Are you looking forward to backpacking through Europe? If so, this is one of the most thrilling and memorable travel escapades you will experience. At Heymondo, we have prepared an exhaustive checklist for your Europe adventure. We will share a comprehensive guide to backpacking, that will come in handy before your trip to Europe.
Don’t forget to take out international travel insurance for your backpacking adventure in Europe.
- 1 Top Tips for Backpacking
- 1.1 When do you want to travel?
- 1.2 Cheap places to visit in Europe
- 1.3 Pack strategically
- 1.4 Save on travel when backpacking in Europe
- 1.5 Share accommodation
- 1.6 Travel by train through Europe
- 1.7 Know where you are traveling to
- 1.8 Free tourism
- 1.9 Ask the locals
- 1.10 Student or teacher
- 1.11 Take advantage of events
- 1.12 Be patient
- 1.13 Language
- 1.14 Food
- 2 What to pack as a Backpacker in Europe
- 3 Best Countries to Visit as a Backpacker in Europe
- 4 What do you need to know about visas before backpacking in Europe?
- 5 Is it safe to travel without travel insurance when you go backpacking?
Top Tips for Backpacking
Savviness as you backpack comes with experience. The more you backpack, the better you get at it. There are a whole lot of mistakes that you are likely to make especially for first-time backpackers, and it is totally normal. Some of these mistakes include wearing inappropriate gear or carrying excessive weight. We hope these tips will help you become a better backpacker.
When do you want to travel?
From warm Mediterranean conditions to extremely cold snow-capped countries, Europe is an impressively diverse continent. Depending on the experience you are seeking when visiting Europe, some seasons are better than others. As such, the ideal time to backpack purely relies on your preference.
During winter, there are fewer visitors and you get to enjoy reduced prices. On the other hand, during summer, there are more crowds and prices are at their peak. Since these seasons vary across Europe, each country has its distinct tourist season. Ascertaining the season of your destination will not only save you money but also the hassle of dealing with the brims of other visitors.
Cheap places to visit in Europe
When traveling, we often put so much emphasis on transport and accommodation costs that we overlook other expenses, such as entertainment and food. The costs which we term as miscellaneous carry a lot of weight and make a significant difference when comparing several tourist destinations.
It is essential to research the price index of various European countries, to help you estimate the costs of products and services you wish to consume. As such, you will identify the destinations which fit your budget and if anything, are affordable and save you money. Even so, ensure that these pocket-friendly places do not compromise the quality of leisure you desire.
What should I put in my backpack? You may ask. Heymondo, has you covered on this, as we have prepared an ideal guide to assist you to pack effectively. Understanding how to pack a backpack appropriately is a time saver and dramatically reduces frustration. However, knowing what to pack is not enough. You should also understand how to pack strategically.
There are items that are best suited to be packed at the bottom of the backpack or suitcase, some should be in the middle while the rest should be at the top. Frequently used items such as drinking water and your phone should be at the top for easy access. If your trip will entail camping and you intend to carry a sleeping bag, this is an item that can be at the bottom of your backpack.
Save on travel when backpacking in Europe
Monitor the price of tickets for various airlines before booking your flight. Ensure that you track these fares on the airlines’ websites, to get a good deal. The same applies when also using other means such as trains and buses that do not have fixed travel charges. If possible, travel during off-peak seasons since the fares are pretty low at this time.
It is understandable that you don’t necessarily want to share accommodation, especially when traveling with strangers. However, if you plan to backpack through Europe with friends and family, sharing a hostel or a motel should not be much of an issue. A shared room is definitely cheaper than booking separate spaces for each backpacker.
Most cities in Europe have spaces that allow for sharing accommodation. As the popularity of traveling has been on the rise, multiple platforms for shared accommodation have emerged. Swapping homes as well as travelers staying in another family’s home is now a thing. As a consequence, new friendships have been born out of such arrangements.
