The Best Backpacking Tips and Tricks for Europe: The Big List of Awesome

This article will aim to be a complete one stop shop for all of the tips and tricks you will ever need when it comes to backpacking in Europe.

From some general tips, to specific advice for beginners and women, tips for packing light, backpacking during winter and gear and safety tips too. I hope to cover off every tip I can think of that pertains to backpacking Europe within this article.

If you’re about to start planning your backpacking trip to Europe, you might want to check out this article, as that will help you cover off the planning side of things.

Every backpacker has their own tips to share, and these are mine. If you are an avid backpacker like myself and you can add to this article, then please leave a comment at the bottom of this page or shoot me an email. I’ll want to update and grow this article over time, until it is an unstoppable force of tips and information for backpackers world-wide.

I’ve separated the tips and tricks into segments which you can jump to using the same page links I’ve included below. Let’s do this.

Backpacking Tips for Beginners
General Backpacking Travel Tips
Backpacking Tips For Women
Winter Backpacking Tips
Ultralight Backpacking Tips
Backpacking Gear Tips
Backpacking Packing Tips
Backpacking Safety Tips
 
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Backpacking Tips for Beginners

When you start backpacking for the first time, the whole process can be a little daunting, and you’re certainly out of your comfort zone. Overcome it, and embrace it. Breaking out of your comfort zone is what backpacking is all about, but trust me, the rewards are more then worth it!

Carry around the emergency contact numbers for your: bank cards (in case you lose them), travel insurance, and the embassy. You probably won’t need them, but just keep them on a slip of paper along with your passport.

If you’ve booked ahead, print out the address of the hostel before you arrive in a new city, or load it into your phone along with some directions. This can save you some time from having to visit the tourist office to get a map, especially if there is a line up!

Don’t ever change money at the airport or on the street. The airport will give you horrendous rates and on the street you run the risk of receiving fake money or being ripped off.

Pickpockets do exist unfortunately, so never carry a wallet in your back pocket. I sometimes carry a wallet, but I always have it in my side pockets, and if I walk through a crowd I’ll put my hands in my pockets. Also, don’t place your wallet on a table whilst eating in busy areas.

I met a guy in Barcelona who lost the 500 Euros he only took out from the ATM a few hours before because a thief pretended to sell him a book, leant over to show him the book, and then swiped his wallet straight off the table.

It’s always good to have a backup bank card to access money if necessary. I often travel with a bank card and a credit card (one that is travel fee friendly) in case I lose one or the other. Don’t store them in the same place.

Don’t keep all of your money in one spot. Always be segregating your cash, and only go out at night with what you think you will need.

Scan all of your important documents and then email them to yourself (I use Gmail, and highly recommend it) and label them ‘travelling’. Then if you lose them at least you can print out copies again which may come in handy. Ensure your email password is secure though (use a combination of letters, numbers and even capitals too!)

You will need a small ‘day pack’, which is a small backpack perfect for heading out during the day to carry water, maps and so on. A lot of backpacking backpacks will have a daypack included that can be clipped on and off.

If you’re bringing electronic gear (camera, laptop, iPhone), remember you will need an adaptor as Europe runs on 220 volts. Also remember that the UK is a different voltage yet again to Europe, so it may even be best to get a ‘universal’ travel adaptor. I’ve seen them going for pretty cheap in the stores these days.

Any decent hostel will have a book exchange, where you can swap the book you’ve just finished for another – it’s the backpacker’s library. Write something fun and interesting in the front cover for the next traveler.

If you’re in a hostel without lockers, and are carrying valuables like a phone or laptop, it can be worth it to carry a very light chain. When staying in large dormitories and heading out, lock your backpack up with combination locks and then use the chain to secure the backpack to your dorm bed. I will say though, that in all my travels, I haven’t had a fellow backpacker steal anything from me in a hostel (except for a bit of food from the fridge). So doing this can be a little overzealous, but then again I don’t travel with a new laptop.

Unfortunately theft in hostels CAN happen. I met a girl who had her iPhone stolen from her dorm room – and she had met everyone in the dorm room too, but no-one admitted to taking it!

Remember, other travelers and backpackers are your best guides for hostel recommendations, and cool things to see and do!

Locks symbolizing love on a bridge in Paris.

