How we planned our Europe Trip

8 May

Planning that first trip to any new continent is quite challenging. But planning that very first trip to Europe is nothing short of an overwhelming and even traumatic experience, as that first looks at the map of the continent and you are – “hmmm now from where should I start”. Even the lonely planet for this continent is super confusing with various editions like continental europe, central europe, western europe, eastern europe, Scandinavia etc etc. Phew…

Europe Map - courtesy

Europe Map – courtesy

This is clearly because there are about 50 countries to choose from and just too many things to see and explore – so much so that you are clearly spoilt for choices. And mind you everything is beautiful and worth an experience / visit. Here each country has its own unique history, culture, art, cuisine, landscape, architecture and in most cases even within each country there are numerous regions and small things to experience.

So like everyone before us (who is not going through a standard tour operator but doing a trip on their own), I and my sister were ultra confused on what to do and most importantly from where to start. All we knew when we started, was that we have the first 10 days to ourselves and then the balance 8 days with my friend P who is based out of Vaals.  We were to explore Western Germany, Northern Belgium and Southern Netherlands with her. The rest was upto us.

After numerous futile attempts we decided to start the trip planning by a rejection process i.e. what do we not want to see?

The first criteria on this rejection process was – we do not want to visit any place where all we will meet are fellow Indians back from home or those extremely romantic places.  This removed countries like Italy, Switzerland, Spain (after ZNMD) etc from the list.

The second criteria was that since we had a very tight budget, we didn’t want to visit any of the most expensive places / cities. Hence the entire Nordic countries, France, UK etc were out of the travel list.

The third criteria was – we had to travel to our parents perception of safe countries. Since we were 2 girls travelling alone in Europe for the first time our parents were pretty closed about any country that had seen any kind of unrest in the recent past or was not much a travel destination yet. So un-willingly the Balkan countries, Greece (was having civil riots then), Eastern Europe, etc were eliminated from the list.

By now with the major deletions done from the list we were left with a few countries. From the short-listed countries we then set a prioritising criteria which was –

  1. We had always read and heard a lot about Prague & Vienna and really wanted to visit these cities – So Austria and Czech Republic were included.
  2. We wanted efficient logistics in terms of connectivity by public transport trains/ buses between various cities (as we both don’t drive). We didn’t want to add any air travel to this mix to control the costing of the trip.
  3. Wanted to see a mix in terms of landscapes, architecture, art, culture etc.
  4. Mix in terms of costing and budget. Didnt want all cities to be too expensive.

Based on the above we decided to visit the following 5 countries – Czech Republic – Austria – Germany – Netherlands – Belgium. We really wanted to visit Hungary and Slovakia too along with Czech Republic but it just didn’t all fit in with the time that we had. So that’s for another trip dedicated to Eastern Europe.

We then did an in-depth research and short listed all cities that we would like to see in these countries and mixed it with day trips to the country side and / or small towns. So within cities we saw the museums, palaces, architecture, history etc but it was the excursions to the country side that gave us an insight into the local cultures, people and the natural beauty of these countries. This also worked well as it effectively managed the pace of the trip – as city visits can be slightly hectic with a lot of things to see and do and these side trips are more for leisure and relaxing.

Tips for Travel Plan –

  1. Decide on your own criteria for things that you like or do not like to see and make your short list of countries that you want to see / visit. At times its easier to start with a negative list.
  2. Then based on the personal wish-list, time that you have and the budget, prioritize the countries that you would like to see.
  3. For each country keep a balance between city visits and some country side visits.

So what are you guys waiting for….  Pick the continent, set the criteria, decide and then GET SET and GO.

26 Responses to “How we planned our Europe Trip”

  1. V. Sridhar May 8, 2012 at 22:17 #

    Italy rejected 😦


    • getsetandgo May 8, 2012 at 22:21 #

      Only for that trip but will surely do it sometime later. B/w my sis is following your travel style….


      • V. Sridhar May 8, 2012 at 22:22 #

        Walking around all over the place in developing countries style?


      • getsetandgo May 8, 2012 at 22:29 #

        Yes, exactly.


      • V. Sridhar May 8, 2012 at 22:32 #

        He he. way to go.


