If you are trying to plan a trip to Europe, you know it’s so exciting and equally overwhelming. There are so many destinations, activities, and places to stay that it can be hard to know even know where to start. From choosing the right cities and countries to explore to finding the best deals on flights and hotels, there are a lot of important decisions to make. But with some careful planning and research, you can create an unforgettable experience! Since we have experience in this department now, I put together our best tips to help you plan your dream trip to Europe. 

Before you start planning a trip to Europe, you should take some time to think about what your ideal trip would look like. Think about your interests, budget, and the amount of time you have to travel. Are there certain cities or countries you want to explore? Make sure you prioritize those must-visit, bucket list places! How much time will you spend in each place? Are there specific activities that you want to do? Knowing what you want out of your trip will make the planning process much easier and help you get the most out of your experience. 

When is the best time to plan a trip to Europe?

The answer to this question can vary, just because there are several things to consider. It all depends on a few different things, like weather, crowds, and seasonal events. So let’s talk about all these different factors to consider when you’re planning a trip to Europe!


One of the most important things to consider when you plan a trip to Europe is the weather. Europe is a continent with a range of climates, from the cold, snowy winters in the north to the warm, sunny Mediterranean climate in the south. So the weather doesn’t only depend on the time of year, it depends on the part of the country you’re traveling to. 

If you’re looking for a summer vacation with warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine, the months of June through August are typically the best time to visit. Just keep in mind that these months are also peak tourist season, which means that prices will be higher, and crowds will be larger. A lot of people prefer warm temps and sunshine!

If you prefer cooler weather and don’t mind the possibility of rain, the spring (April to May) and fall (September to October) are great times to plan a trip to Europe. The crowds are going to be thinner during those months, which means the prices are lower too. So spring and fall are actually ideal times to explore the cities and attractions at a more leisurely pace.


A big factor to consider when you’re planning your trip is the crowds. Like I mentioned, the summer months are peak tourist season. During that time, a lot of popular destinations get overcrowded. Overcrowding can make it really difficult to fully enjoy the experience, especially with kids since safety and staying together becomes more of an issue in larger crowds.

If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, go for those shoulder seasons of spring and fall. You’ll still be able to enjoy many of the same attractions, but without the crowds and long lines.

Seasonal Events

Europe is home to a lot of seasonal events throughout the year! These events can add a unique flavor to your trip. I would just suggest making sure you know what’s going on in the area before you visit so you don’t end up unintentionally being in the middle of an event you’re not interested in or that increases those crowd sizes too much for your liking.

If you’re interested in experiencing local culture and traditions, it’s worth researching the different events happening during your trip. For example, Oktoberfest in Germany, Carnival in Venice, and Christmas markets throughout Europe are just a few of the many events worth experiencing.

The ideal time to visit depends on your personal preferences, budget, and travel goals. By considering all these factors, you can narrow down the best time for your specific trip. My advice is to plan your trip in the shoulder season, when the weather is still pleasant, the crowds are thinner, and the prices are lower. Whatever time of year you choose, Europe is going to give you an unforgettable experience!

Top Tips for Finding Cheap Flights When You Plan a Trip to Europe

International flights are typically pretty high priced, so we have learned some tricks to get the cheapest flights possible. We know that when you’re traveling with kids and on a budget, you need to make sure you save in every way possible. Try these tips when you’re booking your flights for your trip to Europe!

Be Flexible with Dates and Destinations

Flexibility is key! The first and most important tip for finding cheap flights to Europe is to be flexible with your travel dates and destinations. Flights to popular cities like Paris, Rome, and London tend to be more expensive than flights to smaller or lesser-known destinations. Look into those lesser-known areas before booking your flights to those popular destinations. 

Also, flights during peak travel seasons like summer or Christmas holidays tend to be more expensive. By being flexible with your travel dates and destinations, you can usually find cheaper flights. If you can, be flexible down to the days of the week you want to travel on. Just switching your flight to a weekday rather than a weekend can save you money!

