I’m so excited to chat about one of my favorite topics today – Europe!
This area of the world is a goldmine of lovely vacation destinations, a delicious mix of the most savory cuisines, and some of the most beautiful cultures and languages in the world. My list of places to visit in Europe is seemingly never-ending, but luckily, I’m able to cross a few off the list each time I visit!
Let me kick this off by debunking some myths. The two main things that I hear when people plan trips abroad are that flights to/from Europe are super expensive and that it is too difficult to manage an itinerary with multiple countries. Not only are both of these not true, they can both be easily solved with a little bit of research and some planning.
Read on for my favorite tips to plan your multi-stop journey.
Make a List
Perhaps the most simple tip of them all, make a list of your dream destinations throughout the entire continent. Don’t think about this one geographically for now, just make your list based on places you want to go.
Once you’ve made your list, it’s time to start grouping by region.
Let’s say you’ve listed Paris, Nice, and Amsterdam – perfect! These cities can all be easily visited in ONE trip!
Dates, Dates, Dates
So you’ve made your groups and there’s some pretty distinct geographical divides in there, which is perfect! It’s time to open a web browser and check out my favorite tool for researching flights – Google Flights.
Google Flights is by no means groundbreaking, but, in my opinion, it is the easiest tool to navigate and keep track of what you’ve researched. You can search with an open destination, you can search by trip length, you can search with multiple destination cities.
So, using our example, let’s say that you want to go to Paris, Nice, and Amsterdam, and you want to travel on a nine-day trip sometime in September. Using Google Flights, I’ll plug in my home airport and London as my destination with some arbitrary dates in September. Now that you’ve gotten your primary results, you can hit the Price Graph button to see all the price trends for nine-day trips departing on different dates for months at a time.
Using this tool, I typically find the ranges that work with my schedule with the lowest prices and write them down. I repeat this process for each major city in my trip, so, for this example, I’d repeat this process for Boston to Paris and Boston to Amsterdam.
Once you have your list of potential dates, it’s time to identify the cheapest and most appealing options to you. Highlight those options on your sheet.
Identifying Your Landing Point
Using our example, let’s say that you identify Boston to Paris as your best and most inexpensive option. From here on out, Paris is going to be what I like to call a landing point. Your landing point is going to be your “home-base” of sorts for your trip. You are going to start your trip here and end your trip here.
I always, always, always plan to end my trip in my landing point destination. Why? Because if anything goes wrong throughout my multi-destination journey, I’ll have a few days to figure out how to get back rather than a few hours.
For this trip, let’s say that I’ve planned to start my trip in Amsterdam, travel to Nice in the middle, and end at my landing point in Paris. Now, this is where the questions start to flood in – if my trip is going to start in Amsterdam, why am I booking roundtrip to Paris?
It’s a no-brainer.
If Paris is your least expensive and most appealing option, why wouldn’t you book this as a landing point? You could spend a few hundred more and book a one-way ticket to Amsterdam and a one-way ticket home from Paris, but from my experience booking travel this way, this is typically more expensive and includes some sort of inconvenient stopover.
To simplify, think of your Paris roundtrip flight as a simple stopover to your starting destination.
My rationale behind all of this? Once you get to Europe, you can go anywhere within hours for typically a very reasonable price.
The Planning Process
So you’ve locked in your roundtrip ticket to Europe – you’re going! Now it’s time to plan the rest of your journey, the fun part!
Once I have a beginning and end to a trip, the details usually fall into place pretty easily depending on how long I decide to spend in a destination. Once I figure out those details, I book one-way flights or train tickets to my next destination.
Another awesome thing about traveling in Europe? If you’re traveling within the Schengen Area, you won’t need to go through customs on each journey! This will save you tons of time when traveling between different destinations.
My favorite trip I’ve booked this way? A roundtrip ticket to Madrid, with stops in Paris, Nice, Barcelona, and Madrid all in ten days! (All photos above were taken on this AMAZING girls trip.)
I’ve used this method for planning and booking a handful of trips to Europe and have always had good luck. It does require a bit more work, but, for me at least, I love the research that goes into this process, making my trip feel really custom. Also, I usually save a bit of money, so that’s always great too!
How do you book multi-destination vacations? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments.
As always, if you want help planning your trip, I specialize in creating a completely custom vacations just for you! Whether you’re about to book or just starting the planning process, send me an email or check out my services here.