One of the most exciting parts of traveling to Europe is the anticipation and planning before departure: Finding the perfect quaint hotel, booking restaurant reservations, making endless lists of each thing you want to see or do once you land, stalking Instagram for itinerary ideas. But all the planning in the world (or lack thereof) can quickly turn into a nightmare if you forget a few key things.
Whether you're a compulsive planner, an over-packer, or a free bird that loves to go with the flow, we all make mistakes when planning trips that could easily have been avoided. Even seasoned travelers sometimes forget the most basic things. Are you planning a trip to Europe? Don't stress it. Just leave your hairdryer behind and don't forget your travel adaptor—these are 11 of the most common mistakes people make when planning a trip to Europe.
Not making a copy of travel documents: Scanning a copy of your passport, ID cards, and any other important travel documents can be a lifesaver if you lose your passport or have it stolen. It makes the process of getting a new one at the embassy much easier.
Forgetting to take travel insurance: Sure, booking travel insurance isn't as fun as planning all the great restaurants you'll visit, but it's a necessary precaution that will save you a lot if you get injured or sick. Many credit cards offer travel insurance as part of their services, so check with your bank to see if you're already covered.
Overpacking the itinerary: It's understandable that you'd want to see Positano, Saint Tropez, and Lausanne all in one week—they're all beautiful places. But be mindful not to pack your itinerary with too many activities or destinations, or you'll never find time to truly experience local culture or even just relax. Doing less is often better.
Not considering multi-city tickets: It's easy to book a simple return flight and travel around in between, but multi-city tickets might allow you to fly home from your last destination, which can save you travel time and hassle. Often, they're not more expensive than regular tickets, so consider different route options.
Pre-booking every activity: It's normal to have a list of things you want to see and do while in Europe, but allow yourself some flexibility and don't book anything that doesn't require advance booking before getting there. Not only can you set yourself up for sightseeing burnout, but you might end up booking tickets you'll never actually use. Pick your advance bookings wisely.
Not making a rough itinerary: There are two types of people in this world. Those who, like above, love to plan and schedule everything in advance, and those who prefer going with the flow. If you fall in the latter camp, spend a little time before you leave researching what you want to see and do, and make a rough list. That way, you'll save yourself the disappointment of getting home and realizing you missed out on some great activities or restaurants.
Not doing your due diligence: Just as above, there tend to be two types of travelers, those who treat hotel rooms as a place to drop bags and sleep, and those who love great hotels. If you're only looking for basic accommodation, don't forget to do your due diligence. Read reviews before booking, and make sure the hotel is in an area that is convenient for you. Saving a few dollars to be stuck in terrible accommodations miles away from where you want to be is not worth it.
Blowing all your budget on hotel rooms: On the flip side, if you love to explore hot new boutique hotels, make sure you book a room you can actually afford. There is nothing worse than having no budget left for activities outside of your hotel room. Luckily, there are tons of fun affordable hotels in Europe that you'll love, just budget ahead of time.
Not getting a phone plan: Most U.S. cell phone companies have great phone plans for Europe, like AT&T's unlimited $10 a day plan, so don't forget to purchase one—and pick one that reflects your data usage. If you typically use 20GBs a month, 250MBs for a 10-day trip probably won't cut it.
Taking out Euros in advance: Not only can European currencies be more expensive stateside or at the airport's exchange bureaus, but you'll also run the risk of taking out more than you actually need. Taking out a small amount at an ATM once you land is the easiest way to ensure you're getting a good rate and not carrying a stack of cash with you everywhere.
Overpacking your suitcase: This is especially important if you're backpacking, but be mindful of how much stuff you're actually bringing on your trip. Chances are, you won't need 10 dresses and seven pairs of shoes. Packing heavily means you'll have to carry your clunky suitcase, unpack and repack everything multiple times, and possibly have to pay oversize baggage fees when you return. It's not worth it.
Don't Forget to Pack these Essentials
Next up: Chances are you're forgetting these 14 things when packing for a trip.