If you think Europe is out of reach, or reserved for long vacations, think again. In this post I’ll show you how to plan a long weekend in Europe with a little preparation and a limited budget.
I studied abroad in France while in college, and for a long time, I had great intentions of returning to Europe. But the whole European scene seemed like a giant undertaking – flying across the ocean, navigating new languages, diving head first into ancient cultures, expensive plane tickets, unfavorable exchange rates – it all seemed out of reach. It wasn’t going to be a relaxing getaway, a trip to Europe was a full-on serious adventure, not to be taken lightly.
I was always waiting for the “right time to go”, and this mindset was holding me back from visiting again…. or maybe I was afraid I wouldn’t want to leave once I got there. This cycle continued and I regrettably didn’t return to Europe for ten years, until I realized the 7 hour flight to Europe was the same cost as a 3 hours flight to Florida. Europe was suddenly accessible! Even for a long weekend getaway? YES!
Booking your Long Weekend in Europe
With the prevalence of low-cost European airlines like WOW air (currently $300 Boston > Paris)and Norwegian Air, (currently $279 Providence > Edinburg), I suddenly realized that Europe is closer and more affordable than I thought. We generally have no issue flying to Florida for a long weekend, so what’s a few extra hours in the air?
Europe is such a great place for a long weekend because everything is accessible and close by. There are so many vibrant cultures, foods, and languages packed into a small area. Generally each city is easily navigable by train or bus. Flights within Europe as also remarkably inexpensive. Once you land on the continent, you can choose a connecting flight or train to pretty much any destination for not much more.
Preparing for Europe
You need two things to properly prepare for your long weekend in Europe: save up some some cash for your trip, and get your passport. Beyond those essentials, you’ll want to pack smartly and efficiently.
Saving for experiences should be an ongoing habit. Anyone can passively save up an extra thousand dollars or more, simply by make a few adjustments to your budget, and your bank deposit settings. I go into detail about how to passively save for travel – $500 (or more) per month – in this post here. This cash isn’t just for fun money – when you buy yourself experiences, you are investing in yourself. A long weekend in Europe is no exception! Go ahead and dip into your adventure fund for this trip. 🙂
Passports can take a bit of time to get, so if this is a last minute getaway, you are not out of luck. There are services out there that will get you a rush passport in as little as one day! If you already have your passport, make sure it’s valid for at least 6 months beyond the last day of your trip, otherwise they might not let you on the plane!
Spend a little extra time considering what you’ll bring for this long weekend getaway. European style tends to be a little more dressy than American style, especially in metropolitan areas. Packing in a carryon only – ideally a backpack – is a smart idea, simply because you’ll only need 4 or 5 outfits, and lugging a suitcase across cobblestone isn’t an enjoyable experience. Check out my travel capsule wardrobe ideas in this post, and learn how to pack for any occasion in a carry on.
Choosing Where to Go
As a general rule, I plan my long weekend travels around non-stop flight deals – I don’t want to waste valuable time in layovers or changing planes. But that doesn’t mean you’re confined to only where these flights end up. Connecting flights and trains within Europe are very inexpensive. the expensive flight is usually the transatlantic crossing, and if you can find a deal on that, you’ll be all set once you’re on the continent.
For instance, Norwegian Air flies from Providence, RI to Dublin, Ireland for $324. Then you can connect from Dublin to England or Scotland by ferry, or a short $29 flight. In England, you can experience ancient castles and modern urban design all at once, even though Norwegian Air doesn’t fly Providence > England Directly.
Discount fares aren’t limited to western Europe. You can easily get a ticket from Boston to Athens in Greece on Turkish Airlines for $500, or Boston to Shanghai for $483 on American Air. While these are more lengthy plane rides, these destinations could easily become an inexpensive weeklong vacation, or a very ambition 4-day weekend.
Where will you go over your next long weekend? Leave your answers in the comments below!
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