June 9, 2011

Our Euro Trip Planning Resources

When we travel, we expect to see as much as possible while getting as little sleep as possible.  Perhaps, when we're older, we'll feel the need to vacation to relax.  Hey, we didn't sit on a plane for 10+ hours just to sleep all day, we can sleep when we're dead!!

So, how do we decide what we're going to do, see, eat??  Well, we rely on a few sources when we travel in Europe.  First, and foremost, we have Rick Steves.  We love his books, blogs, videos, podcasts, and TV shows!  It took me a few tries to appreciate the formatting of his books, but once I got it down, the Rick Steves guides have became invaluable.  Rick Steves focuses on getting the most bang for your buck.  He has wonderful recommendations on day passes, transportation tips, and audio tours.  While in Rome, we did a few audio tours including the Colosseum audio tour.  The audio tour in combination with the Roma pass we purchased (based upon his recommendation), saved us major Euros on just one site!!  We also took Rick Steves' recommendation of making a reservation at the Vatican museum.  We walked past the hoards of tourists and walked right in the front door.  The security guys didn't even hassle us that we were over two hours early.  This simple tip saved us hours and hours of standing in a line that literally spanned blocks!  We share this tip with anyone headed to Rome!!

When looking for food, we almost exclusively use TripAdvisor for restaurant recommendations.  I leaving my own reviews on the site, too.  Stateside, Yelp is a good resource, but in Europe, TripAdvisor is much more consistent.  Rome is not known for having good food, but we managed to eat some of the most amazing meals in the city based on TripAdvisor reviews.  When in Madrid, we found the best Tapas bars and even the best churros and chocolate using TripAdvisor.  We've also used TripAdvisor for hotel and recreation recommendations on other trips as well.

How do we keep track of it all?  Well, we like using TripIt to organize reservations and monitor flight delays.  Eric travels for work, so I like having the TripIt app on my phone so I know when he's coming and going. :)  You can also send a link to your "trip" to a friend (or mom!) so that you know at least one person at home knows where you are in the world!!

What are travel tips?  I would love to add your recommendations to our arsenal!!

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