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General Backpacking Travel Tips

When you are in a new city in Europe, there are often ‘free walking tours’. Do them! You get a wealth of great information and tidbits that can help bring the city to life. Of course the tours are not exactly ‘free’, more like tip based only, but I always gave five to ten Euros and that was fine. They normally go for about 3 hours. The guides can be a little hit and miss sometimes, I had some amazing guides and others that were not so amazing, but overall it’s definitely worth it.

If you have a student ID, then bring it along, in Europe especially there are lots of discounts to be had if you are a valid student.

Most travelers are friendly and want to meet people just like you do. Challenge yourself to introduce yourself to everyone in every hostel that you go to. You’ll be surprised how many new friends you’ll make.

Whenever I get into a taxi, I always ensure they turn the meter on as soon as the cab gets rolling. You don’t want any surprises. Alternatively make sure you agree on a fare before you get into the taxi.

Don’t bring along your expensive watch backpacking, just buy a cheap one from somewhere. You only use it to tell the time after all!

I did travel with my iPhone last time, and it was useful I will admit. Most European hostels have free WIFI, and it works great as an alarm as well for those early morning buses and trains. You can also use it to listen to MP3’s too of course, so it saves you bringing any other sort of device.

For those photographers out there, switch your SD cards every few cities in case you lose the camera (and therefore the SD card inside). It’s often a good idea to just store an SD card full of your favorite and best photos with your passport.

My girlfriend Trudy often says she would be more devastated to lose the SD card with her travel pictures then the camera itself (as it’s insured). The SD cards are way more valuable to her!

Don’t forget to add that expensive camera as a specific item to your travel insurance, as often they will only cover a certain amount for personal effects unless stipulated.

Read the fine print of any travel insurance you take out so you know exactly what you’re covered for. Ultimately you will want full medical and emergency medical transport cover, that’s why I get travel insurance at any rate.

EasyJet uses Paris and London as their big hubs for flying. If you are planning a long flight, then aim to do so from either of those points as you will the most flexibility and choice of destinations.

Being under 26 years old will lend itself to lots of ‘Youth’ advantages with rail passes and the like.

If you’re only heading to one or two countries in Europe for a quick trip, then it can often be cheaper to buy a country specific rail pass rather than the ‘Eurorail’ pass. When I backpacked Germany for a while, I got a German rail pass and it saved me a bunch.

The Eiffel Tower lit up at night in Paris.

If you happen to be travelling on a passport from a country within the EU, then bring it along to the big museums. You can often get in free of charge by showing your EU country passport. I travel Europe on my UK passport (thanks Dad!), but I kept forgetting to bring it with me to museums, I had to pay at The Louvre for example, which was quite annoying because it should have been free!

I heard great things about a craze called ‘Geocaching’ from a fellow backpacker in Cologne. He loved it to bits and said it was a fantastic way to see the city and areas that locals know about. The premise sounded fun and interesting to me. I haven’t got around to doing it yet myself, but check it out!

There is also a website called ‘Spotted by Locals – which also has great articles on some specific things to do and see in various European cities that are a little different.

Check out ‘Couch Surfing’, another cool concept which will allow you to meet some great locals and save some Euros at the same time.

You might also want to investigate ‘AirBNB.com‘, it’s often cheaper then hotels, so if you’re after a few days of comfort and privacy out of large dorm rooms, it might be worth checking out.

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Backpacking Tips For Women

When choosing your backpack, make sure it isn’t too big, as it needs to sit correctly on your hips and align with your spine appropriately. I’ve met a few female backpackers that had backpacks that were sitting all wrong on them due to its size, and it was really affecting their trip.

Don’t over pack. Ask yourself if you really need more than 2 pairs of shoes or more than one swimming costume. It all adds up!

Be confident, and always trust your intuition and instincts.

Don’t be afraid to ask other backpackers or travelers for help if you need it.

My girlfriend Trudy would like to add:

“Those pair of boots might be gorgeous, but after 3 weeks they’re going to be weighing your pack down so much… so think twice before packing them. In some countries there is very little range of hygiene products. If you do have a favorite brand of tampons or pads it might be a good idea to bring enough for the whole trip.
 
Also, if you’re on the pill, don’t forget that the changing time zones can affect its usefulness. Be smart and always use a condom if you’re sleeping with somebody you’ve only just met.”

