Tom’s Super Guide To Planning A Trip Backpacking Through Europe

 

Welcome To The Complete Guide To Planning A European Backpacking Trip

There is so much information out there on the internet, and I personally think a lot of it is complete junk. I want this article to be the NUMBER ONE resource when it comes to backpacking through Europe. It will be informative, helpful, and most importantly, NOT junk!

With this guide I want you to have a few ‘aha’ moments or maybe a few ‘that’s a good idea’ moments. I want this to be a valuable resource for other backpackers like myself, or for fledgling backpackers who may be about to start on their very own journey to Europe.

In this guide I’m going to share everything I wish I knew before heading off on my first adventure. Having backpacked Europe a number of times (and having lived there as an expat for a while) I like to think I have a few good pointers that can help you get started.

Because of all of the above, this article is going to be really long, so I will be breaking it down into manageable chunks. Read the whole thing if you’ve got the time, I’ve drawn from and poured as much of my own personal experiences and lessons learned into it as I can. If you are after some specific tips or information in particular, use the links below to jump around the article.

Let’s get on with it.

Map of Europe
Arranging Passport & Visas
Money & Papers
Travel Insurance
Cost
Routes
Sample Europe Itineraries
Packing List
Europe Tours
Europe Pictures
Backpacking Advice
Item & Gear Recommendations

Backpacking Europe - Reading a map in Rome
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A Simple Map of Europe

I thought it might be a good idea to start with a map of Europe. Any decent Europe backpacking guide would be remiss without actually showing you a map of Europe. So here it is!

backpacking through europe map

Open the map in a new window to make it nice and big!

Welcome to Europe. It’s the world’s 6th largest continent and consists of 47 countries (as well as other assorted dependencies, islands and territories). Phew. That’s enough facts for now I think.

So, my first recommendation is to familiarize yourself with this continent! Not only will this build up the anticipation of the trip to come, it’s also a great way to avoid homework and other dull activities. Might I also suggest getting a globe for your room (I have one that is also a lamp and lights up from the inside, it’s AWESOME, so get one of those).

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Arranging Your Passport and Visas

 

Passport

In the planning phase and whilst ticking off your ‘backpacking in Europe checklist’, please don’t forget to organize your passport and the appropriate visas for the countries your are visiting (more on visas in a moment). Don’t leave it to the last minute. Don’t leave it to the last minute. Let me repeat that. Please don’t leave it to the last minute!

There is nothing worse than thinking you have more than enough time to sort and obtain your passport, only to realize the processing time (according to the post office clerk) ‘may take 6-8 weeks, it really depends…’, and you’re sitting there thinking, ‘but I leave in 4 weeks!’.

Then you’re biting and gnashing your nails leading up to the flight date, only to receive it 3 days before you go. IT’S NEEDLESS STRESS, I tell you.

Let me tell you a quick story, when I had to renew my Australian passport, I ran into some troubles due to the fact that I had lost my previous passport (that’s a tale we won’t get into right now) and neither of my parents were born in Australia (my dad is English and my mother is Dutch).

So even though I have an Australian birth certificate and had previously had an Australian passport, there was some obscure government ruling that still applied to me where I had to prove extra things and obtain all sorts of paperwork from my parents because I was applying for a ‘new passport’ instead of ‘renewing my passport’.

The point of this story is to make you go and arrange your passport immediately, because you just have no idea what complications may come up. Give yourself a good 3 months to sort it out, if not more. Enough said on the matter I think. Onwards!

Useful links:

US Passport Site

Australian Passport Site

I know I said I was done with passports, but one more final note of importance. If either of your parents are born in a European country, I highly suggest looking into getting a passport from their country. You may well be applicable for one, and it can make travelling Europe a LOT easier, especially if they are from a country within the EU (European Union).

The US and Australian government allow dual citizenship, so you are legally able to hold two passports (I know this is true, as I have two passports myself).
 

Visas For Europe

It helps knowing which countries you plan on visiting of course, and US and Australian citizens are often entitled to 30 or 60 days into various European countries without even requiring a visa. So if you are planning a short trip to one country, do a bit of research and see if a visa is even required. For most backpackers however, there is the Schengen Visa.

The Schengen Visa lets you into 25 European countries (including ALL of Western Europe), allowing you a total stay of 90 days in the applicable Schengen countries.

Here is a complete List of the Schengen Countries

Austria

Belgium

Czech Republic

Denmark

Estonia

Finland

France

Germany

Greece

Hungary

Iceland

Italy

Latvia

Lithuania

Luxembourg

Malta

Netherlands

Norway

Poland

Portugal

Slovakia

Slovenia

Spain

Sweden

Switzerland

Let me say this however, there is one very popular tourist destination that is not currently on the Schengen Visa, and that is Croatia. So if you plan on going to Croatia, you need to look into whether or not you need to arrange a visa, as having the Schengen Visa will not help you. Citizens of the US, Canada or Australia are not required to have a visa and can stay in Croatia up to 90 days, for example.

But get this, I met a friend backpacking, and he was travelling on an Indian passport with a Schengen Visa. He met a few Australian guys, and they all decided to pop on over to Croatia together. They were on a ferry, and got to the passport checkpoint, and Croatian customs said to him:

‘Oh, you are not allowed into Croatia. You are here illegally’.

So he had to stay on the ferry and go BACK out of Croatia, all because he didn’t realize that his Schengen Visa didn’t cover Croatia. So have a good peruse of the Schengen country list, and if you plan on visiting countries in Europe that are not on the list, you need to investigate whether your passport will allow you to enter that country with or without a visa. Don’t end up stuck on a ferry!

Lake in Croatia - Backpacking Europe

A lake on one of the Dalmatian Islands in Croatia.

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Money & Papers

 

Accessing Cash in Europe

You’re going to need a way to access money overseas. I would recommend a card that has Visa or MasterCard access – with either one of those you will not have trouble getting money out anywhere in Europe.

A big problem is that a lot of banks will give you cards with this access, but will charge you ridiculous fees just to get money out.

  • They will charge you foreign currency conversion fees.
  • They will charge you cash advance fees.
  • They will charge you international transaction fees.

