Planning a Trip to Europe On a Week's Notice

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Just a few short months ago, I worked on a team that stayed so busy it was difficult to get even a day of vacation time approved.

As an incurable world traveler, I felt a bit like I was being suffocated: I didn’t see a light at the end of the busy season that would result in me or anyone on my team being able to get a consecutive week of vacation days, and my brand new passport’s complete lack of stamps was keeping me awake at night.

When the time came to prepare to start my new job in Nashville, I knew that I would need to work for several months there prior to taking any big trips abroad (to learn the new position and also not be that girl who pawns her work off on teammates and jets off to Europe before anyone even knows her name).

So I did what any sane globetrotter in my position would do: I put in 2 weeks notice at work and planned my start date at the new job for 3 and a half weeks out.

Where Should You Go?

Where you Really Want to Go.

Immediately after solidifying my 10-day window of time between jobs, I began doing everything imaginable to convince myself NOT to go to Europe. While I knew that Ireland was at the top of my list, planning a trip to Europe on a week's notice was a stretch even for me, and people who didn't already know that I'm a crazy traveler would certainly know it if I did this… so overall I was going to try to be more sane and go on a domestic trip instead.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

I priced domestic flights to a variety of cities, but many of the cities had expensive transportation concerns (for example, having to rent a car to get around) in addition to lack of hotel/hostel/air b&b availability which REALLY drove up the prices for stays.

After a couple of precious planning days spent putting together and pricing trips I didn't really want to go on, I decided to start planning the trip I DID want to go on, and see if I could make it work.

Short Notice? Just Commit. 

Ideally, we'd all know about international trips 3+ months in advance, we'd buy flights and stays at the best possible prices well ahead of time and we'd have months to leisurely research the destination and maybe even decide which attractions we wanted to see on which days (and even save up some money prior to embarking on the journey!)

But that just isn't how life works out.

County Clare, Ireland

County Clare, Ireland

Despite the short notice, despite the suspicions I'd be confirming in friends and family who were always concerned I was insane but now would have material proof... I committed to going to Ireland. I may be making the trip alone, and I may be staying in some rough hostels, but I was going.

On this particular trip, life worked out beautifully because one of my best friends had recently graduated college and wasn't tied down to the 9 to 5 schedule yet (read: she didn't have to worry about getting 10 days of vacation approved on a week's notice)... so naturally, I drug her along with me.

Is the Lack of a Complete Plan Stressing You Out?

I read and talk to and listen to a lot of other travelers, and they all like to discuss the reasons they travel. And one of the most important reasons I consistently hear is that traveling develops flexibility and open-mindedness.

When my friend jumped on board for this last minute trip, she threw out the idea of stopping over for a visit in Edinburgh. Naturally, flying into Scotland and out of Ireland raised the price of the flight a bit (since round trip in and out of Dublin is generally the cheapest Trans-Atlantic flight from the U.S.), but as soon as we had the idea in our heads we were determined to make it work.

Related Reading: Want to know more about multi-city international flights? Check out this post.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

As fate would have it, there were 3 nights available in one of my favorite hostels in the world in Edinburgh on the front end of our trip... and there were 3 nights available in the hostel I'd had my eye on in Dublin on the back end of our trip. For the 2 nights in between, we decided on a B&B in Cork... and our average price per night for the entire trip was $35.

Yes, you read that correctly. We made up for paying a premium on the flights with a price on stays that we'd be hard pressed to find anywhere in the U.S. on a week's notice.

If you're within a week of flying and you don't have a complete plan for your trip, that's ok - in fact, it is good practice. Stepping outside that comfort zone is good for you, and you'll feel yourself becoming less stressed by short notice or last minute trip changes the more you travel.

Thinking of Planning a Trip to Europe On a Week's Notice? Or Anywhere Else in the World? Stop Thinking and Go.

In my experience, you never regret the trips you go on. Only the ones you don't go on.

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

If you are lucky enough to find yourself with an unplanned window of time, I'd definitely recommend planning a trip to Europe on a week's notice. Or planning a trip anywhere in the world that has been on your mind. Things have a funny way of falling into place when you have the courage to take a leap.