 
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Winter Backpacking Tips

If you’re thinking of backpacking Europe in winter, then heads up, it’s going to be a cold! You’re going to need a scarf, a beanie, some gloves and a decent winter jacket. If you’re starting your big trip in the summer months however, it might be worth it to just purchase these items when they’re needed and winter comes around. This will save you some room in your backpack and ensure you have a nice, light pack for those summer months of travelling.

Bring along a quality rain jacket to keep you dry if you find yourself traipsing in the pouring rain. You can also get a cover for your backpack for the rain and snow. I remember backpacking with a friend, and at the time I didn’t have a cover for my pack but he did, I was pretty jealous when it started hammering down with rain and my stuff got all wet whilst his stayed dry!

Layers are king. When travelling in winter, wear lots of layers. For example wear a long sleeved shirt, then a t-shirt, then a warm vest with a light jacket over the top, then your winter jacket. If you aren’t warm enough, add more layers! You can also keep wearing the clothes that aren’t directly against your skin – as they aren’t getting dirty. If the weather does happen to get a little warmer, then you can simply take off some of the layers.

Winter is the best time in Europe to experience that café culture that is prevalent in almost every European country. There’s nothing better than having a local tea or coffee in a snug café with cold snow falling outside.

If you’re after snowboarding or skiing, then to put it very simply you choose the west or the east, or shall I say, expensive and not as expensive. Snow trips in the Alps in Austria or France, or in Italy or Norway is a lot more expensive then say, Poland or Romania. If you’re on a budget, definitely head east.

I hear Zakopane in Poland has some pretty awesome slopes, and hostels in the city centre to boot.

This site isn’t really about ‘extreme survival, one man and his tent and his conquest of the Amazonian jungles and the Alaskan wilderness’, that’s not something that I know much about yet. So all my ‘winter backpacking tips’ are based on backpacking through Europe during the winter time and staying at hostels and the like, not covering the alps on foot with an ice pick and packet of old crisps. So if that’s what you were hoping for, sorry!

A sunny winter's day.

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Ultralight Backpacking Tips

Travelling with a light backpack can be extremely rewarding. You’re not weighed down, and it can be quite liberating having so little possessions and seeing amazing sights.

So when it comes to backpacking light tips, the first tip I would give is to bring along some hand washing liquid for your clothes. I have often washed my shirts and underwear at hotels and campsites, dry them for one night and usually you’re done. You’re definitely going to need to do some washing on the go if you plan on packing light.

Let’s be honest, lightweight backpacking is best done in the summer months, especially in Europe. Packing any clothing for colder months will instantly begin to weigh your pack down. Backpacking during summer is one of the simpler lightweight backpacking tips.

Get a decent pair of zip-off pants that can work as both long pants and shorts. The advantages here are obvious.

Only bring one pair of jeans (your favorite, most comfortable pair). Jeans can go AGES without being washed (as long as you don’t spill food and drinks on them…which I always do). Watch this video if you don’t believe me!

This guy did not wash his jeans for 15 months…and he was fine!

If you’re mostly going to be staying in hostels whilst backpacking through Europe and want to keep things light, then don’t bring a towel or travel sheets. They don’t weigh much if you get a micro fiber towel BUT every hostel I’ve ever stayed at in Europe has had towels and sheets available, so it’s just another thing you don’t have to pack. Be aware though that many hostels will charge you a few Euros for linens and towels.

Shoes can start to weigh a bag down quickly when you add more than one pair. I normally bring a pair of flip flops and one pair of casual shoes that are also comfortable when walking for long distances, it’s easy to add more and more things but you need to refrain if you want to keep your backpack nice and light!
 
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Backpacking Gear Tips

Bring along a pair of flip-flops (or thongs for you Australians), they are perfect for showering (best not to put your bare feet into communal showers if you can avoid it) and for walking around the hostel. Say ‘NO’ to athlete’s foot.

Travel sheets can save you a bit of money in Europe, as it’s common for hostels to charge you for linens and towels. You can also bring along a micro fiber towel (just don’t use it at the beach – sand and sticks cling to those things like nothing else).

I do think a money belt is worth getting, as they’re great for overnight trains or buses where you may be sleeping and not watching your bags. Never keep all your cash in one place though, whether it’s your money belt or wallet or backpack.

My girlfriend Trudy from our last Europe adventure.

