It’s finally here! This post is an overview of all of the info you guys requested about our trip to Europe! I’m probably going to do a few more posts about Europe, but this should give you an idea of what it took to plan & execute this trip.
Step 1: Determining an itinerary.
So, the thing you all wanted to know the most was our itinerary & how we picked it,
We started talking about doing this big trip for our 5 year anniversary on our Honeymoon. Over the years we continued to talk about it & decided we wanted to go to Europe. Will picked his number on place to visit – Munich, Germany – & I picked my number spot to visit – Amalfi, Italy. Once we determined those two spots, I looked for a site to help me figure out where to go in between.
I asked for recommendations on Facebook & someone suggested Tour Planner. GAME CHANGER! You simply plug in your must go places & it shows you what’s along the way & roughly how long the travel between each place is. I researched the places that popped up along the way & that’s how I figured out what to do in between our top spots. Here’s what Tour Planner looks like.
Step 2: Booking flights.
Before determining a flight budget, I started looking up flights (I used Kayak). I honestly had no idea what flights to Europe would cost. So, I started researching first & then determine that our budget would be $2,000 for flights ($1,000 each, round trip). We ended up right at $1,900 total. I probably researched flights on & off for about 4 months before booking.
Part of determining the budget was discussing how comfortable we wanted to be. We definitely could’ve found cheaper flights, but the layover times were ridiculous. I narrowed my search to flights with a layover time of 5 hours or less. Seriously, some of these flights have a 17 hour layover! To us, that wasn’t worth it. We had to find a balance between finding something convenient & on budget.
Here are just a few tips I have for long flights – keep in mind, I’m no expert! I’ve only done this once!
Step 3: Booking lodging.
When I first started planning this I really thought I was going to be booking mostly on AirBnb, but Expedia ended up being my best friend. One of the AirBnb’s I booked fell through a week before the trip & there were many times when I requested an AirBnb & never got a response. Plus, there are some perks to using Expedia. You earn points when you book with them & the app makes it so easy to keep all of your reservations organized. Everything we booked was on Expedia except on AirBnb in Austria.
I determined our lodging budget the same way I did with the flights. I started researching hotels in the areas we were going & then decided based off the average price of the level of place we wanted to stay…if that makes sense. Basically, I didn’t want to be staying anywhere sketchy!
The budget I did for lodging was $1,500 for our 14 days trip, so basically $100 a night. BUT, I knew we were staying with friends in Vicenza for 2 nights, so that I meant I could go a little over on a few places. The hotels in Germany & Austria were all between $75-$85 a night, but Italy was more expensive. Luckily, I gave myself a buffer by not hitting that $100 mark per night in Germany & Austria.
You guys wanted the exact price breakdown, so I’m going to put the town, the hotel, the number of nights we stayed there, & then the total for our stay. This is with all of the tax, cleaning fees, service fees, etc.
Everywhere we stayed was nice, but there were a few standouts. I think our absolutely favorite was the Grand Hotel Due Golfi in Sorrento. Yes, it was the most expensive, but it was worth it! I wish we would’ve stayed there longer! They had a full restaurant, bar looking out at the amazing view, & a free shuttle to get into town. Here are a couple shots of the view at the hotel. The first one is the view from our room & the second is by the pool.
Our AirBnb in Trins was either probably a close second! The hosts of this little boutique hotel will go above & beyond to give you everything you need. There’s restaurant in the hotel that is amazing. It was probably some of the freshest food we’ve ever eaten. They helped us book our train to our next stop & gave us directions for a quick hike to a waterfall. They were just amazing & the view was unbeatable. Here are a few snaps.
One thing I would do differently when it comes to booking lodging is that I would book near the local transportation. We spent more money than we needed to on taxis, because a few of our hotels weren’t close to the bus/train station.
So, we figured out the rest of the steps after we got to Europe. Everything up to this point was what we booked & planned ahead of time & the rest of this post will be what we figured out after we got there.
Step 4. Transportation.
As you have probably already heard, traveling within Europe is very easy. They have flights, trains, buses, etc.
For our longer trips, we took a couple of different modes of transportation. We used a company called FlixBus whenever it was available, because that was typically the cheapest, plus the buses had wifi! We found tickets from Stuttgart to Munich (which is about 3 hours) from only $10 each! The train was around $60 each, so the choice was obvious. Will used an app called Omio & it compares the bus, train, & flights fares for you.
Once we were in the cities we stayed in, we tried to use the public transportation as much as possible. In Munich, we got to know subways & city buses really well! They were super convenient & so much cheaper than Ubers. Plus, they were very safe! In Austria we used the public buses, as well. In Italy, we used the trains more. The public buses we’re a little crowded, so we opted for the trains, which were like 2 euro per ride. We did end up having to take quite a few taxis, but I would avoid them if you can. Once they noticed you’re tourists from America, they will rip you off.
Step 5. Site seeing & Tours
The only tour we booked before our trip was the only we took to the castles in Germany. We booked it like a few days before our trip & I’m so glad we did it! It was awesome to go with a tour who could give us all the information & it was also great meeting people. A lot of the people on the tour were American’s, so it was cool to hear everyones reasons for traveling abroad. We even got dinner with a couple we met on the tour!
We also booked a tour of the Vatican Museums the day we went. We booked this one just a few hours before the tour. Other than that, we did everything else on our own. There’s something cool about figuring things out on your own, but also a comfort in going with a group. So, depending on how adventurous you’re feeling, you might not need to book a bunch of tours. If you’re someone who likes to have all of the info right in front of you, book a tour. I think if I were to go back, I would do just a few more tours.
Here’s a snap from the Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany.
Step 6. Restaurants.
We pretty much just winged it with restaurants! We typically just looked up ‘Restaurants near me’ on Google & picked one of the top ones. Here are our top three restaurants:
My absolutely FAVORITE restaurant was Trattoria Del Mori. Everything we had was amazing, but my gnocchi was absolutely incredible! We loved Cafe Wienerhof, because it was the freshest food we’ve ever eaten! We went to the original Hofbrauhaus in Munich & it was such a fun experience. You sit at long tables with people other groups, so it’s a fun places to get to know new people. Plus, it’s the classic beer, pretzels, & schnitzel!
In conclusion, here are some overall tips & things to keep in mind:
My advise to you is, if you have a chance to take a trip like this, do it! We had the best time & made memories that will last a lifetime.
Keep in mind, it’s not all glamorous. You’ll spend a lot of time sitting on trains, waiting in bus stations, & walking until your legs fall off, but it’s so worth it!
My last piece of advise, if you do travel abroad, is don’t fret. Things are not always going to go the way you planned, but you’ll always be able to figure it out. If you miss a train, you’ll find another one. If you take a bus going the wrong way (which we did), you might find something you didn’t plan on seeing or can just jump on the one going the other way! If the hotel ends up way different than you planned, just try to enjoy it for what it is. It’s easy to stress on a trip like this, but I promise you will enjoy it so much more if you just let things go!
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