Before You Leave on Your First European Vacation - Final Checklist

Catch the Eurostar from Gare du Nord in Paris
••• Cate Gillon/Getty Images

All set? Well, there are probably a few things you need to do a days before you leave on your European vacation. Check this list to make sure you've got everything.

Flights and Accommodation - Check?

  • Do you have your flights and accommodation all booked? Check you haven't got your date wrong!
  • Is your name spelled exactly as it is on your passport? Some airlines will sting you for a 'name change fee'.

    Transport Between Cities

    • How are you getting between cities on your trip? Are you hiring a car? Have you checked the prices of rail travel? It might be cheaper.
    • Do you need a rail pass?

    Maps, Apps, and Tours

    • Are you planning on exploring all the cities by yourself or are you considering guided tours? Book your tours before you arrive on Viator. A walking tour on your first day is always a good option.
    • If you're going to explore by yourself, you will probably want a map. The tourist office in most cities will give you a map for free but you'll get a more detailed one if you buy in advance.
    • If you have a smartphone, remember to download your maps and apps before you go. Both Google Maps and HERE Maps have offline modes these days (so don't risk all the dubious 'free map apps on Google Play and the App Store - they are never any good). Google and HERE have different strengths - Google's maps are obviously better, but HERE's offline mode is more reliable, and you can download larger areas (you can download the whole of Europe with HERE! Not with Google.)

      Make Copies - Just in Case

      Just like you back up all your critical files on your computer, you'll want to make at least two photocopies of your itinerary, your passport information page (the one with your picture and passport number) and copies of your credit cards showing the numbers. Give one copy to your mom, or someone else you trust and can get a hold of any time of day or night.

      Keep a copy of your passport and credit card info with you but in a different place than the original items.

      Call Your Credit Card Companies

      A couple of days before you leave for your vacation, call the 800 number on the back of the credit cards you're taking with you. Make sure the credit card company knows you will be charging things in different countries on your vacation. Otherwise, your charges will very likely be refunded.

      Got Meds? Write down the details

      • Make sure have the medicines themselves, but also record the scientific name of the medicine. Just because a US doctor prescribes something with a generic name doesn't mean you can replace that medicine in Europe. If you know the scientific name of the drug you're taking, at least the name of the active ingredient, you have some chance of replacing a medicine you've forgotten, or need in an emergency.
      • Keep the list in a safe place and give a copy to someone.

      Pack

      • Get everything together in one place and start your packing. Eliminate anything heavy that you may not use. Remember, you're going to a place with lots of opportunities to buy what you need. See more  Packing Tips.
      • Check your carry-on baggage against your carrier's rules; some budget airlines allow smaller carry-ons than the big boys (Ryanair is a particular killer for that).

        Final Check

        Do you have everything? The basic stuff you need:

        • Passport
        • Tickets
        • Car rental agreements
        • Hotel reservation receipts
        • Credit cards
        • Chargers for your phone and other gadgets and electrical adapters.
        • Medications (and prescriptions, if required)
        • Addresses/password information
        • Clothes