When Americans go to Europe, they typically go to London, Paris, and if they’re feeling adventurous, Tuscany. However there is much more to Europe than just these hotspots. Many people we know say they have a better time in “second cities” than in capitals. I’m sure this is partly an expectations issue. For example, our expectations of cities like Paris tend to be so high, and our travel dreams don’t feature a subway that smells like pee, long lines at the Louvre, all those types of travel realities.
What if you want to do free ranging exploration? Young travelers will often get a rail pass to explore Europe, or go on a bus tour. Rail passes are slightly less good value now because of the abundance of budget airlines but are still definitely an option to consider (as are point to point rail tickets).
Organized bus tours are falling out of favor, especially with with millennials who want a more unique experience and have confidence in being able to arrange their own travel due to the internet. There are other ways to get around, ranging from cycling at the very inexpensive (but hard work) end, or if you’ve got the budget, then the increasingly popular option of a European river or Mediterranean cruise . The cruises take in some of the most historical cities like Prague, Budapest, and Nuremberg. Looking at the itineraries cruises use is a great way to think about what route you might like to take. The great thing about Europe is that traveling from country to country is like traveling from state to state in the US because the distances are much shorter. International travel by land (or water) is definitely a viable option.
When you’re thinking about going somewhere like Prague or Budapest, remember that these aren’t particularly exotic or intimidating destinations for Europeans and Brits. They are just normally cities. You’ll easy find a hotel and a Starbucks 😉 or the location equivalent. Even vegetarians shouldn’t have too many problems travelling in these regions. For example, Happy Cow has over 50 listings of vegetarian or vegetarian friendly restaurants in Prague.
If you still feel a bit unsure, what can you do to feel more confident? You could try the following: Talk to other people who’ve travelled extensively in Europe. If you plan to travel with kids, then talk to people who’ve done it with kids and check out family travel bloggers. If you’re planning a trip to London, Paris, or Florence, then why not add a few extra days to see somewhere this just slightly more adventurous. Somewhere in Eastern Europe would be a great option but you could also do a second city just in the main country you’re visiting. Using this method, you’re still spending most of your time somewhere you know you’ll like but can step outside your comfort zone just a bit. Once you’ve organized your own travel a few times you’ll most definitely become bitten by the travel bug.