      • getsetandgo May 8, 2012 at 22:38 #

        All your influence. :):):)


      • V. Sridhar May 8, 2012 at 22:39 #

        We shall enjoy nicely next week in SL 🙂


      • getsetandgo May 8, 2012 at 22:41 #

        I am super jealous.. All green with envy.


      • V. Sridhar May 8, 2012 at 22:43 #

        Global citizens boss. In Global village.


      • getsetandgo May 8, 2012 at 22:44 #

        Errata… Global developing village :).


  2. IshitaUnblogged May 9, 2012 at 02:53 #

    Very nice read. Would love your posts with some photographs.


  3. danielandkellytravel May 9, 2012 at 14:24 #

    Great post! So true about Europe though. It’s so Hard to fit it all in and know where to go! Daniel and I are doing this massive bus trip through so many countries and are kind of freaking out that we shouldn’t have crammed so much in! Hopefully it will work out though! Your choices sound lovely and I am so excited to see some of those countries too 🙂 can’t wait to hear more!


    • getsetandgo May 9, 2012 at 16:11 #

      Hey Kelly, thanks for your feedback and I am sure it will all work out and you will have a fabulous trip. Even I had felt that we had added too many things in our list, but because we had planned everything in advance right down to the bus number we were able to cover it all. Also, please feel free to write to me if you have any queries on the countries that I have done and I will be happy to answer. Have a good trip.


  4. carobcarrotcake May 12, 2012 at 17:17 #

    I love Italy and Scotland, haven’t been to Germany yet, hope to go some day! 🙂


    • getsetandgo May 12, 2012 at 23:16 #

      I haven’t been to Italy and Scotland yet but have heard that they are beautiful. But It’s surely on the list for future travel.


  5. ericsphoto May 23, 2012 at 23:03 #

    Thank you for stopping by my blog!
    Come and visit Switzerland. You’ll see it’s not just chees, chocolate, cows and mountains ;), plus public transport is excellent!


    • getsetandgo May 25, 2012 at 11:03 #

      hi… Switzerland is on my travel list and hope to visit it soon.. 🙂


  6. pseudomantic June 27, 2012 at 15:12 #

    Hey, thanks for liking my Japan pics 🙂

    This is a good guide on how to plan an itinerary. The best travel lesson I’ve learned so far is ‘ditch the guidebook’! – everyone’s tastes, and by extension ideal itinerary, is different like you said.


    • getsetandgo July 1, 2012 at 01:37 #

      Hi, I so agree with you… I have seen so many itineraries with which you just see all the famous places but miss what you actually like to see or do. Hence we just do what we want to.


  7. Bron July 9, 2012 at 23:07 #

    I recommend including Croatia for next time (on your eastern European trip) – it’s very safe, very cheap (by European standards), the people are friendly, and the coast, towns and national parks are stunning. I’m sure you would love it!

    (PS thanks for stopping by my blog, happy travels! 🙂


    • getsetandgo July 13, 2012 at 12:00 #

      Thanks Bron…. Have heard some amazing stories about Croatia and will definitely include this on my next trip…


  8. Sarahlynn Pablo September 6, 2012 at 19:36 #

    Thanks for visiting my blog!

    That’s really interesting to read about your process… I couldn’t agree with you more about seeing the countryside – I don’t think you’ve really seen the country until you’ve seen the countryside! But where I have to disagree with you is over-planning (from reading the “About You” section). I do a lot of planning, too, I take copious amounts of notes, read bloggers like yourself, etc. But I think the best plan is the one you scrap for the better spontaneous thing/opportunity that presents itself at the last minute. You should always leave something for your next visit 🙂 Just another perspective. Looking forward to reading more of your posts!


    • getsetandgo September 7, 2012 at 14:48 #

      Hey, thanks for visiting my blog… I know its good to be spontaneous and leave a few things to chance / oppertunity… And it eventually happens too… None of my trip go exactly as I have planned them.. But given a choie I just cant leave things…. 🙂 Guess thats the control freak in me… I loved your blog too and look forward to reading more on your travels… Happy Travelling 🙂


      • all_about_elle November 4, 2014 at 11:18 #

        Great post and tips for new travellers! Thanks for stopping by my blog too! Yes, I agree with Bron, Croatia is amazing; a must see! One of my favourite places!


      • getsetandgo November 22, 2014 at 19:09 #

        Thanks 🙂 Croatia is so my list and I hope to make it there in 2015 🙂


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