Backpacking Europe: Everything You Need To Know

Getting Started

1) Where To?

The first thing you need to figure out is where you want to go.  Different itineraries come with different price tags.  Are you doing a 2 week trip to London, Paris, and Rome or are you going on a 3 month adventure across Europe?

2) Your Budget

Figure out what kind of budget you need for the trip you want to do.  Do Google searches and read some travel blogs from people who have done this trip before you.

3) Get Your Gear

This is the fun part and when things start to get real.  Go to a travel store or one of the big box outdoor stores like MEC or REI to get what you need.  Most first time travelers buy way too much stuff so read up on what other people have on their pack lists.

4) Book It!

It's super easy to book your flights and hostels online yourself so don't stress over it.  Online booking engines like HostelWorld or Kayak allow you to look at results from all over the world and let you choose which ones are right for you.

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Is it safe?

Overall, traveling in Europe is as safe as when you're living your day to day life back home.  As long as you don't put yourself in stupid situations like walking down a dark alley late at night when you're drunk, you'll be fine.

Be aware of your surroundings and don't stand out by flashing your valuables around.

1) Safe for women?

Absolutely!  In fact, as you travel you'll come across many women who travel on their own and are having the time of their lives.  Again, it's just like walking the streets back home except those streets may be cobblestone and the people walking on them are speaking a different language.

2) Solo Travel

It can be a bit daunting traveling solo for the first time.  That is, up until you arrive at your first hostel.  You'll quickly find out that you're never truly "solo" because you'll always find people to go on adventures with at your hostel.

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Popular Trip Routes

Europe is made up of dozens of countries with hundreds of cities.  Unless you're traveling for more than 6 months, you'll have to narrow down your itinerary.

The most popular trip route takes you from London to Paris and then to Amsterdam and Rome but there are many other routes you can take.  If you want to stay away from the touristy route, try a route through eastern Europe.

An eastern Europe route will take you through Austria, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic.  You can always head southeast from there and add Balkan countries like Slovenia, Croatia and Montenegro to your leg as well.

Another popular route is through western Europe visiting Portugal, Spain and the south of France or you could head north and visit all the Nordic countries.

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Schengen Rules

The Schengen Agreement (shang-en) is a treaty designed to open borders between many European countries.  It's how you're able to move freely from country to country without going through border checkpoints.

There are, however, restrictions on your travel if you're traveling in Europe for more than 90 days.  The gist of the agreement is that you can only travel in participating countries for a maximum of 90 of every 180 days.

If you're visiting Europe for more than 90 days, make sure you read up about the Schengen agreement so you don't come across surprises later on in your travels.

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Trip planning made easy
The Euro Trip Kit is a great way to start planning your trip.
Inside you'll find a travel journal, adventure passport, language cards and a bunch of other great things to get you excited for your euro trip.
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Getting Around

1) Low Cost Airlines

With the monopoly of big airlines broken up in 1992, low cost airlines were born and the way to travel through Europe was forever changed.  Now, instead of a days long journey, you can fly to your next destination quickly and often cheaper than by train.

2) By Train

There's still that romantic notion about traveling by train and seeing the magnificent landscape go by as you go to your next destination.  The rail system through Europe is top notch as you can pretty much get anywhere by train.

3) By Bus

Not quite as romantic as the train but significantly cheaper is traveling by bus.  Many of today's buses are designed with comfort in mind and even offer free wifi.

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Hostel Life

One of the things that makes backpacking so great is staying in hostels.  They are a great place to meet likewise young travelers who are looking for adventure.

Many hostels offer activities like game nights, communal dinners, or pub crawls.  Hostels are the perfect place for solo travelers what with the friendly vibe, you're sure to connect with other people and share adventures together.

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Talk To Locals

Get out of the touristy areas and wander off to where the locals are.  You'll find many people in Europe speak English and, if they don't, you can always try to have an amusing game of charades with them.

Take the time to speak to the locals because, after all, they're going to know more about the city than anyone else.  They can show you the right restaurants to go to and the "real" city attractions to explore.

Free Walking Tours

Almost every major city in Europe have companies that offer free walking tours.  These tours are usually run by young students who are passionate about telling the story of their city and country.

The tours are probably the best way to explore and learn about the city as the guides will take you to unique places in the city while telling you all sorts of interesting stories.

As a note, while these are "free" walking tours, tips are encouraged at the end of the tour and a €5 tip is the standard.

Get Insurance

As a budget traveler, it's hard to fork out money for something that seems unnecessary.  I mean, what are the odds you're going to need the insurance, right?

Well, there are too many stories out there from travelers who had to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket because something bad happened on their trip and they didn't have travel insurance.

Think of it as paying for piece of mind.  If something bad does happen like a robbery or illness your trip won't be financially devastated.

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Where To Next?


More Europe

How To Plan Your First Euro Trip
How To Backpack Europe For Only $30 A Day
Beware The Schengen Agreement
9 Euro Trip Itineraries
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