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After four years of exploring Europe by car, by plane, and by train I feel like an expert. Don’t worry, I’m not. Trust me, I’m still learning. Road-tripping around Europe is exciting and fun but daunting and scary when you first arrive. It is literally “you don’t know, what you don’t know.” Most of us start out and don’t even know the right questions to ask and as all of our elementary teachers said… “there are NO bad questions.” They were right!
I’ve put together a blog to help you plan your next trip and hopefully cut down on a bit of anxiety ~
Planning your road trip
- How to get there? By car, by train, by plane
- This is usually determined by “length of travel time.” I do not like to spend A LOT of time getting to a destination. This is a bummer. So I know sometimes this is cost-prohibitive but sometimes you need to weigh out – time in the car, gas, traffic, etc. versus a train ride or flight.
- For example, it takes about 4 hours to drive to Eastern Bavaria and takes about 5 hours by train. Also when you travel by train get a nice break in Münich to stop for lunch and then you are off again. You can do this by car but it is not easy.
- Want to know more about SPECIAL train tickets with great deals all the time? Sign up for my monthly TRAIN CLASS – more info here
- Where to stay? Hotel, AirBnb, B&B. HomeAway… what…
- This can be the most daunting for us to book – I’ve seen people get STUCK HERE! Tours, exhibits, museums, Seqway tours, not a problem, but “where to stay!” That’s a toughy. The last thing you want to do is pay too much money for a flea-pit far from all the sites.
- BUT… we can also spend WAY too much time and energy on this one element. Itinerary
- If you use Booking.com be sure to check and READ the reviews as well as the payment methods
- ALWAYS look at the hotel/accommodation ADDRESS using GoogleMaps
- ALSO while you are in Google – check out the images of your property. IF your property has Google REVIEWS, this is one of the BEST places to find AWESOME reviews. I find them more helpful and accurate than TripAdvisor.
- Don’t plan too much – RULE of 3
- I plan one activity (tour, museum, site-seeing, etc) in the morning or two and then in the afternoon just flip it (one or two depending how I planned the morning)
- If you need more help when you are writing an itinerary – check out this BLOG!
- Waze – I love this app! It is not perfect but it is close in Europe. This live action traffic app has saved me more times than has led me down the weird, narrow roads that end up at a dead-end. If you monitor your settings for avoid major delays, you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches and it will list 3 different routes. I take a look at these to see, it might be more kilometers but less “sitting.”
What to pack?
Carin and I have decided to create a video to help you with what to pack – what not to pack as well. Being a full-time traveler while you are over here is not the same as traveling when we are going to the beach stateside, so here are a few tips I have learned and would love to pass on.
Know what you are allowed to bring on PLANE! Small luggage or checked baggage – find out the airline guidelines before you fly!
- DON’T OVER PACK! – just the essentials and a few things for flare
- Buy a small luggage
- Find clothes that roll up easily
- PACK all your 3 oz. liquids in a QUART size plastic BAG
- OUTFITS THAT ROLL UP
- AIRLINES ~ NO BIG BAGGAGE – BIG ADD-ON FEE – can be up to €100/way
- FEW ACCESSORIES, scarfs, jewelry
- ONE pair of shoes for 3-4 day tour, cobble stone
Here are also a few dresses I have bought that I really like – they roll up easy and they fit just about every person, in the winter, I wear these with leggings, jeans or khakis ~ also a suitcase saver. ~ available on Amazon.com
Most small airlines in Europe ONLY allow small luggage, so packing a BIG one would only cause you stress and anxiety and COST more money.
Along the way – REST STOPS
Rest Stops in Europe are quite different than they are in the States. They are sometimes an EVENT just to stop. They are so cool. Some of them even a little bizarre. In Europe you can find more than just a restaurant, hotel and gas at your convenient rest stop. Sometimes there is much, much more!
From full-service restaurants and hotels to just gas stations with snack bars. You’ll find it all here in Europe. Sometimes, you’ll also find a a pull-off with a hole. IF “IT” is an emergency they aren’t that bad ~ most of them.
A few things to remember when you stop!
- In Germany – have your €.50 or €.70 prepared and ready to go
- In Italy and France – typically they are FREE but they may not be as clean, nice or have many stalls (so you’ll have to wait)
In Italy ~ my favorite stops are the AutoGrills these rest stops are swanky and have full-service restaurants and are typically multi-level. They also are a grocery store, a gift shop, and have Italian treats you may want to stack up on before crossing the border! Autogrill has an app – you may want to download it before you head to Italy for ease and comfort knowing it will be a nice stop.
Restaurants at rest stops are full-service at most of them. Bring your appetite because most of these chains hire REAL CHEFs and compete against others to have the BEST one! My favorite 5* Rest Stop in Germany is Dinzler Kaffeehaus & Museum on the A8 in southern Bavaria. Be careful though, if you show up on Mother’s Day or any other holiday, you’ll need RESERVATIONS!
Another favorite with my peeps is the McCafe! I know most of us, including me swore of the BIG McD’s before heading over here. However, I will tell you the McCafe’s are really nice and have BIG ITALIAN coffee makers that make exceptional coffee without the wait. Most of these “little” cafe’s within the main restaurant offer smaller sweet treats that are similar to a german bakery too.
Roadtripping around Europe can be an incredible way to see this continent. I hope my little blog today has helped you prepare and be ready for quite a wonderful experience!
It’s always an adventure when you ©Travel with Wendy!
- How to get there? By car, by train, by plane