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Using the Slow Travel site to plan your trip to Europe

Pauline Kenny

How to use this web site to plan and book your trip to Europe.

Head to the bookstore

Get some guide books

First, and most important, go out and buy a few guide books for the countries where you plan to travel. Also for the regions within the countries (e.g. Tuscany in Italy). Read about the areas you think you want to see.

Get a general travel information book and some specialty books; a book about food, a book about hotels, a hiking book - whatever your interests are. Remember, you can't have too many guide books (Pauline's rule) and you don't have to take them all with you.

> Look over my list of recommended guide books for Europe (in this section) and for the countries you are going to (in the country section).

Get a good map

Most travel bookstores have the Michelin maps. Get the one with the most detail (for example a scale of 1:500,000 is much better than a scale of 1:1,000,000). If you can find regional maps with the scale 1:200,000, get them.

> Look over my list of recommended maps in each country section.

Get some books about life in Europe

Pick up a couple of "memoirs" about living in European countries, so you can read about daily life and get a feel for the country. Read about Americans or Brits living in Europe. Read regional cookbooks to learn about the food and cooking.

> Look over my list of recommended memoirs in each country section.

Go to www.slowtrav.com

Use this web site to plan your slow travel trip

Now it is time to go to the computer and do more research. We have lots of good information on this site:

> If you are new to Slow Travel, read the What is Slow Travel? section to see if this is the type of travel for you.

> Read Europe Trip Planning section to learn more. Then read the Planning section for each country you will visit.

> Go to the Vacation Rental Reviews section for the country you are planning for and read some of the reviews of places people have stayed.

> Go to the Vacation Rentals Listings section for the country you are planning for and start going through the listings of agencies and places to rent by owner.

> Read some of our Trip Reports to get an idea of what this type of travel is like.

> Go to the Message Board and read what other people are asking. Post any questions of your own. The moderators, and other Slow Travelers, will be happy to answer your questions.

Book your vacation rental

You are ready to start booking your trip. Book your vacation rental first. Places fill up ahead of time and if you have your heart set on a certain place, you may want to book your trip around its available dates.

> You may want to use a professional to help you plan and book your trip. Look at our list of Travel Consultants for Europe and look in the Planning sections for each country for consultants that specialize in the country.

> You may want to arrange for tours when you are in Europe. Look at our lists of Tour Guides in the Planning section of each country.

> If you liked the sound of any places from the Vacation Rental Reviews or Vacation Rental Listings, go to the web site for the place/agency.

This is a time-consuming step. Plan to spend several days looking at listings, making a short list, emailing agencies with questions. I print out the listings that I am considering. If you are booking for a group of people, email the URL for each listing to them, so they can have a look. When you have decided, book your vacation rental.

Book the rest of your trip

Now book the rest of your trip. Do you want to fly into one city and out of another and spend a few nights in hotels in each city? You may want to use a travel consultant to make things easier or you may want to do all your own bookings.

Prepare for Europe

Your trip is booked and now you need to figure out what you will do while you are there.

> Read the Instructions for Visitors sections to see how things work in each country - Driving, Food Shops, washing machines, and more.

> Read the Food/Restaurants sections to learn about how to use the restaurants. Read our Restaurant reviews.

> Read the Travel Notes sections to read about things to do in the different countries and some general travel information.

> If you are going to a non-English speaking country, now is the time to start learning some of the language. Check to see if we have Language Lessons in our Instructions for Visitors section. Go back to the bookstore and buy a language course.

Get your travel information organized

Prepare your travel information to take with you on the trip.

> Read my Trip Checklist - Things to Do before you leave on your trip.

> Decide which books to take. Print pages from web sites. Tear pages out of guidebooks, if you do not want to take the whole book. Make notes for each area you are going to.

You are on your way to Europe

Tell us about your trip

You are on your way.

> Take notes about the vacation rentals you stay in and submit your review so others can learn from your experience.

> Keep a journal for your trip and send us your trip report when you get home.

And have a great, slow, vacation!! Don't try to see everything - instead see fewer things in more detail. You can always do another trip to see the things you missed!

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