Planning an overseas trip can be overwhelming. Everything from choosing your destination, setting up a budget to finding the best ways of navigating the city can get quite tricky pretty quickly. Luckily, Europe is pretty easy to figure out once you know which are the right resources for you. Let me show you how to choose the right resource with this list I put together of the best free travel resources to help you plan your next Eurotrip!
Many of you have probably heard of this website before. Its main feature is helping you find the best flights deals of your destination of choice, or even the cheapest option on your preferred dates. My favorite feature is its e-mail price notification. You set up a destination and a time frame and it will let you know how are the prices fluctuating. Great for catching cheap prices early!
Sky team and Star Alliance
Sometimes Skyscanner is not enough, so once I find a cheap option through them, I check directly on the airline’s website to compare. I have actually found cheaper options when I enter the airline’s website directly! Sky team flies frequently to Mexico from Europe, but most of Brussels’s flights are from the Star Alliance. So I’ll check both options. I would recommend getting the alliances’ loyalty cards because the miles you accumulate can be transferred among the airlines. For example, if you have an Air France loyalty card, you can add your miles to your flights with KLM or Aeromexico.
This online agency has never let me down. You fill find the best deals for overseas flights in here. Though I do recommend you stay on incognito mode so prices stay the same. And if something ever comes up with my flight, they personally fix it and you can e-mail them for questions and changes and they will promptly respond.
Low cost airlines: Ryan Air, Easy Jet, Wizz Air
A very efficient and economical option for flying within Europe are Ryan Air, Easy Jet and Wizz Air. All of them have their pros and cons. For example, Wizz Air has more flights to off-the-beaten path destinations that are not necessarily the capitals (for example London-Tuzla). On the other hand, Ryan Air usually flies to airports very far away from the capital city and will overcharge you for every minuscule mistake you make. By far, my favorite is Easy Jet because their bag allowance is larger and manages to fly cheaply to the capitals’ main airports.
This is a new resource I’ve been using more lately. It works similarly to Skyscanner but without much of the fuzz (like those random windows that open up with every click). You can also use its email notification system, and they won’t email you daily like Skyscanner, just when something really good pops-up or if prices have increased significantly.
Europe is very easy to navigate by train. The Europass ticket lets you travel to as much countries as you want for a fixed price. You could even travel on a night train and save yourself the hotel fee. Though you do have to know that trains differ greatly from country to country, some countries don’t have a fast train system in place so this might not be the most efficient option for you.
If you still don’t know if it’s better to travel by air or land, you can use Rome2Rio to weight in your options. There’s also the option of traveling by bus, which in my experience, are faster than trains and travel more often too. You can compare distance, time and prices between the destinations that you chose.
I find the best hotels deal in this website. I’ve tried using other options, like booking directly on the website of the hotel, but even with their discounts or media rate price, they can’t beat what you find on booking.com. Also, insider tip, they have a special program that when you book through them, they will give you discounts on several tours or activities. We got our last boat tour in Amsterdam for free!
Airbnb is a must if you are booking a trip with a group. It won’t be the cheapest option but probably the most convenient. You will probably luck out and be able to find a beautiful place with several rooms right in the city center, and a full kitchen. We found a 2 bedroom apartment, with a living room with 3 sofa beds and a full-set kitchen right next to Pula’s Colosseum for 30€ per night. A great deal for 8 people on a long weekend away!
If you are on a budget, then this is the resource for you. It may not have the most glamorous options but let’s be honest, you’re probably just going to explore the city for the whole day and just crash in the bed in the middle of the night. There are always all-female room options if you’re more comfortable with that type of arrangement as well as private room options with your own bathroom.
Even if you’re not moving abroad, this is a great resource to find blogs of the country you are visiting which will be filled with lots of insider tips about what to do there and where to eat. Sometimes, even events suggestions will be announced as well.
Expatica (for selected countries only)
This website is a rich resource with lots of expat information about Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and some other contries. You will find everything from visa requirements, real state, cost of living and general events. Literally, my bible before moving to Brussels!
THINGS TO DO
The holy grail of travel planning, TripAdvisor has all kinds of information to help you plan your trip. You will be able to find everything you need from places to eat, tours and activities. I would be wary of the reviews though. Do take a look at the 3 star reviews just to give you an overall general idea of what people think is average of the place. You might be surprised at what you find!
Instagram needs to get a what to do and where to eat application, asap! For the last couple of years, cities hashtags have been my go-to resource for finding the cool places to visit, and most importantly, where to eat. When I find a restaurant of hotel’s website, the first thing I do is check their Instagram or hashtag to see what people are posting and to make sure they do deliver on their promises. I know that a lot of travel bloggers are hating on the fact that some influencers are making some spots “Instagram shots” but if you leave that aside, it is actually helpful!
Facebook events near you
How did I just discovered this new feature? This is now our go-to app for our fun family weekend outings. You just need to go to your Facebook, select events near you, pick the time frame and your set with fun activities to do all weekend long. Just make sure you don’t crash Marie’s and Pierre’s 50th wedding anniversary party!
When in doubt about the visa situation between your home country and the one you are visiting, check iVisa.com. Since most European countries fall into the Schengen area, you probably won’t have any issues since there is no border control but it doesn’t hurt to double check. Specially if you are traveling to East Europe or the Balkan countries. They also help you sort out your visa documentations and requirements.
I know this can sounds quite obvious but you have no idea how many times I’ve been under prepared for the weather. For some reason, my phone’s climate estimations are ALWAYS off. Skip weather.com or the Weather Channel and make Accuweather your default option. And as always, there’s an app for that as well. You can download Accuweather to you phone and be happy forever!
Which is your go to resource for planning your travels?
From the planning side of this,
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