I’ve found a small and simple torch to be quite useful for late nights in or early mornings in hostels. It’s polite to NOT switch on the bright lights at 4am in the morning when you’re getting up for that RyanAir flight and trying to get your stuff together and out the door. It’s also great for camping of course, if that’s also your agenda.

If you are looking at purchasing a backpack off the internet, I would first suggest finding the EXACT model that you want in a shop and learning how to set it right on your back. Tell them you’ll think about it and go and purchase that same model online (I would only do this if it’s quite a significant savings). Either way, don’t buy the backpack online without seeing one physically, or you may end up with a sore back and shoulders.

If you’re planning on buying some heavy duty walking boots or shoes for backpacking, then break them in first BEFORE leaving your home country. There’s nothing worse than having sore feet the first few weeks of your travels.

If earplugs work for you, then definitely bring them along. I never wear them, because I rarely have trouble sleeping. But for those that are light sleepers, then you’ll want them for those 10-20 bed dorm rooms!

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Backpacking Packing Tips

I like to roll my clothes up nice and tight when I pack. I find you definitely fit more in, and it’s a nice feeling when everything is compact. Backpackers like us shouldn’t be worried about wrinkles or creases in our clothes!

Think about the positioning of clothes and items. I like to put underwear and socks in the very top pocket of the backpack. Why? Because then I always have easy access to clean socks and underwear, without having to dig through my pack – they are the things you are changing every day (mostly).

If you bring along a jacket and you’re heading to Europe in the summer months, pack it at the bottom of the pack, as you’re less likely to need it. Put your favorite shirts at the top, in easy reach. You get the idea.

If you’re packing just prior to a flight, remember the rules for what you can and cannot carry in your daypack onto the plane. No liquids over 100ml is always a good rule of thumb, and make sure that Swiss Army Knife is packed snugly into your main bag. Hair gel and deodorant, don’t forget to put it in your check in luggage, or you’ll have to throw it away as you go through security.

Just recently a friend of mine flew with RyanAir, she was just flying over to visit us in Rotterdam from London, so it was going to be a nice short flight. Unfortunately she borrowed a little suitcase from a friend (who had advised her she always takes it as carry-on luggage). It so happened that the suitcase was slightly larger than their standard carry-on size, so she had to pay 40 Pounds just to check it in.

So double check your flights rules and regulations for carry-on luggage and that sort of thing, you don’t want to get caught out where you are forced to pay a stupid sum just to check in a bag that you thought would be perfectly suitable for carry-on.

Another tip is to make sure you’ve got all of your entertainment needs (books, magazines and MP3 players) in your day pack and not in your main pack. When you have a 12 plus hour bus trip, the last thing you want is to realize you’ve left your book and MP3 player in the front pocket of your bag that is currently stored underneath the moving bus.

It’s normally a good idea to lock up your backpack using combination locks when checking in for a flight or bus trip, this will obviously help with potential theft, but will also help validate your insurance claim (as you attempted to lock and take proper care of your belongings).
 
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Backpacking Safety Tips

Try and arrive into new cities during the day, as sometimes the areas around the main bus and train stations can be a little dodgy. I’ve never had a problem arriving a bit later, but it will make you feel a little more secure if you’ve got daylight ahead of you to get yourself organized. If you’re arriving in a new place after midnight, it might even be worth it to just hop in a taxi straight to the hostel.

Pickpockets and thieves do exist, so don’t carry all of your valuables around on your person (leave it locked at hostel – more on this in a bit!) A good tip is to have pants that have a zip pocket for your wallet or cash. Don’t wear a bum bag (Australian) or a fanny pack (American). Apart from looking silly and marking you immediately as a tourist, they also make it exceptionally easy for thieves to simply cut the strap on the back and run off with it. A money belt hidden underneath your clothes is a better option than a bum bag or fanny pack.

Most pickpockets will operate in busy tourist areas and the local public transport systems. Barcelona and Paris are notorious for pickpockets for example. I have never been robbed or pick pocketed whilst backpacking (I have just heard some stories from other backpackers), so don’t fear that it’s extremely common and will happen to you, just be a little bit wary of where you are and your surroundings.

Lock your passport in the hostel lockers. If there are no lockers at the hostel, you can ask reception to look after it for you, or if you have a zip pocket or a secure way of carrying it, take it with you when you go out. In this vein of thought, I would often put my passport and cash underneath my pillow when I go to sleep if there is nowhere to lock it up securely. However, most decent hostels these days will have lockers available, so don’t stress too much about it.