Travel by train through Europe
Traveling by rail is relatively cheaper than catching a flight. You can travel long distances by train and even sleep in it if you wish. Sleeping on the train saves you money that would have otherwise been spent to book a hotel room for the night. As a backpacker, this is quite a perk. On top of this, with Interrail, you can navigate across numerous European counties. An Interrail ticket earns you inexhaustible travel by train, where you get to explore 33 countries. How incredible!
Know where you are traveling to
It is wise to research your destination prior to traveling. Some aspects you ought to consider are the traditions, practices, and religion of your destination’s population. Due to cultural diversity, you understand beforehand what is expected of you as you interact with your destination’s inhabitants.
It is also crucial to gather information about the climate, terrain, and available activities within your destination of choice. This information will help you assess whether this destination is appropriate for you or if you need to look for a more suitable one. On top of this, knowing where you are traveling helps you plan your itinerary and navigate conveniently once there.
Europe is one of the most highly acclaimed tourist destinations globally. European countries have a rich culture, incredible cuisine, beautiful art, elegant fashion, you name it. Because of this, there are numerous museums, art galleries, fashion events, concerts, and food festivals for Europe backpackers to enjoy.
Ask the locals
It is vital to establish a rapport with your destination’s locals. With a warm relationship, the locals will not hesitate to share information that will guarantee an epic stay in your destination. You may consider seeking recommendations on the best attraction sites to visit, the most entertaining concerts to attend, the restaurants with the most celebrated cuisine, galleries with the most versatile art as well as the hotels offering comfortable and affordable accommodation.
Student or teacher
Being part of certain groups when backpacking in Europe, earns you a discount. For some services, there may be deals for a backpacker who also happens to be students. You can enquire from service providers whether they extend discount deals. If so, you can request them to alert you when these deals are available. Taking advantage of such discounts will save you some money.
Take advantage of events
Whenever there are major concerts, congresses, or festivals taking place in Europe, the cities fill up with tourists from all ends of the world. In such times, plenty of free and exciting activities are also held, which you can revel in. Check the dates when such occasions have been scheduled and plan your backpacking trip to coincide with them.
While traveling, a substantial amount of time will be spent looking for the most suitable means to travel, the best hotels to accommodate you, ideal restaurants to eat at, among other things. Arriving at what works for you may not happen right away. A lot of back and forth may be involved especially if traveling in a group, where each backpacker has their own preference. This experience may be both time-consuming and frustrating, hence the need for patience.
You are likely to face a language barrier when backpacking in Europe, where you will be navigating across countries whose native languages you are not familiar with. It is quite impractical to always master the languages of all destinations before you travel and so, a barrier to communication is expected. Do not let this get to you or hinder you from having optimal fun. On the brighter side, this is an opportunity to learn a few words of each language you are exposed to during your trip.
Trying out new cuisine is often on the bucket list when traveling to a new place, even more so when backpacking in Europe. This can however come at a high cost. If it is not in your budget, you can always get food items from the supermarket. Packaged food might be slightly affordable. Another advantage is that, with food from the supermarket, the ingredients are listed on the packaging, creating awareness of whatever you are consuming.
What to pack as a Backpacker in Europe
The fundamental step to packing is having the right bag. This should be followed by assembling the gear you will carry on your trip. Since the required gear is dependent on the kind of trip and your destination, there is no fixed list of what should be carried. Nonetheless, there are essentials that cut across all types of trips. Some of these include clothes, a medical kit, and toiletry.
The right backpack for you
There are three key elements to consider when choosing the most suitable backpack for you. These are capacity, fit, and features. The capacity, which is the size, depends on the amount of weight and quantity of items you plan on carrying. A backpack with a capacity of up to 40 liters should be ideal for your Europe backpacking.
The fit of the backpack should be proportionate to your body size, especially your torso area. In terms of features, you should consider purchasing or hiring a backpack that has several compartments, lockable zippers, a waterproof material, a padded back as well as padded shoulder straps, and hip belts.
