In Europe, there’s something for everyone. Culture, cuisine, fashion, history, art, and architecture all meet in one conveniently connected continent. You can enjoy world-famous cities, quaint towns, picturesque rivers and vineyards, and a variety of festivals.
With so much to do, Europe is undoubtedly a backpacker’s paradise. The trouble is, it could end up costing you a small fortune. These nine tips will help you make backpacking across Europe affordable and enjoyable.
Table of Contents
1. Plan Your Trip Ahead of Time
While planning a trip on a whim can be exciting, you will likely spend a lot more money if you wait until the last minute to make your reservations. That is especially true when traveling to destinations that attract many tourists. The early birds are likely to snatch up the good deals, leaving you with high priced hotel rooms or lodging options.
Therefore, you should follow the experts’ advice and start making your reservations six months ahead of time. Most tours can also be booked in advance, which will ensure that you won’t miss out on your favorite landmarks.
Advanced planning also gives you time to learn some essential phrases in the languages spoken in your destinations. There’s no need to become a linguist to backpack through Europe, but learning words or expressions in the local tongue will enhance your journey.
2. Get the Right Gear
As you can imagine, an essential item you will need to purchase for your trip is a backpack. You will be wearing it for extended hours, so it should be comfortable. Also, it must be sturdy and able to withstand rain.
If you plan on using your backpack frequently, it will eventually get damaged. Therefore, try to invest in a model that comes with a lifetime warranty.
Another essential tool that all backpackers should have is a good map. Since you may not have the chance to charge your cell phone as often as you would like, a map can save you from wandering around lost in the wrong part of town.
These days, simple, pocket-sized maps are your best bet! That’s why z fold maps are more beneficial. Try to carry one for the cities or countries in which you will spend the most time.
3. Choose the Season Carefully
In summer, European cities are full of national and international tourists. In fact, in countries like Spain, many locals take their annual vacation in August. That means that a lot of the lodging is booked up, and beaches are at full capacity.
If you want to bypass the crowds, plan your trip in autumn. Most European countries are still clinging to their summer weather, but the tourists have gone home.
4. Compare Transportation Costs
If you want the complete backpacker’s experience, you likely plan on taking the train. However, that isn’t always the cheapest way to get around in Europe.
Many discount airlines operate in Europe, sometimes offering flights for under €10. Of course, if you need to check a bag, the deal won’t be as sweet. Nevertheless, sales like these are often much cheaper than a rail pass.
5. Research Accommodation
Accommodation tends to be one of the largest expenses when backpacking through Europe, especially if you plan a long trip. If you are willing to adapt, however, you can save hundreds of euros.
Most backpackers opt for hostels, which can be as cheap as €10 per night for a bed in a shared room. If you aren’t comfortable sharing a room with strangers, you can always look for Airbnbs or Groupons for hotels.
6. Eat like the Locals
Surely you want to try pasta in Italy, paella in Spain, and fish and chips in the U.K. Before going to just any restaurant in the touristy area of the city, check the online reviews. This will give you an idea if the restaurant is serving locals or mostly foreigners.
Restaurants that cater to locals are often much more affordable and authentic. You’ll get a genuine dining experience, without paying ridiculous prices.
If you aren’t quite sure what restaurant the locals go to, why not ask someone? Your tour guide or the receptionist at the hostel would be glad to tell you their favorite spot to have lunch.
7. Take the Road Less Traveled
One mistake that travelers often make is going where everyone else goes. Sure, you should definitely visit the Eifel Tower or Big Ben, but when it comes to dining and lodging, lean towards the outskirts of the city or the countryside.
You will likely find that local people will be much more helpful and kind in areas where there is not a lot of tourism. Not only that, they will be happier to take the time to engage in conversation, perhaps even answer questions about their culture or history.
8. Don’t Move Too Fast
It may be fun to wake up in Dublin one morning, have lunch in London, and fall asleep in Paris. However, rushing through cities to check them off your bucket list will cause you to miss out on the places you visit.
Instead of jamming a million destinations into one trip, try to spend at least three or four days in each. Doing so will ensure that you have time to see everything you wanted and make authentic memories.
9. Stay Safe
When backpacking around Europe, you will likely spend most of your time carrying your possessions with you. Thus, you will want to take some precautions to avoid getting robbed.
First of all, never flash your items on the street. It’s okay to use your new iPhone or pricey camera in public, but be careful about setting it down on the table or having it strung around your neck. It is always a good idea to put your belongings away when you aren’t using them.
When using public transportation or walking in a crowded area, wear your backpack in the front, not the back. That way, you’ll be able to keep an eye on all the zippers and pockets.
Lastly, always carry a copy of your passport in your pocket or wallet. Plus, it’s smart to have a scanned copy backed up somewhere on your phone or in your email account. If you lose your backpack or it gets stolen, you will still have a form of identification.
Put to Use Your Backpacking Across Europe Tips
It is often said that you live your journey three times: when you dream about it, when you experience it, and when you remember it. With these Europe travel tips, you can plan a trip that will bring you lasting memories!
If you would like more information to help you plan your backpacking across Europe trip, check out more of our articles!