Use Flight Search Engines

We use flight search engines such as Skyscanner, Kayak, or Google Flights to compare prices across multiple airlines. This is really helpful! These search engines allow you to enter your travel dates and destinations and will show you a list of available flights from various airlines so you can compare. You can also set up price alerts to notify you when prices drop for a specific route or destination.

Book Early or Late

Booking your flights early or late might save you money! Airlines typically release their cheapest fares several months in advance, so booking early can usually save you money. On the flip side, sometimes airlines will also release last-minute deals to fill up unsold seats. If you’re flexible with your travel dates and destinations, waiting until the last minute to book your flight can sometimes result in a great deal. But it can also sometimes mean you pay more, so be careful with booking late. Booking late is sort of like one of those high risk, high rewards scenarios. 

Be Open to Layovers

Flights with layovers tend to be cheaper than direct flights, since they’re less convenient, so if you’re willing to have a layover, you can usually save money on flights. If you have the right attitude about layovers and do some planning ahead of time, they can be a great way to explore another city or country on your way to your final destination. Or even just explore what the airport has to offer. If you have travel credit cards, you may have access to special airport lounges that have awesome amenities. 

Sign Up for Airline Newsletters and Rewards Programs

Make sure you sign up for those airline newsletters and rewards programs! Airlines send out exclusive deals and discounts to their email subscribers and rewards program members. By signing up for these programs, you can be the first to know about deals and earn points towards future flights.


Did you know you can book flights for FREE? We flew to Paris as a family of 5 for just $18! Learn the exact step-by-step instructions of how we did it here.

Tips for Booking a Stay When You Plan a Trip to Europe 

Know your budget

Before you start looking for accommodations, it’s important to know how much you’re willing to spend. It just makes the whole process much easier because you can narrow down your search. Europe has a wide range of options, from hostels and budget hotels to five-star luxury hotels, and prices can be all over the place. Decide on a budget that works for you and search within your budget. 

Research the area 

This is one of the most important things to do when planning your travels, especially if you’re traveling with kids! It’s important to research the area where you’ll be staying to make sure it’s safe, convenient, and has everything you need. Consider factors like proximity to public transportation, restaurants, and attractions.

Read reviews

Reviews are the best look into what you’re going to experience. Look for reviews that mention cleanliness, location, and overall experience. Don’t just read the negative reviews or check how many stars overall the accommodations. Sometimes the negative reviews can be silly complaints. Scan over or fully read a large number of the reviews to get a more accurate picture. There will be pros and cons to every place you stay, so get other people’s opinions, but weigh out the pros and cons for your family to make your decision.

Consider alternative options 

While hotels are the most common choice for accommodations, there are other options to consider. Vacation rentals, hostels, and bed and breakfasts can be great alternatives, especially if you’re traveling on a budget. Of course, if you’re traveling with kids, safety is the most important factor, so do lots of research! 

Use booking websites 

There are so many booking websites available that can make the process of finding and booking accommodations easier. Websites like Booking.com, Expedia, and Airbnb can help you find the best deals and accommodations that fit your needs.

Check cancellation policies 

It’s always a good idea to check the cancellation policies of the accommodations you’re considering. This can help you avoid fees or penalties if your plans change. You never know what could happen, especially with kids, so it’s smart to be prepared.

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You can use travel credit cards to earn points towards flights, accommodations and more. Learn more about our top 6 favorite travel credit cards here!

The Art of Packing Light

As an expert traveler, I have traveled to Europe countless times and have learned the art of packing light. When it comes to packing for a trip to Europe, the key is to strike a balance between being prepared for different weather conditions and not overpacking. My family likes to travel light! We once spent 30 days in Europe with just a backpack for each of us. 