It’s pretty absurd and annoying. If you live in Australia, I have a perfect solution for you. I’ve been using this credit card for every trip I’ve been on since I was 18. I have no affiliation whatsoever with this company or this card, it’s just a fantastic product for travelling so I’m recommending it here.

It’s a 28 Degrees MasterCard, there is no annual fee, no cash advance fees and no foreign currency fees. I guess where they make money is that you get charged about 18-20% interest as soon as you withdraw the funds. HOWEVER, used sensibly, this card will save you a bucket load in conversion fees and cash advance fees. The card itself will convert currency at the global MasterCard rate (which is always going to better then your local bank).

If you endeavor to logon and pay off your card via Internet Banking at least once every two weeks, it is one of the cheapest ways to travel and access money back home in my opinion.

It may be a credit card, but I’m not recommending it for you to spend money you don’t have. It’s purely a means of access for me, and not a way of drowning myself in debt, and I suggest you treat it the same way!

If 28 Degrees ever remove these great travelling features off the card, I will be removing this recommendation off my website.

If you don’t live in Australia, you’re going to need to do a little research of companies in your country and what they can offer you in terms of accessing cash abroad. If you can get it, you want something that will not charge you cash advance fees or foreign currency fees, give you an exchange rate based on a standard Visa or MasterCard rate, and preferably one that has no annual fees as well.

A bit hard to find? You betcha!
 

Papers & ID

You will need a passport of course; we’ve covered that off already. But apart from a passport, what are some other useful papers and ID cards to bring along with you on a backpacking trip to Europe?

I have two words for you: Student ID

If you have a valid Student ID card, then DO NOT LEAVE IT AT HOME. You will get discounts on everything in Europe, from museums to cinemas to train tickets. Bringing along your Student ID is an absolute must (I didn’t have one on my last trip since I’m not a student anymore. I hate missing out on all those student savings!).

Other papers that will come in handy:

  • If you have booked any flights, print out the tickets and confirmations and store them in a safe place. It saves you having to do it later at an Internet Café.
  • Bring along a small book and write down the hotline number for losing your bank card. Put in the emergency travel insurance phone number as well (more on travel insurance in a moment). Put in your passport number. Then fill it with anything else you deem important!

A final note on papers and ID, it’s always a good idea to leave behind photocopies of your passport and ID with family or friends back home. Trust me, losing your passport is an absolute pain, having a safe photocopy of it may well come in handy at some point.

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Travel Insurance For Backpacking Europe

I’ve used a couple of different travel insurance companies, but have never needed to claim anything (thankfully). So I cannot really take you through the claims process and tell you exactly which company is amazing and perfect, because I haven’t done it myself. I can tell you that if you lose something, report it to the police (and get a receipt for that) as soon as possible if you can. Having a police report for your losses will ALWAYS HELP in an insurance claim.

Photo From A Flight Whilst Backpacking In Europe

Photo from a flight in Europe.

I can also tell you that you should definitely get travel insurance and to do the following things:

  • Read the fine print.
  • Ensure you are covered completely for emergency medical and transport.
  • Check the excesses. How much will you need to pay if you actually make a claim? How much will they cover PER personal item lost? Will you need to specifically add your new Canon Camera or MacBook as a specifically covered item to ensure it is covered appropriately. You need to know the answers to these questions.
  • Check online for promotional codes to get possible discounts. I knocked 10% off my latest travel insurance purchase just by Googling a promotional code. Never hurts to try!

Shop around, get a few different quotes, read various reviews, ask friends and family.

I had a friend in Croatia break and dislocate her wrist. She needed hospital treatment in Croatia, emergency surgery in Germany, and then had to fly back to her home in Australia and get treated there – this would have cost her a pretty penny if she didn’t have any decent travel insurance.

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Backpacking Europe Cost

So how much does it cost to backpack through europe? Well, it’s a pretty common question, and obviously, it can have a lot of different and varying answers. Let me see if I can help you based on my own experience.

If you are wanting to set a budget and get a rough idea of cost and how much money you will need to bring, there are a few things you need to know about your own trip. How long are you going for? Are you happy to stay in hostels in large mixed dormitories or do you want your own room? Are you happy with cooking your own meals, or do you want to eat out every night? Do you mind flying with the budget airlines and catching buses?

I pretty much pin down costs to four main categories: sleeping, eating, drinking, and transport. Those four things will set you back the most, I absolutely guarantee it. Since this site and this article is about backpacking specifically, I am going to make some assumptions about you:

You don’t want to stay in five star hotels, you would love to eat out – but will do so sparingly and at local haunts (not at Michelin star restaurants), and you are more than happy to pre-drink and socialize at the hostel prior to going out on the town.

Am I right? I hope so, because that’s what I’m about to base these cost estimates on!

On average, a bed in a hostel dorm will set you back about 20 Euros a night (will normally range from 15 – 30 Euros).

If you’re happy eating and cooking at the hostel with food from the local fresh food or supermarket, you can definitely get by on 10 Euros a day for food. Bearing in mind this is on the cheaper end of things, no salmon steaks for you! If you would like to eat out every now and then, perhaps set yourself a budget of 20 Euros a day for food.

The cost of drinks is of course very dependent on the person, some people do not drink at all, and others (Australians seem to have a reputation for this) will drink a lot. Lucky for you, alcohol is relatively cheap in most European countries. Your budget on this, I will leave entirely up to you.

As for transport and tickets for museums and other assorted ‘expenses’ that will just show up (trust me, there will be a few of them) – it’s always a good idea to budget for these as well. A decent museum will generally set you back 6 – 10 Euros. A flight within Europe booked in advance with EasyJet or RyanAir will cost you anywhere from 30 to 80 Euros. Buses will be cheaper then trains, but trains are a lot more comfortable to travel in, so keep that in mind.

All in all, as an average cost to backpack through Europe – I would say 80 Euros a day will get you by very comfortably with no problems whatsoever. If that seems expensive, bear in mind I’ve factored train tickets, flights, museum tickets etc into this equation. Of course you can do it MUCH cheaper then that, but if you can save your backpacking money with that figure in mind you’ll be doing great. To do it cheaper, simply remove things that are expensive, it’s as simple as that!

