Are you ready for an adventure that will reshape your outlook on the world and live in your heart forever? Backpacking through Europe will help you achieve all that and more.
This is the best way to cover a lot of ground without eating up your entire life savings. What you will accumulate, however, is a host of new friends and a killer Instagram feed.
The preparation period before the trip is almost as exciting as the actual adventure – almost. So, let’s have some fun with our top tips on how to pack and how to make sure you’re fully mobile once you’re there.
1. Choose the Right Backpack
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when you start looking for the best backpack. First, you want it to be waterproof. Then, you want it to have some sort of internal framework. This will hug the backpack close to your body and help you balance substantial weight.
Another great feature is the ability to strap on exterior items like toiletry cases and the like. When it’s time to pack, be sure to pack the heaviest items in the center. This, too, will help you maintain balance.
2. Don’t Take Packing Lightly
Although lightness is the goal, it’s a fine line between saving space and lacking what you need. Likewise, overdoing it won’t make for a fun trip when your back is always sore. So, how do you strike the right balance? Approach it from a three-tier perspective.
Truthfully, you only want to pack one pair of pants. Wear the other. Same for shorts; only consider one to two pairs. Then, you can aim for five t-shirts and one long-sleeve shirt.
As for outerwear, there will only be room for one raincoat and one hoodie. You’ll be wearing your comfortable walking shoes. From there, you might want to toss in a pair of flips flops. Also, don’t forget a bathing suit. As for the underwear and socks, you can go with five of each, as well.
Travel size has never been better. You definitely want to go light here because you can always buy more once you make it to Europe. Only pack the essentials: shampoo, bar soap, toothbrush/toothpaste, feminine products.
In your toiletry kit, you’ll also want a basic medical kit. This should include: band-aids, antiseptic, and maybe a couple of condoms.
As for the essentials, leave anything home that’s of value. You might spend a night or two in a hostel with eight other beds or share a room in an Airbnb. So, don’t bring anything you’d be devastated to lose.
This leaves your passport, your visa (if required), airplane and train tickets, debit cards, and about $200 in cash. Don’t take any jewelry with you and, unfortunately, ladies, there won’t be any room for a hair dryer. Maybe you can sneak in a travel-size hair straightener, though!
3. Know the Train Schedules
When backpacking across Europe, traveling by train is your best option. Most of the countries in the European Union are tied to the Eurail pass or Interrail Global Pass. They’re both easy to master and can take you long distances.
The best way to save on accommodations and make the train schedule work for you is to plan your longest journeys overnight and sleep on the train. Next thing you know, you’re waking up in a new country.
4. Eat with the Locals
You probably already know to avoid tourist traps. But, this isn’t just about local monuments and highly trafficked areas. It also about when and where you eat. If you sniff out the placed where the locals eat, you’ll not only find restaurants that won’t break the bank but also savor some sweet time with the locals.
Try to embrace a tapas diet wherever you go. We don’t mean the style of the food but the portions of the food. Wherever you go, savor small plates with big flavors. Dabbling in small bites all across the continent means you’ll have sampled everything under the sun and protected your budget.
5. Book Hostels with Kitchens
This is another nice way to save on the cost of eating out. Try to book hostels that either have kitchens or offer free breakfast. This is a nice way to cook up a light meal made from the local ingredients you purchased at the farmer’s market.
Then, after you’ve eaten, you can hit up the town for a couple of drinks. But, you’ve just saved a nice chunk of money by eating in while traveling abroad. Plus, this is one of the best, most natural ways to get acquainted with fellow travelers!
6. Hide Your Valuables
Don’t hate the fanny pack. It’s a lifesaver when traveling. Sure, you don’t have to go for the actual fanny pack. Nowadays, they have sleek money belts that sit right above your belt loops. No one’s getting at that. You might also come upon hidden pockets in your backpack. Be sure to really bury anything of value that belongs in your pack.
7. Don’t Forget to Splurge
Sure, you’re not looking to weigh down your backpack or break your budget; but don’t forget to splurge. You won’t be backpacking in Europe for the rest of your life. Pick up a journal in Barcelona or a jewelry box in Paris.
Also, toward the end of your trip, when you see you’ve done well in the food and lodging department, splurge on a final night out on the town. Hit up that speakeasy in Paris; stay in that fancy Airbnb. The best part of backpacking is that, every once in a while, you can live the high life.
8. Travel In a Group
Solo travel is life-changing and it stays with you forever. You learn a multitude of lessons in a short span of time. However, there’s always strength in numbers. First, you’ll be safer from the errant pickpocket or shady hostel roommate.
Second, it’ll divide the duties that come with backpacking. If someone’s organized, they can be the planner and master of the train schedule. If someone’s a good cook, they can be in charge of kitchen duties at night in the hostel. It creates a nice balance.
Backpacking Through Europe Like a Champ
With these tips, you’ll be backpacking through Europe like a champ in no time at all. Your pack will be light but smartly packed. Your transportation options will be on lockdown, given your thorough knowledge of all the train lines.