Start with a packing list

The first step to packing light is to create a packing list. This will help you to be more organized and ensure that you don’t forget anything important. Your packing list should include all the essential items you need for your trip. Things like clothes, toiletries, and any electronics you will be bringing with you are top priority.

Pack versatile clothing

When it comes to clothing, the key is to pack versatile items that you can mix and match. Stick to a neutral color palette that will allow you to easily combine different items. For example, a few pairs of jeans, t-shirts, and a sweater can be worn in different combinations to create several different outfits.

Consider the weather

Weather in Europe can vary a lot, depending on the season and the country you are visiting. Be sure to check the weather forecast for your destination and pack accordingly. If you are traveling in the summer, pack lightweight and breathable clothing with light layering options. In the winter, pack warm layers.

Choose comfortable shoes

Walking is one of the best ways to explore Europe, so it’s important to bring comfortable shoes. A pair of sneakers or some kind of comfortable walking shoes will be your best bet for exploring the cities and countryside.

Minimize toiletries

Toiletries can take up a lot of space in your luggage. It’s best to pack only what you need. Opt for travel-sized containers and consider leaving behind items that you can purchase at your destination, like shampoo and toothpaste.

Pack smart with electronics

Electronics can add a lot of weight to your luggage, so be strategic when packing them. Consider bringing a universal adapter instead of multiple adapters, and limit the number of devices you bring. If you plan to use your phone as a camera, leave your digital camera at home. But make sure you have a backup battery charger to keep your phone going!

Use packing cubes

Packing cubes are a great way to stay organized and maximize space in your bag. They allow you to easily separate your clothing and toiletries and can help you avoid overpacking.

I share even more details on what to pack for your Europe trip in this post.

Tips for Traveling within Europe

Plan your trip in advance

Europe is a huge continent with a lot of popular destinations. Planning your trip in advance can save you time, money, and stress. It also means you’ll get to see all the things you want to see. I recommend at least having a rough itinerary of the places you want to visit, how long you’ll stay, and the activities you plan to do. This way, you can make reservations in advance, avoid long lines, and enjoy discounted prices on flights, accommodations, and attractions.

Use public transportation

Europe has a big network of public transportation. Trains, buses, trams, and metros can take you almost anywhere within the continent. It’s best to purchase a Eurail pass or a local transport card, which can save you a lot of money and make your travels hassle-free.

Travel light

When traveling within Europe, it is advisable to pack light and carry only the essentials. This way, you can avoid excessive baggage fees, navigate crowded public transport with ease, and have more flexibility in your travels. It also helps when you’re traveling with kids to not have so much luggage to keep up with. That’s one of the reasons we opt for one backpack for each of us. Everyone can easily carry their own bags.

Stay in budget accommodations 

Europe has a wide range of accommodations, including luxury hotels, boutique apartments, and budget hostels. If you are on a budget, one of the best ways to save money is to stay in budget accommodations, since that’s usually one of the bigger expenses. There are plenty of budget accommodations that are comfortable, clean, and safe. Even hostels are a popular option for budget travelers with kids, many offer affordable dormitory rooms, communal spaces, and social activities. 

Explore local cuisine

Europe is renowned for its diverse and delicious food! Exploring local food is an great way to immerse yourself in the local culture. Visit local markets, cafes, and restaurants, and try the regional specialties, like pizza in Naples, croissants in Paris, or tapas in Spain. This way, you can have a unique culinary experience and discover new flavors and dishes.

Be aware of cultural differences

Europe has a really rich and diverse cultural heritage, and each country has its customs, traditions, and etiquette. It helps to do research on the country you plan to visit and be aware of the cultural differences. Things like dress codes in certain attractions, tipping customs, and social norms. This way, you can avoid offending locals and have an enjoyable trip!

Must-have Items to Bring on Your Dream Trip to Europe

Travel Documents

The first and most important item to pack is your travel documents. Think passport, visa, travel insurance policy, flight tickets, hotel reservations, and any other important documents you may need for your trip, plus your ID. It’s always a good idea to keep these documents organized and easily accessible in a travel wallet or pouch.