For a more comprehensive and in-depth look at the costs involved, have a read of my article:

The Average Cost of Backpacking Across Europe: An Indepth Look At My 2 Month Trip

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Backpacking Europe Routes

So what route should I take, where should I go, what should I DO, Tom?

This is the advice I give you. Sit down, and write down every country you want to visit in Europe. List them in order of importance, and listen up, list them in the order of importance FOR YOU PERSONALLY. Don’t put them in an order that you feel is ‘expected’ of you and your trip to Europe.

If you harbor a secret love for German beer and beer is important to YOU, but your friend keeps telling you how amazing Italy was. Guess what? Germany goes above Italy in the order of importance. It doesn’t matter if friends or family or even society might see your reasoning as ‘trivial’. Who cares?

I’ll probably say this throughout the article until I sound like a broken record, but when you backpack you backpack for yourself. You don’t travel for anybody else but you. Keep this in mind at all times.

So using this new little list of European countries that are sorted in order of importance will help you come up with some excellent Europe backpacking trips. So how long are you going for? Using your ‘countries in order of importance list’, print out a map of Europe and start drawing squiggly black lines and writing things like ‘2 weeks in Germany’ or ‘at least 3 weeks in France’. This will help you formulate your thoughts, and already you will probably find you are developing a loose Europe backpacking route in your mind.

The other alternative is that you can just fly into London or Paris and wing it – (in Australian that means make it up as you go along). I did that on my first backpacking adventure when I was 18. I went for 10 months in total, and winging it was definitely fun.

Winging it does have its pros and cons.

Pro: You meet some awesome people who are going to this amazing town in Czech Republic that has the best beer and food hall ever. Of course you can go with them as you don’t have any solid plans.
Con: You really want to get to Paris for a festival. Flights are extremely expensive, but you know for a fact that if you had booked in advance a few weeks ago it would have been more than half the price.

Let’s do another one, and these ones come from my own personal backpack story bank:

Pro: We were hitchhiking outside a small French city heading towards Toulouse, we got picked up by a cool guy who was more than happy to give us a lift the whole way there. It turns out it’s France Day, and Toulouse is going mental with celebrations. There is no possible way we are going to get accommodation, but through the course of 3 hours driving with this guy, we become friends, and he offers to take us out in Toulouse and give us a place to sleep for the night.
Con: We hitchhike into Perpignan, only getting a lift relatively late at night. There is only one hostel there and it is completely booked out. We have to stay up all night with our backpacks in the local town square trying not to fall asleep so some unsavory characters don’t rob us blind.

Winging it opens yourself up to loads of new opportunities, but then again you may get caught out a few times as well. So that’s why I’m now more of a fan of loosely based plans that are open for interpretation.

What I mean here is that I might already KNOW of a festival in Paris or Amsterdam that I want to get to, so I will book the flight in advance and lock in that date for flying from ‘X’ airport. Then I will leave my plans open and meander my way from point A to B going where I please with the knowledge that I need to reach that airport for that flight on that date.

If you plan on travelling in the peak season (which is during the summer months in Europe), then it’s also a good idea to book in advance for hostels as well. Cities like Barcelona and Amsterdam are notorious for completely booking out (I’ve had to stay up all night at the Amsterdam train station once before because I didn’t book in advance), so you are better off locking in your dates when planning to visit those cities.

So when planning your European backpacking route, think about how you want to travel.

Do you want to book everything in advance, or just roll with it and see where you end up? There is no right or wrong way to do it, just do whatever feels comfortable and exciting for you!

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Backpacking Europe Itinerary (Samples)

Alright then, let me give you a real live sample itinerary for backpacking Europe. These are just for fun, and of course you can use them if you like, but trust me, you’ll have way more fun picking your own countries to visit and making up your own travel plans.

My little sample itineraries won’t tell you how long to stay in one place, that’s completely up to you. Two days as a minimum in each spot (unless you’re positive it’s a stop-over) is always a good way to go. You might want to stay a lot longer in the capital cities where there is a lot to see.

Backpacking Itinerary 1: North Europe – Fly into and out of Amsterdam

Amsterdam: There is a lot more to Amsterdam then the Red Light District and the coffee shops, so make sure you have time to explore this amazing city of canals and all it has to offer.

Berlin: With its absolutely fascinating history, do a walking tour and try and see a few of the 183 museums available. And of course you’ll have to walk the Berlin Wall and see some of the amazing artwork.

Dresden, Germany

Dresden: This city turned out to be a favorite of mine in Germany. Make sure you stay in the ‘new city’ as this area is absolutely loaded with cafes, pubs and clubs and a real buzzing and vibrant atmosphere. The irony is the ‘new city’ is in reality the oldest part of Dresden, as the ‘old city’ was completely destroyed during World War II but was rebuilt faithfully according to old plans.

Nuremburg: A good city to see if you haven’t been to Europe before. The old city is wondrous and so European, with a castle overlooking it atop the hill. I enjoyed the museum at the Castle, with suits of armor and old weaponry.

Prague: People often either hate or love Prague. Many people feel it has been completely overrun with tourists and ‘stag’ parties and the like – which they believe has destroyed the city. It’s definitely worth seeing however, and it’s always good to make your own opinions about places whilst backpacking. It has a big castle of course, and lots of other things to see.

Cesky Krumlov: This is quite an enchanting city, and there is a lot to do for backpackers. From water sports to the pub crawl down the river, you will meet lots of people and have heaps of fun.

Vienna: A fantastic city to explore, full of romantic history and brilliant architecture (and of course awesome night life). Lots of decent hostels and camp sites here too!

Salzburg: This city is where they filmed ‘The Sound Of Music’, and is also the birthplace of Mozart. Lots of Baroque architecture, all in all it’s a very beautiful European city.

Munich: Most people will know it as the city of Oktoberfest. I had a blast in Munich when I was there (try the Augustiner beer, I think it’s one of my favorite beers in the whole world, definitely better then Paulaner and the rest!)

Some flowers and the Eiffel Tower.

Luxembourg: The old town of Luxembourg is a UNSECO heritage listed site, and Luxembourg itself is one of Europe’s smallest countries. There are exceptional museums to visit, and lots of culture to experience, it has been named the European Capital of Culture twice now.