Police officers in London.

So there we have it, a nice big list of backpacking Europe tips.

I hope you have enjoyed and attained something from this article. I’m always looking to improve the quality and usefulness of my articles, so please leave a comment or send me an email via the contact page if you have something to add that will help backpackers around the world!

Also, if you thought this with worth sharing with friends or other backpackers, then please don’t be shy and feel free to click the Facebook, Tweet and Google +1 buttons below!

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36 Responses to “The Best Backpacking Tips and Tricks for Europe: The Big List of Awesome”

  1. Ashleigh says:

    Hey Tommy! Great article! I really like how you have alternated the colour of the sentences, keeps it interesting. A couple of tips I could suggest….
    1. People never seem to think of this, but don’t pack things in plastic bags in your backpack. I have done this with toiletries and chargers etc, and have always had to try to be quiet when people are sleeping in hostel rooms and I’m getting things out of noisy plastic bags! Zip lock sandwich bags are MUCH easier to see your things and don’t make noise!
    2. Always pack a padlock! Comes in handy so you don’t have to buy one and sometimes hostels don’t even sell them.
    3. Eyemasks are really good for sleeping in hostels so the light doesn’t wake you up when people keep opening the door or you’re in an unfamiliar place.
    Hope these tips are helpful!

    Ash xx

    • Tom says:

      Hi Ash! Those tips were great, thanks so much for helping to add heaps of value to this post. I haven’t done the eye mask thing, but as long as I don’t go to bed early I rarely have any trouble sleeping in hostels 😀

      I’ve never thought about the fact plastic bags are noisy (I hope this isn’t indicative of my lack of care for my fellow backpackers haha) – so you make a great point there! And a padlock is a must, of course. Thanks Ash!

  2. KC says:

    Hi Tom! Awesome article and awesome website! I and my husband are backpacking to Europe next week and I thought I’d look for some online packing before I pack.. I just wanted to compliment your work here! Ü This is our second backpacking trip. Our first trip was in Japan during winter.

    • Tom says:

      Thanks so much KC, that is great to hear 🙂 Ooh, I really want to go to Japan! I bet that was an awesome trip. Best of luck on your trip to Europe =)

  3. victor says:

    hi tom
    great tips, i also downloaded you pdf guide. im from mexico and im planing going backpacking for 2 months to europe. hostels and all that.
    the places i want to go are sweden, finland, holland, denmark, rusia and some others. i have heard that to enter rusia i need somesort of visa. do you know whats the procedure for that and if its a very long? im planing going on october. also what do you think of taking some inline skates there. i once saw some turist in paris skating and going all around the city like the wind. i thoght that was a good idea. whats your opinion on that.
    great guides tom, thanks.

  4. lucy says:

    Thank you so much for all your tips, info and advice, Tom! You are amazing- again, thank you! It will be my first time backpacking Europe and traveling on my own (though with friends) so naturally, I’m a little nervous. But all that you have written has been so helpful that I will be sure to try to remember them and use them as guides!

    I will pass your site on to my friends 🙂

    Lucy

    • Tom says:

      Hi Lucy, thanks for your kind comment 🙂 It’s awesome to hear my articles have been so helpful to you and quelled a few of those pre-travel jitters (don’t worry, they’re completely normal especially if you’re heading off for the first time!). Good luck and feel free to shoot me an e-mail if you have any more questions.

  5. Brianna says:

    Hey Tom, what do you know about tent camping through Europe? I was planning on staying on hostels if weather is too bad or if I plan to stay in that city for a few days.

  6. Rachel says:

    Love this!

  7. Philip Townsend says:

    so great!

  8. Karl Mor says:

    I’m going to Ireland to England in June. I have the same question as Brianna on tent camping. If I can’t get into a hostile, what is a good plan B?

    • Tom says:

      Hi Karl (and Brianna), sorry I missed replying to your original question Brianna.

      Camping is very prevalent and popular throughout Europe, especially during the warmer summer months.

      I’ve done a lot of camping through France & Spain, and we always rocked up and found our way to a camp site relatively easy to pitch up and then explore the city. Even camped in Paris (the camp grounds is pretty close to the city [for campgrounds] I gotta say!).