Two pairs of shoes are enough for Backpackers
When packing, the objective is to pack light. Due to weight and space constraints, it is advisable to carry just two pairs of shoes when backpacking in Europe. One pair to put on and an extra pair to change is sufficient. When moving around, you can be in closed shoes such as hiking boots. When taking a shower or resting, a pair of flip-flops should do.
You can pack a pair of socks to wear with your hiking boots. When hiking, friction is likely to occur and this can cause blisters all over your feet. The soreness will hinder you from moving around comfortably and in turn, you will barely enjoy your backpacking adventure. Hiking socks are a suitable barrier to prevent friction between your skin and the shoes.
Soap bar and microfiber towel
Hygiene is crucial and this is why you should always carry personal effects, especially toiletries when backpacking in Europe. Aside from a bar of soap and a microfiber towel, other essentials such as a toothbrush, some toothpaste, deodorant, menstrual care products, and toilet paper should be packed.
Even though you can get most of these items in supermarkets within your travel destination, you may fail to get the specific items that work for you. If you have sensitive skin, you might be hesitant to buy a foreign soap brand from the store or even use the one provided in your hotel room. The same applies to towels and menstrual hygiene products such as tampons.
Versatile clothing for a good backpacker
The type of clothes to carry will be based on factors such as the climate of your destination and the activities that you intend to indulge in. All the same, items such as t-shirts, shorts, and trousers should come in handy for whatever conditions.
Weather conditions may vary drastically and move contrary to your expectations. If you anticipate hot conditions all through, do not be surprised when it suddenly turns cold. So, as you pack light clothes, it does not hurt to throw in a few warm items such as a sweater or jacket.
Basic first aid kit
To safeguard your health, it is important to pack a first aid kit that can be used to attend to mild medical emergencies. A well-stocked travel medical kit should contain basic items such as a hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, antiseptic, painkillers, an adhesive wrap, gauze, bandages, and a pair of scissors.
Best Countries to Visit as a Backpacker in Europe
Even though most European countries meet the cut as ideal destinations, some are more suitable for backpacking than others. These are some countries to keep in mind when backpacking in Europe:
A fun fact is that Spain is the second most mountainous European country. This implies that a backpacker would hardly run short of hiking destinations in Spain. If you also enjoy mind-blowing scenery and engaging in fun activities in addition to hiking such as skiing, then this is the place for you.
In addition to this, Spain has a rich history and culture as well. There are numerous historical buildings all over Spain, attracting thousands of tourists year in, and year out. For ages, tourism has been contributing significantly to Spain’s economy. Therefore, infrastructure such as quality accommodation has been developed to sustain this trend.
With 40 museums and multiple entertainment areas such as theaters, Amsterdam is the prime cultural center in the Netherlands. In addition to this, Amsterdam is filled with unique architecture, brightly and beautifully colored buildings as well as alluring canals. If you are on a tight budget, there are a couple of free things you can enjoy in Amsterdam such as viewing exemplary street art and visiting serene city parks.
Who would not wish to backpack in a country whose coastline is 2000km long? This extensive coastline comes with many islands, making Croatia a highly sought-after destination. Every island offers a unique experience. You can rest assured that there are at least one islands that perfectly fits your budget and travel preference.
Aside from the islands, Croatia has National Parks which are quite an attraction, especially for animal lovers. However, if you are uncomfortable around crowds, then visiting Croatia in summer, is not the best decision. To be precise, August is the month you should avoid. All the same, during this season, the coastlines are so delightful that the crowds are not a bother.
Even though Switzerland is considered one of the most expensive European countries, this has not stopped the country from being a sought-after tourist destination. Being the most mountainous country in Europe, Switzerland boasts plenty of outdoor activities such as hiking and skiing. Due to their scenic peaks, the Swiss Alps are among the most popular destinations in Switzerland.
Even though Portugal may not be a much-praised European country, it is a hidden gem. The weather in Portugal stands out among many European countries. The country has a warm climate, allowing you to enjoy its beautiful beaches and serene coastlines all year round. In addition to this, experiencing life in Portugal is affordable and safe even when you opt to travel alone.