Paris: The city of love. It can be an amazing experience, but it’s one of the more expensive locations for backpackers. The food and the wine are stellar, and there are some world class museums (The Louvre, Museum D’Orsay etc). Make sure you have a picnic as the sun sets in front of the Eiffel Tower; you’ll get a dazzling light show (we did it a few days running, and it’s a fantastic cheap night out). Don’t worry; you certainly won’t get bored in Paris.

Bruges: Seen the film In Bruges? This quirky little city in Belgium is so much fun to walk around. Get lost in the magical city of Bruges with all its cafes, pubs, museums and restaurants.

Amsterdam: And you’re back in Amsterdam.

Here are another few quick itineraries you could consider doing.

Backpacking Itinerary 2: South Europe – France and Spain – Fly into and out of Paris

Paris, Lyon, Nice (possible side trips to: Monaco, Cannes and St Tropez), Marseille, Montpellier, Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid, San Sebastian, Bordeaux, and back to Paris.

Backpacking Itinerary 3: East Europe – Fly into and out of Prague

Prague, Bratislava, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Split (island hop through the Croatian Islands to Dubrovnik), Belgrade, Budapest, Krakow, Warsaw (then either back to Prague or head up to Latvia/Estonia).

But those were just for fun! As I said before, it’s much better if you make up your own rough itinerary. There are so many amazing places to see in Europe, from Croatia to the Greek Islands to Slovenia and Italy – you certainly have a lot of options.

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Backpacking Europe Packing List

When it comes to a Europe backpacking list, number one on the list for me is always a decent stockpile of clean underwear. I’m more than happy to wear the same shirt for a while, and I’ll wear the same pants until I simply have to wash them due to the fact that they are covered in gross food stains. However I simply can’t do without lots of clean jocks! That’s just me though.

I’m going to assume that you know how to pack your own clothes, although I will stipulate that if you’re going for longer than the summer months in Europe you will need a decent jacket. Winter backpacking in Europe will even require a beanie, a scarf and some gloves too!

Bring along a comfortable pair of pants for long train or bus trips. Don’t forget your favorite pair of jeans. Ensure you have shoes that are comfortable when walking for long periods of time. Bring along a pair of flip-flops (in Australia we call them thongs, but this is often awkward for non Australians). I tend to use them in the showers – which is generally good practice especially in large hostels.

A decent money belt is also pretty useful. I know they’re a bit cheesy, strapped around your waist the way they are. I don’t wear mine all of the time when travelling, as a lot of hostels will have lockers. But it’s a good way to keep all of your important items in one safe place (although if you have two different bank cards with you I suggest storing them in different places in case you lose one) especially on night buses or trains.

Here are a few more items that you may not have thought of bringing along that have proved extremely valuable for my trips:

  • A small torch (excellent for leaving dormitory rooms early in the morning to catch that pesky flight and not waking everyone else up in the room).
  • Anti-fungal cream. I know, I know, it’s gross. But it can happen that you start getting some weird rash on your arm or leg. As soon as you see it, WHAM IT with the anti-fungal cream. Normally solves the problem.
  • BPA Free Water Bottle. I found it pretty useful having my own decent water bottle. Most of the water throughout Europe is drinkable, and having your own sturdy bottle is definitely the way to go.
  • Journal. If you enjoy recording your experiences, writing in a Journal regularly is a fantastic thing to do. Imagine how fun it will be in 20 years when you dig it up out of that musty old box that’s been sitting in the back of the cupboard. Memories!

All in all, Europe isn’t exactly ‘behind the times’, so if you do happen to forget to bring anything with you it will certainly be possible to buy it over there.

Please just don’t forget your passport and your means of cash access.

For a more comprehensive article and information on the items you really should bring with you on a backpacking trip, checkout my backpacking essentials article.

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Backpacking Europe Tours

There are two big boys of travel tours throughout Europe and they are Contiki and Busabout.

There are differences between what the two companies offer, which I will explain in more detail in a moment. I’ve done one small Busabout tour, which was on a boat that was island hopping in Croatia. It was fun, and I made a few great friends that I am still in touch with – but from what I saw and heard there, people have very mixed experiences.

It can be worth doing, and if you plan on travelling solo and are finding this a bit daunting, doing a guided tour like this can definitely ease you into the travelling experience.

Contiki and Busabout differ slightly in the sense that Contiki offer complete guided tours. They organize everything for you, from accommodation to itineraries to places to eat. It’s a real hand holding guided travel experience, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, that’s just what it is.

Busabout has similar guided tours, but they also offer something else which they call the ‘Hop On Hop Off Loops’. These ‘Loops’ are more open ended and give you more freedom to stay in one place for longer. You choose when to go on to the next destination within the Loop and there are Busabout buses leaving on set days. The premise seems neat, and I have a friend, Sarah, who gave me her thoughts after using Busabout to travel Europe:

Sarah: “I liked Busabout, but I didn’t like all the guides – they were a little hit and miss. As someone who was travelling solo, it was great because I got to choose to mingle or not, and for me that was a safety net. I changed my itinerary twice to stay with friends, and sometimes I split up with them and made new friends. I did the north and south loops, and yeah there is heaps of flexibility, and you are best off booking your buses in advance, especially during peak season. It’s not the cheapest way to travel but certainly not the most expensive, and it’s very convenient.”

As you can see, she touted the main benefits as flexibility of travel and meeting new people and friends.

On a personal note, I tend not to do these types of tours, as I enjoy travelling by myself and leaving things a little more open ended then what these tours offer. Hostels are definitely a great place to meet new people as well, so don’t feel you need to be on a Contiki or Busabout trip just to make friends! That’s just me though, and I can certainly see the appeal for these tours as a solo traveler.

Contiki is also notorious for a lot of heavy drinking and a lot of time spent on the bus – many people claim it is not ‘real’ travelling. As for me, who cares? What IS real travelling? There are too many ways to define that, and everyone will define it a little differently.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, you do not travel for anyone else but yourself. If Contiki or Busabout sounds like your sort of thing, then go nuts!