Comfortable Walking Shoes

Europe is a place that requires a lot of walking, whether you’re exploring historic cities or hiking in the countryside. So, it’s really important that you are comfortable! Bring comfortable walking shoes that are suitable for different terrains and weather conditions. You could choose sneakers, hiking boots, or sandals, depending on the type of trip you have planned and what you are most comfortable in.

Lightweight Clothes

When it comes to packing clothes for a trip to Europe, I think it’s best to stick to lightweight and versatile pieces that can be layered for different temperatures. Consider bringing a few basic t-shirts, a couple of long-sleeved shirts, a sweater or jacket, and a raincoat or umbrella. Remember neutral colors so you can mix and match to make more outfits. It’s also a good idea to pack a pair of jeans or pants and some comfortable shorts or skirts.

Power Bank and Adapters

In this digital age we need our phones to stay connected with family and friends back home and be able to navigate through new places. So it’s really important to bring a power bank and adapters to keep your devices charged and ready to go. This is especially true if you plan on using your phone as a camera! The electrical outlets in Europe are different from those in North America and other parts of the world, so make sure you have the right adapters for your devices.

First Aid Kit

A small first aid kit can come in handy in case of any unexpected injuries or illnesses, especially with kids! I always pack a “just in case” bag with all the things I’ve learned that are handy to have with you when traveling. You can read about what I put in our just in case bag here.

Travel Towel

A quick-drying travel towel is a nice item for any trip. It’s lightweight and compact, so it won’t take up much space in your luggage. You can use it for showers, swimming, or picnics in the park. This might be something useful depending on what attractions you’re going to visit.

Water Bottle

It’s a good idea to stay hydrated while you’re traveling, especially during hot summer days in Europe while you’re doing a lot of walking around outside. A reusable water bottle is an eco-friendly and cost-effective way to make sure everyone is drinking enough. Most European countries have tap water that is safe to drink, so you can refill your bottle as needed.


Europe is a beautiful continent full of stunning landscapes and iconic landmarks that you’ll want to capture and remember forever. A good quality camera can help you take beautiful photos and videos of your adventures. But if you want to keep your load light, just use your phone if you have a decent camera. Taking good photos with your phone is really more about technique than it is equipment! 

Must-have Apps to Download When You Plan a Trip to Europe

Google Maps

Google Maps is a must-have app for anyone traveling anywhere, and you’ll want it on your trip to Europe too. It allows you to navigate the streets easily, find nearby restaurants and other convenient places, and discover popular tourist attractions. 


If you’re planning on traveling to a country where you don’t speak the language, then Duolingo is the app for you. It’s a language learning app that uses games and quizzes to help you learn a new language. This is one you’ll want to start using before your trip so you can pick up a few simple words and phrases that will be handy during your travels.


Airbnb is a popular app for booking accommodations. It’s perfect for travelers who want to save money on hotels or experience a more authentic local experience. Airbnb accommodations always make you feel like more of a part of the community than a tourist. The app allows you to book apartments, houses, and rooms directly from the hosts, and it offers a wide range of options to suit every budget.


Rome2rio is a travel planning app that helps you find the best way to get from one place to another. You can get information on flights, trains, buses, and even car rentals from this app. It also gives you estimated travel times and costs, which makes it easier to plan your itinerary.

XE Currency

XE Currency is a currency converter app that allows you to convert over 180 currencies. It’s perfect for travelers who want to keep track of their expenses and avoid getting ripped off by currency exchange kiosks. Any help with currency is great because it can sometimes get confusing. Plus, the app works offline, so you can use it even if you don’t have an internet connection.


Citymapper is a public transportation app that covers over 40 cities worldwide. It gives you real-time information on bus, train, and subway schedules, and it even has bike and scooter rental options. This app really helps you navigate cities easily!