      A good site you might want to check out if you want to plan ahead or look at what’s available re camp sites is:
      http://www.eurocampings.co.uk/en/europe/

      Another fun one is CampInMyGarden which can be found here:
      http://campinmygarden.co.uk/

      Hostels are always a good backup plan if the weather really sucks or you’re craving some social time with other backpackers. I normally prefer hostels in Europe over camping myself.

      Hope this helps you guys! Let me know if you have any other questions!

      Cheers,
      Tom

  9. Meagan McGowen says:

    Hi Tom, Awesome article! I enjoyed the part about the books. I look forward to writing a note to a fellow traveler! My question involves traveling as a woman. I will be traveling to Ireland, Scotland, and Britain and my parents are very concerned with my safety. I’m 19 and they insist that I need to fake that I have a husband and other ridiculous sounding things to make sure I dont get “taken” like in the Liam Neeson movie. I dont think these extreme measures need to be taken, but I just wanted to get your view point on it. Thanks in advance!

    • Tom says:

      Hi Meagan,

      I understand that your parents are concerned but it’s certainly unfounded. You won’t get “taken” like in the Liam Neeson movie 😉

      Obviously, as a solo women traveler you need to make sure you are consistently exercising common sense – but travelling to Ireland/Scotland/Britain is in no way more dangerous then any other Western country. Most people are awesome, and you have a few crazies [mostly harmless].

      The boyfriend/husband move you can still use, but just reserve it for clumsy advances from that stinky backpacker boy that you’re not interested in. There’s certainly no need to pretend you have a husband for any other reason.

      You’ll no doubt meet loads of other friendly female/male backpackers alike and when you go out it’s normal for you all to look out for each other.

  10. Man says:

    Tommy,
    Thank you for the info. It seems to me that we have to check in at least 1 bag, which contains things that we can’t carry on the plane? How did you deal with that? Some other people suggest that we should manage to avoid checking bags when travelling with airplanes. What is your opinion?
    Thanks Tommy!

    • Tom says:

      Hi Man!

      Some people love to travel ultra-light so bring a pack that can double as their main pack and their carry-on. You can’t bring large volumes of liquid on the plane etc, so if you are just doing a carry-on all your stuff needs to be under 100mls and no pocket knives, big nail clippers etc.

      I always have a check-in luggage and then a small day pack that I bring onto the plane as carry-on, never had an issue checking on luggage except for the odd having to wait a while for them to get it onto the baggage drop conveyer belt after the flight. Being a travel blogger means I have laptop gear and all the extras that many backpackers don’t so I guess as long as I’m doing that I’ll be doing check-in luggage, unless I’m only going away for a couple of weeks.

      My opinion, if it’s a big trip (longer than a month) then check-in a medium sized bag and bring your small daypack with you as carry-on.

      Hope this helps!

  11. Megan says:

    Tommy and Trudy, you two are my hero’s!
    I was really starting to stress about packing but now I feel alot better 🙂
    Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou!
    *hugs and kisses*
    -Megan

  12. First time backpacker says:

    Hi Tom,

    Some great tips, thanks for the advice. I was just curious if I will need to bring a sleeping bag with me when staying in hostels? You mentioned bed sheets can be hired from most hostels, but what about blankets and pillows?

    Also, I have quite a large camera and I’m hoping to bring a tripod and a laptop for managing photos. Will I have to bring this stuff with me during the day, or will it be safe to leave it in hostels?

    Thanks! Keep up the great blog 🙂

    • Tom says:

      Hi there!

      You don’t need a sleeping bag with you for hostels, all of them can provide sheets whether this is free or you have to rent them (it’s free more and more these days). Blankets and pillows are also included (unless it’s a baaaad hostel!).

      You may feel more comfortable arriving at hostels during the day as a first time backpacker, especially in an unknown city. I’ve never had any bad experiences arriving at night though! What I would suggest if you’re bringing camera/tripod/laptop is to have a backpack that you can lock up by the zippers, get some decent combination padlocks and a lightweight chain/cord (designed for wrapping around an object to lock it, like a bike chain but you don’t want something that heavy!!) that you can put through a sturdy part of your bag and chain to the bed. This will stop any opportunistic theft from taking place on your valuables. It rarely happens, but I have heard of it happening before (not too me, but a girl I met had her iPhone stolen whilst she left it charging unattended).

