One of the best things about travel is the freedom it brings and the opportunity it presents to see and experience new things and places. There is something pretty liberating about touring a country with all of your belongings on your back and the great thing is, you don’t even need to go far. There are a lot of amazing places just a short flight away, whether you’re after quaint little villages, amazing scenery, seriously impressive landmarks, or bloody good food, Europe has it all. Backpacking is amazing fun, but does require a small bit of organisation – here are a few tips and tricks to ensure your trip runs as smoothly as possible!
First things first, packing. You might be backpacking for a week, a month or even a year, but you must remember that whatever you pack, you will need to carry from place to place, sometimes walking to find hostels or hotels. Packing light is definitely easier said than done, especially when you’re travelling for a long period of time, but making a list of the essentials and not being tempted to add that extra pair of shoes or t-shirt will almost definitely pay off on your trip, when you can actually move easily with your luggage. Remember that a lot of stuff can be re-worn a few times and laundrettes are readily available in most European cities so taking an afternoon out to wash all of your things is always an option!
Use the Train
Europe is connected really well by train and it is surprisingly easy to travel from place to place using its vast network. By purchasing an Interrail global pass you can travel on several different trains on any date, with a one-time payment. You can choose how long you want your pass for so whether you are going to travel within one month or you can buy a longer pass depending on how many rail journeys you intend to do during your trip. It is definitely worth planning ahead and buying one of these passes because if you plan to travel a lot then you will save a huge amount of money than if you were to buy individual train and ferry tickets for each trip. If you are planning on covering a big amount of land, you might want to choose a particular corner of the continent, use your Interrail pass to travel it, and then find a budget flight to continue on your way.
Carefully Consider your Accommodation
5 star hotels every night and backpacking trips don’t exactly go hand in hand, but when it comes to finding a cheap, clean and friendly place to stay whilst travelling, you can’t go far wrong in Europe. Ignore the stigma that surrounds hostels and get looking online on sites such as Hostelworld which often have bargain rooms that don’t compromise on quality. When you’re travelling you ideally want a room with a central location (to save money on transport), a place to store your valuables and some type of breakfast included is always a bonus. If you prefer to stay alone (ie not in a shared room) you can check out Airbnb for some cheap listings in the area. Booking ahead is advised to get the best deal, but the Airbnb app will often allow you to book on the day for that very same night – perfect if your trip takes an unexpected turn!
Be Safety Savvy
In the tourist areas of Europe it is no secret that pickpocketing and scams are rife. Be extremely careful when queuing to tour landmarks or strolling around a ‘main square’ (think, the Trevi Fountain in Rome) as this is where they lurk and quite often, they have had very good practice so you wouldn’t notice if they were to steal something. Make sure all of your valuables are in your sight as all times, either in a secure bag across your body or a bum bag. Using a rucksack or a pocket without zips is taking quite a big risk when it comes to safety.
There are several tourist traps in all European cities which may look appealing (situated in the main square, by landmarks or along famous rivers) the likelihood is these types of restaurants and cafes will have all of your holiday spends on one coffee and a (tiny) piece of cake so it is best to avoid these places. Local restaurants and eateries are much more purse friendly and chances are the food is a lot nicer and a lot more authentic anyway, meaning you can experience the true culture and cuisine.
Do you have any tips?