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Backpacking Through Europe Pictures

Check out some of the pictures in the Europe Backpacking Gallery from some of my own backpacking adventures, most of the photos were taken by my lovely girlfriend Trudy (she’s much better with cameras then I am). This should give you a thirst and hunger to get out there and explore Europe.

There is nothing better than discovering a new city for yourself – quirks and all.


 
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Travelling Advice Backpacking In Europe

 

First Time Backpacking Advice

Travelling Europe for your first time can be a little bit daunting, and I remember before I left for my first time, I wanted all the advice I could get.

Now this might sound a little silly, but just remember that wherever you go in the world, whatever new countries you visit, the people you meet are STILL people just like back home – you will meet amazing and fantastic people, people who will be more than happy to help you, and yes, some annoying and rude people too.

They might have a slightly different view on life (like the Spanish siesta, or the Dutchman’s ‘tell it how it is’ attitude) – but there are going to be wonderful people in every country you visit. I remember visiting a new country when I first travelled, and having this sense that everyone and everything would be completely different. It’s a comforting fact when you discover that no matter where you are in the world, people still have hopes and dreams and want to meet new people – and in my opinion are mostly kind.

I’m not sure where I was going with those last two paragraphs, but I hope I got what I was trying to say across. Some more advice I would give is:

  • Have respect for other beliefs and cultures.
  • Introduce yourself to everyone in the common room at every hostel (you will get used to answering and asking what I call ‘The Big Five’. The Big Five is, ‘What is your name? Where are you from? Where did you just come from? How long are you staying? Where are you going?’
  • Keep a Journal or an online blog. It makes for fun reading in years to come and is a good way to formulate thoughts on things you have seen.

 

Backpacking Advice For Women

A lot of female backpackers I meet travel with a friend. Three or four can be a crowd, but backpacking in a pair can be very rewarding – and you can look out for each other and keep each other entertained.

When at a Hostel, if everyone goes out on the town it’s important for you to stay with the group and not get lost, especially if you’ve had a few drinks. Most groups I’ve gone out with will always make sure people are not left behind and are being looked after. Don’t leave your drink unattended at bars.

A lot of hostels I’ve stayed at will have female only dormitories, so if you are a solo traveler and feel more comfortable sleeping in a dorm with other females, this is certainly an option.

Always try to arrive in cities during the daytime, and if you ever feel you are being followed or threatened, duck into the closest shop and talk to the clerk or ask if you can use their phone to call the police.

Using simple common sense can go a long way to enhancing your backpacking experience. You will learn little lessons along the way, and before you know it you will be sharing travel tips and secrets with other backpackers.

I remember catching a bus from Paris to Barcelona once, and a girl on the bus was a little creeped out by one of the me on the bus. He kept asking her to have a drink with him and was giving her lots of unwanted attention. Because we were due to arrive in Barcelona early in the morning, she asked if it would be okay if we walked with her when we arrived.

This is a great way to handle a situation like that, talk to some other travelers and ASK for help. If it’s your safety that feels threatened, there is no room for embarrassment.

Another point to make is to trust your instincts. You were born with instincts and most of the time they work pretty well, so trust them!

I had my girlfriend Trudy look over and contribute to this piece of the article, and it has her seal of approval.
 

Hostel Backpacking Advice

When you backpack Europe, two things are certain. You are going to LOVE some hostels, and you are going to HATE some hostels. It’s a given. I’ve yet to meet a backpacker who either loved every hostel or hated every hostel. Staying in hostels can be a mixed bag (same as hotels too of course).

Some good advice would be to simply TALK to other backpackers. Where they just in Berlin, and you’re about to go to Berlin? Where did they stay, what did they do that was good? And of course, be prepared to share your own experiences with other backpackers too.

The Backpacker Grapevine is an overflowing fruit of abundant information, so get involved and help yourself to it!

The reviews on the online backpacking websites (hostelworld.com or hostelbookers.com are the two biggest at the moment) are also generally a good indicator, but take the reviews with a grain of salt. Some people will be MUCH more picky then you might be, and will leave a bad review for a hostel that you would have found perfectly acceptable and perhaps have met some great people.

There are a couple of hostel ‘types’. There are party hostels, where you may find it quite difficult to sleep if you don’t plan on partying. There are more ‘relaxing’ hostels, where if you are looking to party you may get a little bit bored. It all depends on what you’re after of course. You’ll learn to pick the party hostels and the quiet hostels online based on location and the reviews, but there’s always room for surprises (that’s what makes backpacking fun!).

For more specific hostel advice and tips, check out my two posts:

What Are Hostels Like In Europe And Loads Of Hot How To Hostel Tips

Are Hostels Safe: A Few Tips For Staying In Hostels In Europe And Hostel Security

For more general and various hot tips for backpacking in Europe, take a look at:

The Big List of Awesome Backpacking Tips & Tricks.

Playing beer pong in a hostel in Valencia when backpacking through Europe

A friendly game of beer pong in a hostel in Valencia, Spain.

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Backpacking Europe Item and Gear Recommendations

Lonely Planet Guidebooks – These guys are the 300 pound gorilla in the room when it comes to guidebooks. They are pretty big for their breeches, BUT I do like their books and I’ll tell you why. It’s not really for hostel recommendations as they can be quickly dated and I get those from other travelers and online mostly, it’s actually to get a feel for a new country that I may be visiting or about to visit.

Lonely planet books have great summaries and introductions for countries and are a good read when you’re on the bus or train. If you can pick one up at a cheap secondhand store that’s always a good option as they can be pretty expensive brand new. Just make sure it’s not so dated that it still refers to currencies other than the Euro.

If you’re traveling with a laptop or the like, and will have regular access to Wifi it’s debatable whether you even need a traditional guidebook anymore with the feast of online resources that are available.

Kathmandu Backpacks – I brought a Kathmandu backpack when I was 18, and it’s still going strong today. There is not a single thing wrong with it. I absolutely love it! So I’m a bit of a fan of that brand in particular when it comes to backpacks (it’s an Australian brand though). I’ll be honest here and say that I haven’t tried any other brands, but the bonus and the point I’m making is that I’ve never needed to.

For a comprehensive guide on my personal recommendations of what to bring Backpacking to Europe, check out:

10 Backpacking Essentials: A Hot List of the Top Ten Essentials For Backpacking Europe
 

HostelBookers or HostelWorld?

