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Planning Your Trip

Where to go and what route to take

We are on to "where to go and what route to take" - please see "Where to Start Planning" if you haven't already. We have all the basics now we are on to the good stuff!

Feel free to answer these questions with a pen and paper, in your head or print out the free worksheet here.

1) Determine where you will be flying into and out of. Check into open jaw tickets, which allows you to fly into one place and out of another. This is a major time saver. If you are under 26, ask your travel agent if there are any youth passes available. Phone around to all the travel agents in the phone book and compare prices.

2) Write down (on a piece of paper or your worksheet) any events or places where you must be on a certain date - for example, staying with friends 14-16, Munich or festival in Paris, 18th. These should be things that you will need to work around and that aren't flexible.

3) Now let's determine where you want to go. To do this, you will need a map - this is my favorite: Lonely Planet Europe.

Make 2 lists (or use your worksheet) - the countries that are "musts" and the countries you want to see if you have time. Be picky about the musts, you shouldn't have too many on that side of your list. Leave room under each country so you can write down cities.

4) Now go through each country and write down cities you are interested in seeing. Use the same map above but now click on each individual country in order to see the cities. Do some research on the web, consult the Message Boards and really find what interests you.

5) Now that we have our list, we are cutting it down! You don't want to travel to a place to stay any less than about 2.5 days, 3 for bigger places. The train or traveling in general is tiring, trust me, the last thing you want to do is get back on right after you've gotten off.

6) Take your list and draw up a rough route so that you are travelling in a circle if you are flying out of the same place or in a straight line if you have an open jaw ticket. The goal is to avoid backtracking.

7) So are you going to fly to these places or take the train?

If you are using the train, visit Rail Europe and click on "Fares and Schedules" on the left hand side. This will allow you to put in two destinations and see how long it will take. Write down the travel time between them.

If you want to use budget airlines, try the following:

8) So let's get our calendar and start filling in the days. Remember, give yourself time in each place - it's better to cut out destinations rather than spend the whole trip on a train. Also, the day you arrive might not be considered a day there - if you arrive at 6pm, you won't have much time to do anything. Print off a free calendar here:

Printable Calendars (scroll down to monthly calendars and print off the month or months you need.

So now you should have your route and most of the other details set. If you are planning on using a rail pass, your next step is to visit the Rail passes section to find out which pass works best for you. If you are under 26, make sure you get a youth pass for extra savings.

After that, book some accommodation and some travel insurance and visit the section on how to buy a backpack and you are on your way to Europe!

Please visit our our message boards and post any questions that you still might have. We'd be happy to answer them for you. Oh, and we love "on the road" reports and hearing about what you are up to in Europe!

Happy Travels!


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