      However, with the above aside, many hostels have lockers to put your stuff in, and these are normally pretty safe. Use those if available, and the above method if not. All will be well 🙂

  13. Mark says:

    Great advise!! I planning a trip through Europe this year. Sounds like most people who do this are on the younger side. Will older people ( I’m 45) have as much fun??

    • Tom says:

      Heya Mark! Sure, it’s popular amongst younger people to adventure Europe – but older people still do it too 😀 If you like culturally fascinating places, glorious food, meeting new people, experiencing other cultures then yep – you’ll have loads of fun! Plan it and do it Mark, don’t worry about your age in the slightest.

  14. Maria says:

    My boyfriend and I are planning a 2 week trip to Europe from the US, last two weeks of May 2013. We were thinking to book a flight to Dublin, Ireland and then book our travel from Ireland to other European countries. Is this less expensive than booking from the U.S? I’m assuming Americans can book transportation from Ireland or Europe. Thanks for your response. Enjoying reading your great tips.

    • Tom says:

      Hey Maria! Yep, you can definitely book travel in Ireland to other European countries no worries, it doesn’t matter if you are a citizen or not. I would suggest heading over to the Travel Resources page and using the flight aggregators & budget airlines to check out flights from Dublin/Cork (or wherever you would like to fly from). You might be able to net yourself a super cheap flight before you even leave (if you have an idea of when you want to head over to mainland Europe). EasyJet/RyanAir etc are often running big specials – so keep an eye open! Hope this helps Maria!

  15. Shontell says:

    Hi my boyfriend and I are planning our first backpacking experience through Europe for the Summer of 2014, my question is whether or not it worth being in a hostel. To be honest before your article I had no idea where we would stay, but now I have a new concern – my boyfriend and I are very active and from what I am reading a hostel would not be an appropriate place for that. Is there another mode of accommodation?

    • Tom says:

      Hi Shontell, ultimately hostels can cater for everyone – I’ve travelled with people who would go for a run most mornings whilst many of the rest of us groggily slept in. Hostels don’t have a certain type of people stay in them, they’re open for all travellers. You can still be super fit and active and stay in a hostel, no worries! Maybe mix it up with some Airbnb bookings to keep things interesting.

  16. marian says:

    Thanks for all the info, actually I’m planning my trip but I’m not sure about going alone, that’s what stilll wondering it’s not my first time in Europe alone. I really wabt to go alone but I’m a little bit afraid. I’m 23 girl from Mexico

    • Tom says:

      Hey Marian. It’s normal to be a bit afraid at first. All I can say is that it’s something you have to push through – once you’re in hostels and meeting new people that will pass very quickly!

  17. Trevor says:

    Very very useful. Thank you for the tips. This added a bit more depth than msot of the tips I’ve seen out there.

  18. Pamela says:

    Thanks so much for the tips. After 7 years of sitting on New Zealand mountains watching my kids ski and snowboard I’ve decided that we need to take a trip to Europe so I can do the same there. (At 14 and 17 my kids will be a great age and the European winter fits in well with the NZ school holidays). At 43 I’ve never backpacked before but we’re going to use it to enable us to extend our stay to around 8 weeks. A little bit nervous but very excited and have been searching for tips and tricks for the last few days. Yours was definitely the most informative site!

  19. Amelia says:

    You talk about traveling in the winter. My husband and I will be in Europe April to May and are wondering if we should bring our sleeping bags or just sleeping bag liners. I don’t want to get cold at night but are hostels okay with sleeping bags?

  20. Gabriel says:

    Thank you for all the information Tom! I really appreciate it!

    I’m going backpacking for 2 months with some friends to Europe… I would like to ask you, how much planning do we really have to do? Do we always have to make reservations to stay in the hostels?

    What could I do to take the most out of this experience? How many days do you suggest me to stay in each country/city? Should I make reservations to the tourist places?

    How much would it cost me the whole trip? Without taking into account the airplane or the train ticket?

    Thank you!

  21. Cass says:

    Hi I am planning a backpacking trip next summer solo. Do you have any tips for solo travelers?

  22. Ski Magic says:

    Really helpful thankyou

  23. Mike says:

    Great information!! Im planning my first backpacking trip to Europe with my wife. What size pack would you recommend for a 17day trip. Thanks for the helpful info..

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