10 tips for backpacking through Europe

Europe has it all: sprawling cities and quaint villages; boulevards, promenades and railways; mountains, beaches and lakes. Some places will be exactly how you imagined: Venice is everything it’s cracked up to be; springtime in Paris has even hardened cynics melting with the romance of it all; Oxford’s colleges really are like Harry Potter film sets. Others will surprise, with their under-the-radar nature or statement-making modern architecture.

Venice, Italy

1. Pick your season wisely

Best Time for Backpacking: Most backpackers head to Europe between May and September, rather than the peak time in July and August. This time will bring the best weather, the possibility for taking a refreshing dip in a lake or the sea, and there won’t be a need to pack heavy winter clothing. You’ll also meet a lot of other backpackers along the way, which can be good or bad depending on your perspective. The hostels will all be open too. The downside is that trails can be crowded, hostel prices higher, and you’ll probably have to do laundry more often due to sweaty clothing. In just about every Europe destination, to enjoy more mild weather and fewer crowds, you may want to go toward the end of the busy period in September. If you plan to tackle both northern and southern locales, head north first and then explore the more southern, Mediterranean destinations after the extreme heat of summer has dissipated.

2. Take the train

Getting around by train is still the best option, and you’ll appreciate the diversity of Europe best at ground level. Plus, if you make your longest journeys overnight and sleep on the train, you’ll forego accommodation costs for the night. Most countries are accessible with an Inter-rail Global pass or the equivalent Eurail pass. Depending on your time and budget, choose one corner of the continent then consider a budget flight for that unmissable experience elsewhere. Make sure you check out our tips for travelling by train in Europe.

TGV, France

Related post: The best train journeys in Asia

3. Find the right Accommodation in Europe

CouchSurfing is a great community that connects travelers with local hosts but since 2020, you now need to pay a fee to be able to use it. If you traveling by bicycle you can also use Warmshower, they are also established worldwide. 

If you are the kind of person that like to reserve your hotel before to arrive HostelWorld has the largest inventory of hostels in the world, with millions of reviews from fellow backpackers. Agoda is also a great deal and has lots of advanced search and filters for finding hostels, hotels, and unique accommodation.

Airbnb has been a game-changer in our travel style! It’s allowed us to stay in some pretty dope places all over the world for a fraction of the price. Aside from the fact that we get access to things like a kitchen and a larger living space, booking an Airbnb more often than not is CHEAPER than a hotel.

If you’re looking for an Airbnb coupon code, click the yellow button below and instantly get $45 off your next Airbnb booking (regardless if you’re a new user or if you already have an account.)

4. Plan your trip around a festival

There’s always some event or other happening in Europe, and the bigger party can be reason enough for visiting a place. Be warned, though, that you need to plan well in advance. Some of the most spectacular extravaganzas include: Cream fields 2021. Warrington, United Kingdom, Primavera Sound Barcelona 2020. Barcelona, Spain, Ultra Europe 2021. Split, Croatia, Oktoberfest (beer festival in Germany) 2020 will commence at noon on Saturday 19th September and end on Sunday 4th October,2020

5. Eat like a local

Welcome across some of the world's greatest cuisines in the world on your trip to Europe, so make sure to savor them. A backpacking budget does not need to be a a barrier either. If you avoid tourist traps to eat and drink with the locals, you'll find plenty of foodie experiences that won't break the bank. Treat yourself to small portions but big flavors with Baguette & cheese in France; relish the world’s favorite cuisine with an Italian pizza; or discover the art form of the open sandwich with smørrebrød in Denmark.

Have you heard about the "Balut" in the Philippines? Check it out

6. Find the freebies

Being on a budget doesn’t mean you should miss out, even in some of the world’s most beautiful cities. Many iconic European experiences are mercifully light on the pocket and sometimes even free: Walking around the Eiffel Tower in Paris or even visiting the cathedral is completely free. Make the most of the free museums in London and try cooking with local ingredients rather than eating out.

Book a tour anywhere in Europe: Amazing sightseeing with Get a guide

7. Get Travel Insurance

Don’t risk traveling without travel insurance just to save money. If something happens to you on the road, you want to be prepared. We recommend World Nomads.

8. Rent an Apartment

I know what you’re thinking… apartment rentals can’t possibly be cheaper than a hostel. But they can be, especially if you’re traveling in a group or as a couple. Fizah and I rented an entire apartment on Airbnb under $50 USD a night in France. Not only was it cheaper, but we also had our own private space, kitchen and washing machine. Click here to get up to $35 off your next booking with Airbnb with our Airbnb coupon code.

9. Fly With Budget Airlines

If you don't like the hassle of long bus rides, hitchhiking, or sharing a car with strangers, but still want to save cash? Then flying with budget airlines maybe a good option for you. Budget airlines are the travel budget backpackers best friend and Europe has over a dozen! I tent to book my my flight with Jetradar as I honestly always find amazing deal with them. For example, we flew from Nantes to Dublin (return) for only €69 during a friend reunion.

10. Skip the International Phone Plan

These days you can get in touch with almost anyone via free apps like Whatsapp, line or even Facebook messenger and Skype. The only thing that you need is free Wifi, and you can find it pretty much everywhere in Europe in bars, restaurants or at the library. I went cycling for 5 months from Mongolia to Tajikistan without a phone plan, and not once have I thought “damn, I should have gotten that international phone plan!”

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