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April 21, 2015

Europe Backpacking Travel Guide

Culturally diverse and heritage rich cities. Mountains and lakes, forests and beaches. For a backpacking holiday, few places in the world match up to Europe. Get started with our simple steps for the perfect backpacker’s guide to Europe.

Planning

oversea

The best thing about a backpacking trip is the sense of freedom you enjoy. That doesn’t mean you get off a flight someplace in Europe and then figure out what’s next. Apart from a whole lot of things that could go wrong, an unplanned trip could become horribly expensive.

Ideally, start planning your trip six months ahead. Besides deciding on an itinerary, you’ll have ample time to get travel documents in order and hunt for good deals on international airfares, local transportation and hotels in Europe.

Where To Go

London, Zurich or Bruges? Beaches or vineyards? Pick up a backpacker’s travel guide to help you shortlist places to visit; it will also come in handy while travelling around. When buying a guide, make sure it’s a recent edition, has clearly laid out maps, and provides specific information like opening timings, phrases in local languages and common etiquette.

Budgeting

Crunching numbers is boring, but the most important part of any trip! What does it cost to trawl around Europe? In a word – plenty.

Crunching numbers is boring, but the most important part of any trip! What does it cost to trawl around Europe? In a word – plenty.

Food

Anywhere in Europe, food in sit-down restaurants is expensive. Munching a store bought sandwich and drink in a sunny park or plaza can be both fun and pocket-friendly.

Accommodation

Hotels or hostels? For the single traveller, hotels are expensive – less so for a group. On the plus side, there’s more privacy, a private bathroom and often, breakfast thrown in.

Hostels are far cheaper, often with Internet, kitchen and laundry access; they’re also a great way to meet other backpackers. Many hostels are conveniently located. However, shared accommodation translates into more noise and some hostels may simply not be up to scratch.

Local Transport

European cities are a walker’s delight, but you’ll still need to use the subway or local buses. Typically, you will need around $10 – $ 15 per day, more if your explorations take you outside the main city.  Driving around is a worthwhile option if you’re in a group.

Looking Around

City tours, museums, galleries, castles – these attractions come at a price, anywhere from US $10 upwards.

What To Pack

Less is more – your shoulders will agree when you’re actually toting a backpack around. A few pointers:

Depending on the season, carry only basics like jeans, shorts, tees, sleepwear, an all-weather jacket/hoodie, swimsuit and plenty of underwear and socks.

  • Essential toiletries
  • A simple first-aid kit
  • Flashlight (with extra batteries)
  • Swiss Army Knife
  • Carrying an expensive camera? Insure it against theft, loss or breakage.

Ponder over these points while buying a backpack:

  • How comfortable will it be when full?
  • Does it fit your body size? You don’t want to invite grins toting an oversized pack; neither do you need an aching back.
  • Look for smartly placed zippers that will make it easy to pull out things from the bottom and comfortably padded straps.
  • If it has a separate day pack, you can carry this while going around a city and leave the larger unit in a locker.

A few snapshots to tickle your imagination:

Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg Austria

 As if the train ride from Vienna through the verdant Alps isn’t enchanting enough, pretty Salzburg is straight out of a story book. Visit the home of Wolfgang Mozart. Revive childhood memories on a Sound of Music tour. Savour some apfelstrudel. A glass funicular ride takes you to Festung Hohensalzburg, the 900-year-old fortress that looms over the city. On a golden afternoon, the banks of the River Salzach are perfect to rest those tired feet.

Nice, France

Nice France

Sun, sea and sand of course, but Nice, capital of the fabled Côte d’Azur is more than just that. There are world class art museums and Roman ruins to explore. Spend a day soaking up the ambience of the old town with its stone stairways, flower and vegetable markets and pavement cafes. Enjoy home-style Provencal cooking…heavenly!

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona Spain

Spain’s most happening city! A 24 x 7 party place with buzzing cafes, bars and restaurants, Barcelona has a long and storied past going back to Roman times. Its massive Gothic structures impress, but what you’ll take away are maverick designer Antoni Gaudi’s eye-popping creations, the most visible landmark being the iconic Sagrada Familia church.

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