“Yourotrip:” How To Personalize Your European Excursion

Whether for your graduation gift, gap year, career change, study abroad, or a bachelor party, the trendy way to celebrate has become a trip to Europe! I’m all about it - I love any excuse to hop on a flight and lose myself in another part of the world for some time. But planning said vacation can seem like a daunting task. Where will you stay? Hostel, hotel, Airbnb? Should you take a train between countries and soak in the scenery? Or let EasyJet whisk you away in a flash of orange uniforms and complimentary snacks. Which museums are a must, and which ones will take a backseat? And what about meals? Cafés, bistros, and open-air markets, oh my! Realistically, there just isn’t enough time to do and see everything. The “To Do” and “To-See” lists are endless. Planning your European vacation is quite an undertaking. It’s time to strategize and prioritize. 

Take a minute, or an afternoon, and decide which items on your “To See” list are nonnegotiable. Separate the yes', maybes, and next-times. My favorite way to get a feel for a city is good old-fashioned guidebooks. I love books; they are my number one resource for everything. I know we have this awesome thing called The Internet, so feel free to surf the web for travel suggestions online. Blogs are an incredible way to get firsthand accounts, honest opinions, and insider tips. Check out The Global American’s other articles for tips and ideas from millennial travel experts! 

You’ll need to tailor your list to the length of time of your stay. Don’t let your sightseeing vacation become a to-do list of obligations to check off. I find it to be one of the saddest things when people say, “Well, we have to climb the Eiffel Tower so we can say we did it.” Simply having a spread of baguette, Brie, and good French champagne on the grass by the tower, while soaking in the Parisian ambiance can be more rewarding. I personally think so; and that’s exactly what I did on my 21st birthday with my friends and family. I lived in Paris for almost five months and never climbed the tower. I’m sure I will at some point, but that was on my “next time” list of priorities. My point is, OWN your trip. Make your itinerary for you. Don’t fall into the trap of following someone else’s checklist of sights to see. 

Another biggie: leave time for improv! Don’t plan yourself into a corner. My favorite part of traveling has been waking up, walking out the door, and seeing where the day takes me. I saw Milan entirely without an itinerary, a map, or a plan. I had a vague idea of the city’s layout and a wish to see the great cathedral, and that was enough! We walked out of our Airbnb, hit the streets, and followed the smell of pizza. It was one of my favorite days in Italy. I highly suggest leaving one day to simply wander and explore wherever the cobblestone streets may lead you.

Traveling requires stamina, so know yourself and know your limits! The point of your vacation is to enjoy yourself. So don’t make unrealistic attempts to do and see everything. You’ll burn yourself out and no amount of European espresso will be able to bring you back to life. 

This brings me to another important aspect of international travel: jetlag. Take it from a true jetlag junkie: when the jetlag hits, you feel the pain. The best way to avoid, or at least minimize, the time spent battling with your heavy eyelids is to push through the first day. Do not nap! Do not indulge your foggy brain and bleary eyes. Skip the vinchaud (just for now) and order a round, or five, of espressos for your group. Once the jetlag has cleared, you’ll be ready to roll and start on that personalized travel checklist. 

When you move past the logistics, souvenirs, and photo ops, your vacation is above all else, a time to relax and enjoy. So make that your top priority! The Mona Lisa is pretty underwhelming anyways, and she’ll always be there. (I’m sure I’ll get backlash for that closing statement). However you choose to use your time abroad, just remember that it is your time, so spend and/or waste it accordingly. Bon voyage et profitez bien!