My flight is just shy of a month away, and while my home stretch of college should be my main focus, admittedly, and understandably, my two month long European adventure has a way of consistently sneaking into the back of my thoughts on a daily basis.
These past months I have raided Pinterest, stalked various travel blogs, harassed my friends who have been abroad, and even went as far as to wear my 90L backpack (fully stocked and packed) around my house for “practice”.
Packing will need its whole own post, but there was plenty more to do other than figuring out the most sensible and essential items to bring across the pond. Lucky you I’m going to lay out, in my opinion, the most important tasks that should be considered above all else:
1) Book Your Flight.
Each day airfare increases. I waited 2 weeks after I made concrete plans for my Euro trip to buy my plane ticket and that put me back $70. Every penny is precious when you’re traveling on a budget! Book that flight stat.
2) Get Your Passport
The second you book your flight head to your local DMV. Passports are much quicker nowadays and generally only take a few weeks–mine arrived in about 15 days. No passport, though, means no Europe; no exceptions. I’m not a fan of leaving anything to chance.
3) Book Your Stays
Even if you want to do the hostel route (like me!) and go wherever the wind takes you–have a general idea where you’ll travel and book a hostel in those cities for safety. Most hostels only ask for a 24 hour cancelation notice to receive back your down payment; no harm, no foul. It would really put a damper on your trip if there isn’t a bed available at your desired hostel (a lot do book up! I ran into this issue and I was booking 4 months in advance!). Prices also increase day to day just like airfare– just not nearly as drastic. Download the Hostelworld app to your phone. It’ll be a life saver when you’re in a pinch.
4) Get A Backpack
Most people buy a giant pack only to use it a few times, if that. What do they do with their basically fresh off the shelf pack? They sell them at a gently used rate! A good place to start looking is craigslist. It’s an unreal deal. Take advantage of it.
5) Meet With Your Banker
Have a fancy credit/debit card that doesn’t charge a currency exchange processing fee with every use? No? Ask if you qualify and apply for one! Don’t want your accounts frozen while you’re traveling? Let your bank know about your upcoming travels.
Also, they’ll give you a ton of useful information should something happen to your card during your adventures. They’ll also tell you it’ll be more cost effective to convert your starting dollars to euros through them before you leave, as opposed to your destination airport where they hike up the conversion fees.
Those, in my humble opinion, should be the first items checked off your pre-departure list. Other than packing, they are probably what will cause you the most stress, so it will help you wonders to have them taken care of early on.