where we wanted to go, what airlines offered direct flights, and reviewed best times of year to go (Andy has over-active sweat glands, and peak seasons just won’t work). I went back to our travel agency Gate1 Travel and created my own tentative itinerary. This allowed me to see prices for airfare, what hotels were available, where they were located, and what tour options would we be interested. I checked out tours (Viator) and train prices (Rail Europe) and they tour packages they weren’t offered on Gate 1 or at a discounted rate. I was able to save over $500!! When, traveling (especially on a budget) always have options!
In March, I laid out all of the prices in an excel document and presented it to Andy. That way he can see everything for himself and feel like he has a voice, but at the same time I still have control. There is nothing worse than dealing with someone who doesn’t know what they want and putz around. I like quick decisions! After Andy took a look at my itinerary and gave me the thumbs up, we put down our deposit and away we gooooo!
I’ve started making a list of things to bring with and what to wear during the vacation. There is nothing worse than realizing you forgot your favorite pair of sunglasses or statement necklace. So here are some “Know Before You Go” tips to ensure you are completely prepared!
- Research what the weather will be like during your vacation. Whether it’s 30% chance of rain or snow. Be prepared!
- Research the dress attire for the cities you’re going to while traveling internationally. Some places may be more lax than others. Many churches and museums require women to wear dresses or skirts that are knee-length. Monaco will never let Andy in a restaurant with his ‘Suns Out Guns Out’ tank and basketball shorts. Take a few moments to see what others wear. Besides it’s always best to overdress! 🙂
- Start making a list of what you should bring a month out. Last minute packing never does anybody good. The longer you wait the more likely you are going to forget something.
- When making your list- write down what you want to wear. Starting from the shoes all the way up the sun hat. Then immediately pack it away! I like to create a day outfit and night outfit, just in case. Try on each outfit in front of a body length mirror. Take photos. Whatever it takes. When you’re going on vacation, you most likely will have an itinerary planned. So plan head, so that you don’t fall behind your schedule each day.
- Pack smart! Take your time when you pack your suitcase. There are many different ways to conserve luggage. Whether it’s rolling your clothes or using a vacuum bag, find what works best for you. Check out my Pinterest page for a few ideas! If there is something that isn’t on your list and it found its way into our bag, take it out! No need to carry excess baggage. Besides, if you really needed it, it would have been on your list to begin with 🙂
- Take a picture of your items in your suitcase. In case your luggage gets lost, it’s easier to file a claim when you have photographic evidence of what was inside your suitcase.
- Purchase a luggage scale. If you have still manage to over pack, I highly recommend purchasing this handy doodad. When traveling internationally, you’re allowed one complimentary carry-on. Anything over 50 lbs incurs a $50 fee. So weigh your bag before you leave. You don’t want to be like my mother taking clothes out and other personal belongings at the airport. Sorry, Mom!
- Place a luggage tag on your suitcase with your contact information. Again, if you lose your suitcase, someone may find and has a way of getting ahold of you!