Smart Travel

We’re Going To Europe! Part 1: Planning

*girly squeal*

It’s happening, guys. We are going to Europe for 36 days. Right now we are just in the beginning planning stages and we couldn’t be more excited! He’s what we’ve planned so far.

A month in Europe

Originally, we asked for two months off from work to roam Europe. Our bosses were like, “Um…no.” BUT…they approved a month. We got our time off approved over a year before our trip. Heads up, if you’re planning on being off of work that long, you need to run it by your supervisor, your supervisor’s supervisor and the human resources department. You will need to determine if you will have enough paid time off for your trip, or, if you need to go into “PTO debt.” Not every work place is cool with you borrowing unearned PTO, but it’s definitely worth asking. My husband and I will be working our butts off to get everything prepared before we leave. It’s practically a leave of absence, and we are so blessed to have jobs that allow us to do this.

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Budgeting for Europe

We have been saving up for our trip for 3 years. We’re saving slow and steady. Before we make any big financial decisions we talk about Europe. Recently, we both received raises at work (YAY!). Instead of spending that money, we are putting the difference directly into our savings account. (You can’t miss what you never had!) We also opted in for the “save as you go” plan with Wells Fargo, so a percentage of each purchase we make on our debit card goes into savings. Saving can be painful. We often say, “Do we want dinner in Aurora, Colorado or an ice cream cone in Paris, France?” From what I’ve researched, the prices are comparable.

Where to go in Europe for the first time

Good golly, Miss Molly. If you think finding the perfect pair of jeans is hard, just imagine selecting a few countries in all of Europe to see for the first time. We did a lot of research. At first, we had mapped out 10 countries that we were interested in but then decided to cut it down to 5 countries so we could have a week in each. We ultimately decided on the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Greece, Italy and France based on our interests. We are hoping to take another two week long trip to Spain and Portugal in a few years. Then another to Ireland and the UK, and another to Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland, and so on.

Planning activities in Europe

Side note: Atlas Obscura is the greatest thing ever.  For each city that we were interested in, we started with Atlas Obscura, then Lonely Planet, then Trip Advisor. We’re tourists, but we want to see the off-the-beaten path attractions as well. We asked friends and family who had been to Europe to rank the attractions in each country, which narrowed down our list. Then, we looked into each and every attraction, writing down the hours, location and cost. We were able to create a timeline in each country based on our research.

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European transportation

Right now, we are trying to figure out how to get from point A to point B. We originally thought we’d get a rental car because we want to go to obscure towns outside of the big cities. We’ve been told that’s a bad idea…so we’re looking into trains.

We will soon be purchasing our tickets for the flight and for major attractions.


A few questions for you, my fellow European travelers:

How would you recommend we get from Amsterdam to Giethoorn?

I want to take great photos, but don’t want to carry my huge Nikon everywhere. Do you have a small, good quality camera you’d recommend?

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Thanks for reading,


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0 thoughts on “We’re Going To Europe! Part 1: Planning

  1. Not sure why it was advised to you that its a bad idea for rental to get to the small villages and towns in Europe. Its the best way!
    Personally having lived in Europe (Amsterdam) for 3 years, the rail may be good between large cities but not as serviceable to smaller ones because of the transfers and frequency. In the first year we lived in Amsterdam we did not drive and experienced all that we could with trains… Giethoorn for example is just an hour’s drive from Amsterdam but will easily take you 3 hours just to get there by train! Perhaps its better now… but we won’t bet on it.

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