These are the two big sites for booking hostels online. So which one should you choose to use?

To be honest, it’s either or;

HostelBookers is great because you are not charged any extra fees for booking through them. This is perfect for budget strapped backpackers.

HostelWorld does charge $2 per booking but has a great listing directory and well designed website, with reviews, dashboard features etc. If you plan to travel a lot you can purchase a gold membership for $10 that gives you unlimited free bookings.

If you are just starting out, try both and see which one resonates well with you!
 

The End of Tom’s Super Guide To Planning A Europe Backpacking Trip

(until the next update!)

This post is a monster at over 7000 words (maybe I should have written an eBook or something? Oh well :D).

I truly hope it’s helped you plan your upcoming adventure backpacking in Europe, if you have any questions at all about the guide please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m always wanting to add to and improve my articles, so if you have any further planning tips or notes that you think should be added in, then please leave a comment here or send me an email at tom [at] activebackpacker.com.

Safe travels!

A dog on the beach in San Sebastian when Backpacking

A friendly dog on the beach in San Sebastian, Spain.

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177 Responses to “Tom’s Super Guide To Planning A Trip Backpacking Through Europe”

  1. Ashleigh says:

    Another great article Tom! Your writing is fantastic. Another tip for female travellers (solo or not) is to try to behave like a local, don’t look scared or worried, put on your tough face and strut down the street! This seemed to work for me on the streets of New York and East London late at night! Men are less likely to hassle you if they don’t think you’re a clueless tourist!

  2. Catherine says:

    Hi Tom–

    I just found your website randomly while searching for backpacking advice online and it’s sooo helpful! I’m going backpacking this summer for the first time and like you said, I’m trying to get all the advice I can and learn as much as I can beforehand. It is quite daunting but so exciting! I have 2 questions for you, the first one is might be really dumb:
    1) If the Schengen visa is 3 months, how did you travel for 10 months?
    2) Do you recommend getting a Eurail pass?
    Thanks so much for your help!!
    Catherine

    • Tom says:

      Hi Catherine :)

      Thanks for your comment, and I’m really glad you find the site helpful! Let me see if I can help you out with your questions.

      1) I am able to travel and live within the EU (European Union) for as long as I like because as well as my Australian passport I also have a British passport (I’ve got dual citizenship). This is extremely useful for me, so if you have a parent or grandparent who was born in an EU country it’s definitely worth looking into! If you can’t get an EU passport then you have to deal with the visa process. There is an ‘ancestry visa’ for the UK that’s quite easy to get if you have a grandparent who is a British citizen – it’s a working visa that is valid for 5 years.

      If you’re just going for the summer or a couple of months, then the Schengen is the way to go. Make sure you check that each country you plan on visiting is on the Schengen though, you don’t want to get caught out!

      2) It depends how you want to travel – trains in Europe are very nice though, so if you’re only going for 1 – 2 months and have the money for one, then I would recommend it. Make sure you check both big train sites, being EUrail.com and RailEurope.com – make sure you get the best price you can! “Global Passes” are great if you’re only going to be spending under a week or so in each country and plan to see as much as you can. If you’re only heading over to visit one or two countries, sometimes it’s actually worth getting a country specific train pass instead of the global one. But it sounds like you’re planning a big Europe backpacking adventure (awesome!).

      If you have a valid student ID, make sure you bring that along as well! :)

      Hope this helps,

      Tom.

      • Mary says:

        Hey just wanted to point out one thing. I’m not “an all-knowing feminist” type at all, but I think it is worth mentioning that although traveling in pairs is great, there is absolutely no problem traveling alone as a female either if you have street smarts, and you’ve done this type of traveling before. I know I wouldn’t have had a fourth of the experiences I’ve had traveling solo if I would have gone with another person (female or male). Traveling solo is good for everyone, and really makes you more outgoing, and can really make your experience incredible instead of just great. You just need to have your wits about you- like you said- your gut is usually right.

        I’d like to add that this is AWESOME information- thank you for taking the time to write this! best of luck.

  3. Brilliant guide! I went backpacking around Europe two years ago with my boyfriend and had the time of my life! Loved every second. Wish this guide had been around then.

  4. Nick says:

    Amazing guide!

    When you said ‘complete’ guide you really weren’t kidding!

  5. Simone says:

    Great, detailed guide. I also found that it would be useful to scan and email photos or copies of all of your important docs (passport, credit cards, etc) to yourself and you always have an eletronic version which can ce accessed from a computer anywhere.

    I’m headed out May 27th for two months and “winging” it. I will definitely take your advice and pre-book some “sleeping” and “transport”.

    Thanks

    • Tom says:

      Hi Simone! Thanks a lot for the comment – good advice regarding scanning/emailing copies of important docs to yourself. Both a free GMail account or a DropBox account will get the job done no problems.

      May 27th is looming ever closer – I bet you’re excited! Good luck with your trip and all the best :)

  6. Alice says:

    Awesome advice, definitely the best i’ve come across! :) Love your attitude towards backpacking and couldn’t agree more with how much of a personal trip it is.

    In need of a bit of advice though, I’m a young Australian student in my gap year about two weeks away from flying out to Europe for a four month trip (lucky enough to have an EU passport). This is really my last chance to travel before university. But there’s a catch – this means I’m 17 for all of my trip, as I turn 18 in October. Is this going to be a major problem? I’m staying with family and friends for much of the trip (Italy-Germany-Spain-France), but will be occasionally relying on hostels as well.
    Not a massive drinker but I’m certainly massive on socialising and meeting other travellers, so i’m hoping this won’t be a great disadvantage to me.

    Thanks :)

    • Tom says:

      Hi Alice :) Thanks for dropping by!

      You’ll be totally fine in Europe, especially if you’re spending a lot of time with family and friends. You’ll definitely be younger than the majority of people in any given hostel, but it’ll just be a point of curiosity more than anything else.

      As for drinking, it will be fine in countries where the legal age for drinking beer & wine is 16 (Italy & Germany), however the legal age for drinking in Spain & France is 18. You won’t be able to go clubbing or anything like that where they are sure to check your ID.

