The first step is to confirm your passport expiration dates. If you are applying for a new passport or renewing an existing passport, allow for at least two to three months processing times. Appointments to complete applications can be made at your local post office. Keep in mind that many European countries require at least ninety days remaining prior to expiration after the date of return on your round trip airline ticket. Unless you have a VISA to stay longer than ninety days, as a US citizen, you must purchase a roundtrip ticket. Keep this in mind as you begin preparations for your trip.
Next, check with your cell phone carrier on data packages that are available in the countries you have selected to visit. If you do not arrange for a plan in advance, even if available, daily data access charges can be prohibitively expensive. Another option is to purchase a SIM card in each country on your itinerary upon arrival. SIM cards are prepaid data cards that are exchanged for your existing SIM card in your smart phone. Confirm that your phone has the ability to accept an interchangeable data card. Purchasing SIM cards in each country is recommended to be your last choice as this can be very time consuming, expensive and cumbersome. Be aware that free WiFi hotspots are now nearly as common in Europe as in the United States.
Head to your local bank branch and order Euros. While credit cards are widely accepted in larger establishments and most hotel chains, many smaller vendors only accept cash. Europe is still much more of a cash economy than the United States. Exchange rates at your local bank will be much more favorable than those in the local train stations and airport Exchange Kiosks.
Finally, it’s time to book your flights and accommodations. Its strongly recommended to fly in and out of one of the major European capitals on the continent and make your country to country excursions from there. Take advantage of the awesome deals Groupon coupons offers through Priceline on airline rates, hotel accommodations and packages. Pack your best walking shoes as European cities are very pedestrian friendly and you’ll be racking up the miles on this great European adventure. Best of luck to you on planning for a trip that will be full of memories to last a lifetime!