How to Plan an International Sisters' Trip
Sisters make the best travel buddies.
Whether you love experiencing different cultures or just want time away from the real world, traveling is most likely on your bucket list. The first step to planning a trip is finding companions (Although, we are also huge advocates of solo travel). Your S.O. makes a great travel buddy, but nothing beats going on an adventure with your day one — your sister! I'm lucky that I have two of them, and we went on a European trip of a lifetime. Keep reading for tips on how to plan your own sisters' getaway.
Pick a Destination
Maybe you already have a destination in mind, but if not, pick based on friends' recommendations or flight deals. My sisters and I found a reasonable roundtrip flight to Barcelona from TheFlightDeal.com, but you can also sign up for Google flight alerts. We booked immediately and then picked the rest of our destinations (cities in Spain and Italy) from there.
Book Flights and Trains Now
If you've been to Europe, you know budget flights are available from country to country. Budget airlines like Ryanair, Vueling and easyJet offer plenty of flights. Plan out a rough itinerary of the cities you're traveling to, so you can book these flights ahead of time since budget airlines only travel on certain days. If your destinations are close to each other, trains are the best option. We booked our trains in Spain and Italy day of, but check availability before your trip in case your destinations don't offer as many options. Tip: Give yourself plenty of time at the train station — especially if you don't speak the language. We may have missed a train or two...
Plan the Big Stuff Ahead of Time
As soon as you book your flight and pick your destinations, book accommodations. This way, you'll have more options to choose from, meaning cheaper rates. My sisters and I assigned each other a city to book a place to stay. This way, it prevented one person from doing all the planning, and we each got what we wanted. Next, book the big attractions. Talk to friends who've been to the cities you're visiting to see which ones are a must-see and which ones may be underwhelming. Book tickets as soon as possible — you'll be surprised how soon they sell out. For example, we tried to visit La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, but the wait was three hours long without a pre-purchased ticket.
A few weeks before our trip, we booked a private cooking class in Rome based on friends' recommendations. Withlocals.com connects you with a local host, so you can experience the city like a local. Our host, Roberto, taught us how to make pasta from scratch and ciambelle, an Italian doughnut made (and dipped!) with wine.
Get a Little Lost
Once you've planned out the important stuff, relax and go with the flow! That's the whole point of vacation, and who better to relax with than the people you're most comfortable with? My sisters and I didn't plan our day-to-day, and that was the best decision we made.
Without getting lost (We were literally lost half the time!), we wouldn't have stumbled upon a string quartet in Venice, the most delicious chocolate candy in Madrid or a tiny local bakery during our Cinque Terre hike. Tip: Most cities offer free walking tours (donations accepted). It's a great way to learn about the city you're visiting and to meet other travelers. We enjoyed our first tour so much, we booked one in every city — and two in Barcelona, including my favorite, the Gaudi architecture tour.