Are you ready to cross off a major European trip you’ve had on your bucket list for years? The options are truly only limited by your imagination. The secret to successful international travel lies in the advance planning details. Once you’ve honed in on our destination – let the fun of planning begin. Follow these recommendations from the travel gurus to ensure your trip is full of exciting memories that will last for decades to come.

The first step is to secure your passport. Allow for at least three months for passport renewals and applications for new passports to be processed. Keep in mind that most European countries require at least ninety days remaining prior to expiration after the date of departure on your round trip ticket. Unless you have a work or student Visa, most countries require a round trip ticket purchase. Applications for passports and appointments for submissions are available at most local post offices. Pay special attention to the requirements for passport applications for minors.

The best airfare deals to major European capitals are generally available departing from major east coast airport hubs. Take advantage of the awesome deals offered by Groupon Coupons and secure a coupon for airport parking reservations and save yourself some big bucks. Parking fees can add up without money saving coupons.

Check with your cell phone carrier to secure an international data plan.  Most providers offer a variety of data plans that are designed for short term trips abroad. Unlike most cities in the US, free public WiFi in Europe is not nearly as readily available. One option is to purchase a SIM card in each country. These are essentially prepaid data cards that are inserted in your phone. Make sure your current cell phone has a removable SIM card.

Order Euros from your local bank branch. Many smaller establishments in Europe do not accept credit cards. Local economies are much more cash driven than in the United States. While you can certainly exchange currencies at local train stations and airports, the exchange rate is generally more favorable in the United States. Allow at least two weeks for the delivery or your Euros.

Finally, it’s time to start packing. Several weeks prior to departure, invest in a pair of comfortable walking shoes.  Most major cities are very pedestrian friendly and you’ll no doubt be doing a lot of walking. Wear your shoes frequently before departing to ensure their comfort. Pack light. You’ll be carrying your luggage in and out of train stations, airports and hotels and will appreciate the light load. Bon voyage!