TripIt is a travel itinerary app that helps you keep all your travel plans organized in one place. It automatically compiles all your flight, hotel, and rental car information into one easy-to-read itinerary so you don’t have to keep up with a ton of different things, which gets confusing and overwhelming.  You can also share your itinerary with friends and family!

Google Translate

For those phrases you didn’t quite commit to memory from Duolingo before you set out on your travels, Google Translate is a must-have app for any international traveler. It allows you to translate text, speech, and even images in over 100 languages. It even has an offline mode so you can use it if you don’t have an internet connection.

Culture Trip

Culture Trip is a travel inspiration app that provides recommendations for things to do, see, and eat in over 300 destinations worldwide. This is a really cool app that helps you find all the things you didn’t know you needed gto see. It offers personalized recommendations based on your interests and insider tips from locals and experts too!

Plan a Trip to Europe: Dream Trip Itinerary #1:

As a travel expert, I recommend starting with this itinerary because it hits some of the most popular destinations in Europe for first-timers. Following an already planned for you itinerary is a huge help the first time you plan a trip to Europe!

Day 1-3: London, England

Fly into London and spend your first few days exploring the iconic city. Start by visiting landmarks like Big Ben, the Tower of London, and Buckingham Palace. Then stroll through Hyde Park, take a ride on the London Eye, and indulge in some shopping on the famous Oxford Street. Don’t forget to sample some traditional English pub fare and a pint of ale. That’s a definite must!

Day 4-6: Paris, France

First, hop on the Eurostar train and head to Paris, the City of Light. Spend a few days exploring famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, and Notre Dame. Walk along the Seine River and visit the beautiful and charming Montmartre neighborhood. Don’t forget to indulge in some world-class French cuisine, from croissants to escargot and everything in between.

Day 7-8: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Start by taking a train to the beautiful Amsterdam. Amsterdam is a charming city known for its picturesque canals and beautiful architecture. Explore the Anne Frank House, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Rijksmuseum. Then rent a bike and cycle through the city’s quaint neighborhoods. Make sure you stop to enjoy the famous Dutch pancakes or stroopwafels.

Day 9-10: Berlin, Germany

Take a train to head to Berlin and spend a few days exploring Germany’s capital. It’s a vibrant city that is home to a lot of great must-see attractions! Visit the Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Wall, and Checkpoint Charlie. Explore the trendy neighborhoods of Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain, and sample some of Berlin’s famous street food. Definitely don’t skip the street food!

Day 11-12: Vienna, Austria

Up next, hop on a train and head to Vienna, the capital of Austria. Spend a day exploring the stunning Schönbrunn Palace, the famous Opera House, and the St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Don’t forget to try some delicious Viennese coffee and pastries, and take in the city’s history and culture.

Day 13-14: Venice, Italy

Take a train to Venice. This city is built on water and known for its romantic canals and stunning architecture. Explore the Piazza San Marco, take a gondola ride along the canals, and indulge in some of Italy’s finest cuisine. Don’t forget to visit the stunning Venetian glass factories. This is a truly gorgeous city!

Day 15-16: Rome, Italy

Take a train to Rome. Known as the eternal city, there’s so much to see here! Spend your last two days exploring famous landmarks like the Colosseum, the Vatican, and the Pantheon. Stop for some traditional Italian gelato and pizza, and soak up the city’s rich history and culture.

Day 17: Departure

Fly out of Rome, or take a train to another European city to continue your adventures.

This itinerary covers some of the most iconic and popular destinations in Europe! You’ll be able to experience the best of each city. Of course, there are countless other destinations to explore in Europe, so feel free to customize this itinerary to suit your interests and preferences while planning your trip to Europe.

Plan a Trip to Europe: Dream Trip Itinerary #2:

Here is an alternative itinerary to help you plan a trip to Europe that you’ll never forget!

