The excitement and anticipation of upcoming travel to Europe can make planning the trip all the more enjoyable. To determine how early to begin planning your trip, ask yourself these questions.
Do you have a passport?
If you need a passport, it can take up to a month and a half to receive it after you've applied. However, it's possible to receive a passport in only two weeks provided that you request the expedited service at an extra cost.
If you already have a passport, be sure to check the expiration date. Your passport should not expire within six months of the last day you plan to travel.
How complicated is your trip itinerary?
For complex trips involving visits to multiple countries and using various modes of transportation such as rail, car or flights within Europe; you may wish to begin planning your trip at least six months in advance.
You'll need time for planning an itinerary that perfectly coordinates all of the elements of your trip, ensuring the distances between places and the order of places to visit are reasonable so that you spend more time enjoying your time in Europe rather than traveling from place to place. Also, with complex itineraries, you'll want to be sure you have ample rest time. Hitting all of the popular sights can be exhausting.
What is your destination?
Certain destinations require more advance planning time than others. Are you traveling to Europe to attend a popular festival or show that may sell out a year in advance? Is the trip for a holiday for which flight and hotel availability will dwindle as the travel date approaches? Are you traveling to a European country that is not a popular tourist destination that will require more careful planning?
What is your travel style?
If you prefer luxury accommodations right in the center of the city, you may wish to begin planning your trip at least three months in advance to ensure you get the room, view and amenities that you want.
Not too early
There is such a thing as trying to plan your trip too early. For instance, if you're traveling to see an opera performance in Paris, it will be necessary to wait until the performance schedule is announced before planning your trip. The schedules are usually announced in March for the following season beginning in September.
Also, airlines and many hotels do not make their availability or rates public earlier than one year before the travel date.
Considering a trip to Europe? Receive personal Europe trip planning assistance.