If you need to enjoy some nightlife while backpacking in Portugal, then Lisbon is the place to be. If you wish to have some quiet, Vila Nova de Milfontes will provide the beauty and calmness you desire. On the other hand, if you are into surfing, Sagres should be part of your itinerary.
6. The Netherlands
The quality of hospitality that tourists are accorded in the Netherlands is next to none. Also, the weather in the Netherlands is equally welcoming. It is neither cold nor hot, making it an ideal destination to visit at any time of the year. The Netherlands is home to architectural elegance and art which is displayed in the numerous museums spread across the country. We cannot fail to recognize its stunning landscape, mainly filled with charming tulips.
For history enthusiasts, Germany bears a rich history where you can learn a lot, especially about the second world war. More than 40 world heritage sites are in Germany. If history is not your cup of tea, then festivals may be. Munich hosts Oktoberfest, a popular event where visitors can enjoy Germany’s beer, and traditional meals and also have fun at their theme parks of choice.
With close to 20 world heritage sites, Greece has been a celebrated tourist destination since the 70s. Primitive archeological sites such as the Parthenon, are quite a site. On top of this, Greece has a charming Mediterranean climate and is home to multiple delightful islands, coastlines, and beaches. While in Greece, backpackers should prioritize touring Athens and Santorini.
If you have watched the popular “Game of Thrones”, which was filmed in Ireland, then you have an idea of how magnificent this country is. Backpackers consider Ireland as one of their favorite destinations. Why? because Ireland is naturally scenic. Also, the country is full of life, no wonder it hosts iconic festivals all year round. Some of these festivals include the International Oyster and Seafood Festival, Tradfest, and Patrick’s Day.
When you think of monumental ancient ruins and scenic landscapes, Italy comes to mind. If you need to try out new pasta cuisine and pizza you have not had before, any restaurant in one of the country’s magnificent rustic towns will have you covered. Italy has just the perfect wine collection if you also crave some wine to accompany a delicious meal.
In the countryside, extensive vineyards, coasts, snow-capped mountains, and calm lakes will blow your mind. To enjoy this experience when there are minimal crowds, then April and June, as well as September and October, are the ideal times for you to visit. While in Italy, touring Venice and Rome should be at the top of your bucket list.
What do you need to know about visas before backpacking in Europe?
It is essential to research the visa requirements of the country you intend to visit, preferably a couple of weeks before backpacking in Europe. Even without a visa, citizens of the US are allowed by the EU to access the Schengen Zone. This zone is constituted of 26 European countries. However, some of these countries, such as Iceland, are not a member of the European Union.
US citizens can backpack through the Schengen Zone without a visa, for a period not exceeding 90 days. If you intend to spend more than 90 days touring through the Schengen Zone, a Schengen visa is needed. This visa earns you an extra 90 days. To acquire this visa, you should produce a cover letter, a certified passport or an official travel document, Europe travel health insurance, and proof of means of subsistence.
Is it safe to travel without travel insurance when you go backpacking?
Your health is a priority, hence the importance of having travel insurance when backpacking in Europe. Because of this, we recommend our travel insurance cover, to safeguard your well-being as a Backpacker. In addition to your health, our travel insurance coverage also insures your luggage against loss, perhaps through theft.
In case you require medical help, you can conveniently make an emergency call using our Heymondo assistance app which is operational around the clock. At Heymondo, it is our pleasure to see you fully relishing the experience without the worry of unanticipated incidents such as medical events or loss of luggage.
Heymondo travel insurance will cover medical expenses up to €5,000,000, and medical assistance, like care by medical teams, specialists, tests, hospitalization, treatments, and medical supplies. You cannot account for accidents and medical issues when traveling alone or in groups. Therefore, if they occur and you do not have travel insurance, they may cost you thousands of dollars. Travel insurance also provides a 24-hour app, where you can consult a medical team and enjoy other benefits related to medical affairs during your trip.