How to plan and prepare for an extended trip to Europe

There’s much to do to plan an 11-week trip through five European countries and being organized makes your trip so much more enjoyable.  Here’s a fairly complete outline of how I did it.

First, I had to decide where I wanted to go.  I began planning in November 2021.  I read Rick Steve’s info, blogs, Lonely Planet, Fodor’s, ManinSeat61, and chat forums. I’ve watched lots of Anthony Bourdain, Rick S. and read fictional and historical fiction books based in Europe. Once I decided on the destinations I wanted to visit, I did more logistical research: Which places should be my home base and for how long; what day trips (via public transport, usually train) could I do from those bases; how would I get from point A to point B; which order of travel made sense; and then more micro research: What sites did I want to see in each place, etc. I chose the order of my travel based on the weather…warmer climate first (since I began April 2nd) and cooler climate last (since I flew home on June 20th)

Before I left home:

I made sure all of my bills were set up for electronic auto payment. 

A friend agreed to watch my cat and she fell in love with him.

I had my doctors call in 90-day supplies of my medications. 

I lined up a neighbor to do a weekly check of my condo and bring my mail in. 

I signed up for the STEP program: Alerts about what’s going on in the countries I would be visiting and they would have record of where I was. 

Made a timeline of when I had to purchase train reservations (especially for the scenic Switzerland trains), booked shuttle bus tours for the France Chateaus, transfers, ferry, other transport. 

I messaged the 21 accommodations to let them know of my approximate arrival time. 

I paid $100 extra per month to Verizon for 5 gigs of data, 250 talk minutes, and 1000 texts. 

I purchased trip insurance thru Squaremouth (a search engine to compare the insurances (Tin Leg is who I chose). 

Made photocopies of my passport/Charles Schwab debit card/driver’s license/Capital One credit card/extra debit card from home bank/extra Chase credit card for my backpack and checked bag and had photos of them on my phone and backed up to the cloud. Took photos of my passwords and stored in the cloud.

I’ve had four Covid shots (2 Pfizer/2 boosters)/made photocopies of them, took photos with my phone, and stored in cloud. 

Downloaded regions from Google maps that I’d be visiting for offline use onto my phone. 

Put my 40 page Itinerary onto my phone’s home page for easy access (packed a hard copy). 

I developed Google Map walking routes for 95% of the 40 destinations I’d be exploring and had them on my itinerary. I had the itinerary on my phone’s home page so that I could easily look at it and click on the route the morning of my walk.

Some of the apps I had on my phone: Rail Planner (train travel was made much easier with this), DB Navigator (great for knowing ahead of time which train platform), SBB Mobile (Switzerland) (for platforms), Free Now Taxi service (for Italy and France), Rome2Rio, Google Lens (which was already on my phone – came in handy for translating menus, instructions, etc.) An example is shown below of before and after…

Google Translate (I used this quite often), Libby and Kindle for audible and other books

I made folders on my phone home screen for the apps – Airlines, Lodging (Airbnb and, Embassies (Covid), Transport, Get Your Guide (for a couple of tours I was taking).

I’ll go over what I packed and shouldn’t have in another post.

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.