Super Useful Resources for Planning a Trip to Italy and Paris
**I wrote this blog post a couple of years ago, before I started this specific blog. I wanted to share it here because I know how overwhelming planning a trip to Europe can be. I hope you find it helpful!
Planning a 3-week trip to Italy and Paris takes a lot of effort! Especially for this high-strung planner. Don’t worry, I am leaving some wiggle room and am trying to remember to relax… I do want to make sure we have the logistics figured out, however, so we can fully enjoy ourselves once we are there! And while there is a great deal of research involved, the process can be fun and exciting!
Where we are going:
4 days in Paris and 2.5 weeks in Italy. Ahh, what is better than that? For this travel-lover, not a whole lot! So why Paris and Italy? Nate has always been intrigued with Italian history and I have been dying to go back ever since my study-abroad experience in Florence. Neither of us have been to Paris, so we figured it was a perfect place to visit for a few days on our way to Italy. It doesn’t hurt that our one-way tickets to Paris were only $350 each! We plan to visit Paris and then hop on over to Italy. We plan to visit Lake Como, Pisa, Florence, the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, the island of Ischia, and Rome.
Here is my list of super useful resources for planning a trip to Italy and Paris! I hope these can be of some use to you if you’re planning a trip abroad.
Super useful resources for planning a trip to Italy & paris:
Google Drive: Stay organized & collaborate
We have used Google Drive to keep all of our various documents organized, and more specifically, to plan the details of our trip. My Excel-loving hubby is the master of spreadsheets and this has been a great way for us to collaborate and not have a million different files of information.
We used Google Sheets to compile all of our flight options, to brainstorm activities for each city, and eventually to create our in-depth itinerary that helps us keep track of all of the buses, trains, and boats we need to catch. We will have access to this file via our phones, but will also have a printed version. We have also given a copy to our parents to make sure they know where we will be in case of an emergency (and because they are worried about us!).
Airbnb: Live like a local
We are staying in an Airbnb in five out of the six main locations we are visiting. I have always wanted to stay in an Airbnb, but Nate hasn’t been so sure about it. For some reason he was more game to try it out in Europe instead of the USA. After we looked at a few apartments and saw the awesome prices, we were hooked. I love the Airbnb app because you can easily look at pictures, verify the location is ideal, check out amenities, and communicate with the host.
Another reason I am really excited to try Airbnb is because I think it will help us feel more like locals. While I doubt we will totally be able to blend in with our broken Italian, I am hoping we will feel a little more settled than we would if we stayed in a hotel. I also love the fact that the Airbnb’s offer more room and a kitchen to cook in! So excited to meet more local people and to get to know some unique neighborhoods.
Pinterest: Visualize your trip before you go
Pinterest probably isn’t a new idea for any of you, but I have found it to be an exceptional tool for curating all of my travel dreams. I created a specific board for our time in Italy. That way I could keep track of all of my research and compile all of my ideas in one place. I love the visual aspect of Pinterest. It’s hard not to want to go everywhere! I have pinned tips on long flights, suggestions on packing light, and must-visit locations. Since I will have wi-fi while we are in Italy, I should even be able to access this board in case I need last minute ideas! And of course, I still use good ol’ Google for some research, but you can always pin that info right to you Pinterset boards for future reading!
Books: Go old school with your research
Rick Steve’s Italy (not going to lie, we used my version from 2007!), Let’s Go Europe (Again, 2009!), National Geographic’s Walking Paris. All of these books were either from my previous trip or from Half-Price Books. We aren’t bringing the big guide books with us, nor were we looking for specific recommendations on restaurants, hotels, etc. We mainly wanted big-picture information that reassured me we are going to see the big-ticket items. These books are usually too big to bring anyhow, but I enjoy using them as opposed to doing all of my research online.
Apps: Maps, language help, and good eats
We have downloaded a few apps to use while we are traveling. We may opt to not use them and just wander around, but it is nice to have a few on-hand in case we need help!
Trust me, I wish I was fluent in French and Italian, but that just isn’t the case. I’m hoping this app will help us get by in sticky situations and help us not be totally annoying to the locals!
A fun app I think I heard about on Pinterest. The app can be run without wifi – it takes up more than 1G of data, but I think it will be worth it! Highlighting all of the big cities in Italy, this app gives you info on what to see, where to eat and drink, where to play, and where to sleep. Their Experience portion provides fantastic information on city walks, tours and activities, and day trips! The app also includes the forecast and a few local words. The city walks provide info on each place you will visit as well as a helpful map! Super excited to use this!
Same story as above, but just focused on Paris! Since I know the least about Paris, I think this is going to come in handy. Can’t wait to find some hidden gems. And let’s be honest, hopefully not get lost in the middle of Paris!
Since we are literally only bringing carry-ons, we aren’t bringing our laptops. We are going to bring an iPad and my Olympus OM-D E-M10 camera, but I wasn’t sure how to back-up my photos! Thanks to good ol’ Google, I figured out that I could use a Lightning to SD Card Reader from Apple to upload my photos to the iPad and then use an online program to back up my photos. I did a bit of research and decided to try out Shoebox. Shoebox has unlimited storage for free – exactly what I am looking for. — One thing to note is that they do compress your photos. If your camera takes 14 megapixel photos, they will be slightly downsized to 10.6 megapixels. But based on what I read online, that is more than enough for standard printing of photos. And if you are using your handy-dandy iPhone for taking your photos, you don’t need to worry – most iPhones are taking 8 megapixel photos or less.
I am wanting to back up my photos in case something happened while we are away. Since this is pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime trip, I don’t want to take any chances!
TripAdvisor and Yelp:
I haven’t been using these a ton, but I have used them a little to check out a few specific restaurants, etc. Pretty standard apps these days, so I don’t think I need to go into them! :)
I’ve reached out to several friends to get their perspective and to hear their tips. Just remember, everyone has a different travel style. Some people can’t imagine packing in a carry-on, others can’t imagine not staying in a hostel. Listen to all of their ideas and pick and choose which advice works best for you!
I hope these resources have been helpful for you! If you have any questions, I would love to help you out! I will try to remember to provide any updates after our trip to let you know about how all of this research played out.