      Have fun on your trip, you’ll have loads of fun! And don’t think that this will be your last chance to travel – that’s ridiculous :D You’ve got your whole life to travel and see the world – you can even try to get away between university holidays!

  7. Deb says:

    Awesome guide, very helpful especially as you are from Aus (I’m from NZ). I’m heading to the UK in 2 weeks and suddenly felt very overwhelmed by everything but reading this has helped put my mind at rest. Did you do any couch surfing on any of your trips?
    Thanks, Deb :)

    • Tom says:

      Hi Deb,

      It’s great to hear you’re heading off overseas on a trip!

      CouchSurfing is a great way to travel Europe in conjunction with hostels if you’re planning a budget backpacking trip.

      I currently host CouchSurfers every now and then in Rotterdam (where I am living at the moment).

      I haven’t CouchSurfed in the UK though, so cannot give you any first hand experience there. Overall though most people have positive experiences both surfing and hosting, so it’s definitely recommended.

      Good luck on your trip!

      Tom.

  8. Emma says:

    Another great article!

    Just a quick question (if you don’t mind me asking) I’m looking into either using the ANZ travel card or the 28 degrees Mastercard. I want to spend my own money though. With the 28 degrees card, are you able to load your own money on there and spend that, or do you have to use it as a credit card then repay it… I hope my question makes sense! I can’t seem to find the answer to this any where else!

    Cheers,
    Emma

    • Tom says:

      Hi Emma :)

      Your question makes perfect sense! The 28 degrees card is in fact a credit card, so you use it and then you pay it off again – you cannot load money onto it.

      How they make money off you whilst you are travelling is that cash advances (which is anytime you are drawing CASH from an ATM – which is what I do when I’m backpacking) will charge you interest from the DATE OF WITHDRAWAL.

      The card is by no means FREE, but if you pay off your card in total once a week or every two weeks (just do this online whilst traveling using BPAY or something), I find that it offers better rates then many other travel related cards. The reason for this is that it does not charge you any foreign currency conversion fees or cash advance fees. You also get your money at the current rate of exchange – which can be a good or bad thing!

      I don’t know to much about the ANZ travel card so not sure what will ultimately be better, but grab a piece of paper and investigate the following:

      - How much is it going to cost you to load your card with money (Are they going to charge you exchange rates to do this? At the current rate, how much is this going to cost you?). The 28 degrees won’t charge you for withdrawals but WILL charge you interest from the date of withdrawals. So it really depends on how proactive you think you can be whilst on the road in terms of paying it off.

      - How many times are you going to want to withdraw cash (and does it charge you a set amount for each withdrawal). If you like to withdraw smaller amounts more often rather then carrying around larger amounts then you can get pinged for multiple ‘ATM withdrawal’ fees.

      I would load up the terms and conditions and features of each card in two separate windows and spend a bit of time analysing which one is going to suit my style of travel better. That’s just me though!

      The real travel focused load’n’lock style cards can be great because you set the money on there and then you forget about ‘managing it’ and just use it to travel. This can be a lot easier for people who might not want to think about managing money too much whilst on the road.

      It’s really down to you :D Hope this helps.

  9. Kate says:

    This is an absoloutely awesome guide! I’m planning on going for a backpacking holiday in France, Italy and England over the Christmas break this year! I’ve had to plan very carefully because of the limited time I will have there.
    I will probably be going by myself because none of my friends get six weeks off at Christmas (perks of being a teacher) :). Are there any areas in France or Italy that a solo female traveller should avoid?
    Every single piece of information in this article is really helpful.

    • Tom says:

      Thanks Kate, I appreciate your kind comments :)

      I’ve still yet to go to Italy (we are planning a trip soon), but France is definitely safe – and I’m always hearing great things about Italy. As with any place in the world use some common sense when it comes to being a woman travelling alone. Hostels are always full of other backpackers and travellers so you won’t find it hard to make a group to go out with!

      I’m really looking forward to Italy myself, my girlfriends mother spent a lot of her youth in Cinque Terra so we will be checking that out. But of course with Venice, Rome, Florence the list of places we want to go is endless! I hear amazing things about the Amalfi Coast as well ;)

      • Kat says:

        Having travelled to France by myself I can vouch you’ll be pretty safe. Just keep your wits about you at train stations in Paris. Paris is a beautiful gem, but its also really rough and dangerous in parts. The central areas will be fine but be careful of young teenage girls whizzing in an out of the trains before they take off (pick pocketers). I only had a few instances of being hassled but it was all talk and it was in dodgy areas.

        • Tom says:

          Everything Kat says is true! Great addition to the comments, Kat, thanks. Most of Paris is beautiful and charming but like any city there are less savoury areas that a woman travelling alone should avoid at night. I’ve been to Paris quite a few times with my girlfriend and have not had a singularly negative experience. The most I get is gypsy kids running up to you or the guys outside the Sacre Coeur that try to force a friendship bracelet on you :P

      • Wong says:

        Poo.Tom.me.wong..how r u….thank u a lot of useful informmetion..we will to south Europe..back.Paris..after that we tow grils from Paris we fly to rom..Italy. It is Italy the place not safe for gril..any suggestion..or arcade..tq

  10. Amanda says:

    Thank you SO much for this article! I’m heading out on a backpacking trip in less than two months and I’m still trying to get my final plans all set up. This really helped a lot. I’m SO excited. It’ll be my first time. I’m setting out for a month and a half and pretty much going anywhere I can. I can’t wait!

    • Tom says:

      Hey Amanda! It’s fantastic to hear this little guide has helped a lot. If you need any help, let us know :) Have an awesome time on your upcoming trip!

  11. Deejay says:

    Hey Tom! When you said this was going to be a very long post, I dreaded that I would like so many other times, scan through the paragraphs and find myself at the bottom of the page before long. But your writing was excellent and I didn’t even notice that I actually read every word! I’m leaving for Europe on June 4th. I’ve backpacked in Thailand and travelled around China, Japan, Indonesia and Singapore before but those were just short individual trips lasting 3 weeks at a time at most. This Europe trip would however be for 2 months. I’ll be travelling alone and I have to say, as excited as I am, it’s also daunting! I worry that I might not find the right place to stay or figure my way around or get robbed!