Day 1-3: London, England

Start your trip in London, one of the most iconic cities in Europe. Spend the first three days exploring the city’s landmarks. Places like the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, the British Museum, and St. Paul’s Cathedral are can’t miss attractions! Take a ride on the London Eye to enjoy panoramic views of the city.

Day 4-5: Paris, France

Take a train from London to Paris and spend the next two days in the City of Love. There you can visit the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, and Notre-Dame Cathedral. Explore the charming neighborhoods of Montmartre and the Marais, and savor French cuisine in one of the city’s many bistros.

Day 6-7: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Next, take a train from Paris to Amsterdam and spend two days in the Dutch capital. Visit the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House, and the Rijksmuseum. Enjoy the city’s vibrant nightlife and take a boat tour through the canals. 

Day 8-10: Berlin, Germany

Take a train from Amsterdam to Berlin and spend the next three days in the German capital. Visit the Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg Gate, and the Reichstag building. Enjoy the city’s art and music scene, and enjoy some traditional German cuisine.

Day 11-12: Rome, Italy

Take a flight from Berlin to Rome and spend the next two days in the Eternal City. Visit the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Vatican Museums. Eat Italian cuisine in one of the city’s many trattorias and gelaterias.

Day 13-14: Barcelona, Spain

Finally, take a flight from Rome to Barcelona and spend the last two days of your trip in the Catalan capital. Visit the Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, and the Gothic Quarter. Savor Spanish tapas and wine, and soak up the city’s vibrant energy.

Plan a Trip to Europe: Dream Trip Itinerary #3:

Finally, a third option to help you plan a trip to Europe that ensures you don’t miss any of the most important things!

Day 1-3: Paris, France

Begin your European adventure in the City of Love. Spend the first three days exploring the famous landmarks of Paris. See the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, and Notre-Dame Cathedral. Take a stroll through the streets of Montmartre and enjoy a croissant and café au lait in one of the cute cafes. Be sure to also visit the Palace of Versailles, just a short train ride away from Paris.

Day 4-5: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Next up, take a train from Paris to Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands. Enjoy a canal tour and admire the beautiful architecture of the city. Explore the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House. Don’t miss taking a bike ride through Vondelpark, and indulge in some stroopwafels (traditional Dutch waffles).

Day 6-7: Berlin, Germany

Head to Berlin next, the capital of Germany. Explore the rich history of the city at the Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg Gate, and Checkpoint Charlie. Visit Museum Island and the Berlin Cathedral. Enjoy some traditional German food and beer at one of the many local restaurants and breweries.

Day 8-9: Prague, Czech Republic

Take a train from Berlin to Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. There’s so much to see here! Take in the stunning architecture of the city, including the famous Charles Bridge and the Prague Castle. Visit the Old Town Square and the Astronomical Clock. Take a tour of the Jewish Quarter and enjoy a traditional Czech meal with a Pilsner beer.

Day 10-12: Vienna, Austria

Travel to Vienna, the capital of Austria. Visit the amazing Schönbrunn Palace and the Hofburg Palace. Enjoy a classical music concert at one of the many venues around the city. Take a stroll through the historic city center and indulge in some traditional Viennese pastries like Sachertorte or Apfelstrudel.

Day 13-14: Rome, Italy

Fly to the capital of Italy. Spend the last two days exploring Rome. See the ancient ruins of the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. Visit the Vatican City and the Sistine Chapel. Take a stroll through the charming streets of Trastevere and don’t forget to stop and enjoy some authentic Italian gelato.

This 14-day itinerary offers a great introduction to the culture, history, and cuisine of Europe. Don’t forget your comfortable walking shoes, a camera, and an open mind for an adventurous spirit!

I hope this guide has helped you plan a trip to Europe that will be an unforgettable memory for you and your family!

Check out more travel tips and guides:

How to Maximize Your Vacation Time This Year

14 Tips to Beat Jet Lag with Kids

16 Budget Friendly Travel Tips You Need to Know

The Best Travel Containers for Toiletries