For the past couple of years Nick and I have been wanting to take a trip to Europe. Earlier this year we decided that 2013 was the year to make our dreams a reality and so we switched into planning mode.
Since this will be our first trip to Europe together we decided to travel for two full weeks so we could visit several countries. We had such a difficult time narrowing down what cities we wanted to visit, but after some research and thoughtful discussion we decided to visit London, England (4 days); Paris, France (4 days); Brussels, Belgium (2 days); and Amsterdam, Netherlands (4 days).
We are lucky to be able to fly direct from D.C. to London and will return direct as well, from Amsterdam to D.C., so our travel time to and from Europe won’t be exhaustingly long. We’ll be taking high-speed trains between each country; and thankfully traveling through Europe is nothing like it is in the U.S. – our longest train ride is only about 3-hours, from London to Paris, so trekking from city to city won’t take away too much of our sightseeing time.
We were originally planning for a late-fall trip to avoid the summer heat and crowds, but once we started comparing work calendars we realized earlier in the year worked better and so we ended up booking flights for late-May to early-June.
After booking flights we shifted our focus to accommodations Rather than stay in hotels, Nick and I decided to rent small studios or one-bedroom apartments through the website Airbnb.com, which is very popular in Europe and similar to the U.S.’s vacation rental site HomeAway.com. The benefit of renting a small apartment is that we’ll have access to a kitchen, so we can eat some meals in rather than always dining out, and also a washer-and-dryer since we plan to only bring our duffel-bag backpacks (which will be so much easier getting on and off trains and to each of our destinations as we travel from country to country).
We’ve spent the past few weekends planning our itinerary and sightseeing routes and purchasing all of the maps, travel books and tickets we’ll need for our trip. We still have plenty more planning to do, but planning the trip is half the fun and we absolutely can’t wait for May.
Any tips, recommendations or suggestions from those who have visited are appreciated!