    I have a question though. I plan on purchasing the Eurail Global Pass for 10 days (the cheapest of the Global Passes!). I was wondering if this is a good choice given that I intend to not see as many places as possible but simply to give me the flexibility of jumping in and out of places when I feel like it. 10 travelling days within 2 months seem a little constricting but I wouldn’t want to spend too much on trains. Thanks Tom!

    • Tom says:

      Hi Deejay, that’s lovely to hear that you have found the guide useful and that you’re planning a trip to Europe! With all your travel experience to Thailand, Japan, Indonesia and Singapore I’m sure you won’t have any problems in Europe :)

      A Eurail Global pass for 10 days is certainly useful if it gives you 10 actual days of travel within a 2 month period, especially if you’re not planning on cramming as much as you possibly can into one trip (sometimes I think people who do that really miss the whole point of travelling in the first place). Remember, you can always just get a bus if you run out of train trips. Don’t feel that you have to be constricted when you travel.

      Travelling alone is always a bit daunting at first, but honestly you are rarely “alone”. As soon as you reach the hostel you are staying in you will meet other backpackers and travellers. It also gives you the freedom to do the things you know that you want to do. Had enough of Churches (this is easy enough in Europe)?… No problem, you can scratch them off your list and put other things as a top priority! Travelling solo certainly has its benefits :)

      Anyway, all the best with the trip and if you have any other questions, let me know!

  12. Daniel says:

    Hey Tom! (you sound like a legend of a man haha), I have a bit of a silly question for you… If say, i was going to travel Europe for 1-2 months, when do you recommend booking the flight home? ie. do you just end up in a city in 2 months time and book a flight home then? Or do you book it in advance and base the trip around cathcing your flight in 2 months ?

    • Tom says:

      Hey mate! No questions are silly if you’ve never done it before :)

      If I knew I was only going for 2 months, then I would book my flight home in advance and work my trip with that. The only reason for this is the difference in cost for a long flight booked well in advance as opposed to one booked for tomorrow or next week can be astronomical. I’m a budget traveller so I often end up working my trips around the ‘big’ flights – there’s still loads of room to be spontaneous and not book everything in that 2 month period! :D The only other tip with booking ahead to keep in mind is that if you’re visiting like Barcelona or Amsterdam on a weekend in July/August – you might want to book that.. but don’t stress out about it or anything – Europe is a big place :)

  13. Zed says:

    Hi Tom,

    Fantastic post, it has been a great deal of help to me. I am heading off to Europe in July backpacking alone for the first time so I’m pretty daunted by a lot of things… I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing!

    My question is about the Schengen Visa… I am planning to be overseas for five months but only in the Schengen area for about three months of that time. I actually enquired to the German consulate about getting a visa and the lady said that if it was only a three month period and then I’m heading to the UK (non-Schengen area) then I would not require a Schengen visa.

    Ultimately I just wanted to double check that this was your understanding of it… I don’t want to get caught unawares when I’m trying to enter a country. Do you think I should get a Schengen Visa just in case?

    Cheers,

    Zed

    • Tom says:

      Hiya Zed,

      Thanks for dropping in :) Visas can get a bit confusing in Europe, which is I think why they came up with the Schengen in the first place.

      Essentially, travelling on an Australian passport is quite nice for Europe (unless you’ve got an EU passport)…Australians can stay in the Schengen zone for 90 out of each 180 days.

      For something a bit more official to ease your mind: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/TravelBulletins/Europe_Schengen

      As long as 90 days or less is all you’re planning for this stage of the trip, you won’t need a Schengen visa :)

  14. karl compton says:

    hello. just wanted to say fantastic post. i came across it cos i’m thinking of going backpacking on my own next year for as long as i can. I live in the UK and planning to travel however i would only have approx £2.500 realistically how long would that last if i did everything cheap. Also is it easy to find work for a week or so, so i can earn a little more cash for my next destination cos i wanna see as much of Europe as possible.

    • Tom says:

      Hey Karl, cool to hear you’re planning to head off backpacking to Europe! Check out this post, I did up some tables and broke down the costs of my last trip so you might find that useful. If you’re willing to travel budget then that can last you a reasonable amount of time for sure.

      Not sure about working for just around a week, working for that short a period of time and then moving on is not something I’ve done before – but there are other jobs for longer periods (3 – 4 weeks) like fruit & grape picking and that sort of thing to be found around Europe. You might also like to check out WWOOF’ing, that allows you to work on someone’s property (generally in a rural location) for a week or two (or even longer) in exchange for food and board and a bit more of a local experience. Best of luck with it all, let me know if you have any other questions!

  15. Kyle says:

    Hiya,

    Me and a friend are talking about going backpacking for the first time to Euroupe and also talking about camping out while we are there would you recomend this?. Also do you know if there is anything that stops you working in differnt countys if you are from the Eu because iv seen alot of differnt sites and hardly any have the same information, we got no set plans on where we want to go as of yet and will proberly just wing it, but knowing if we able to work there would be a great help =)

    Thanks, Kyle.

  16. Kane Jules says:

    What was the longest time you spent in one place during your year long European trip? Any place that you wish you stayed for a longer or shorter time?

    Great article, extremely helpful and insightful.

    • Tom says:

      Hey Kane, I spent a lot of time in France (as I did a lot of WWOOF’ing there) and in Spain (mostly Barcelona and around the Costa Brava region where we were camping). Both of those areas were great, but I would have loved to have had more time to explore the south of Spain. It was quite an easy going trip, since I was travelling mostly without solid plans – if I liked a place, I just stayed there until I wanted to leave :) It’s a nice way to travel!

  17. Reshmi Shekhar says:

    Hey Tom!

    Great read =) Thanks for the tips! I’m going backpacking with a couple of friends this summer so looking for all the help I can get now.

    Just wondering, have you couchsurfed when in Europe? How safe was it? And did it help in terms of seeing parts of that city/country that you would have otherwise missed?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Tom says:

      Hey Reshmi, thanks for stopping by!

      We are part of the CouchSurfing community here in Rotterdam, so I have hosted a few times. Haven’t Couch Surfed Europe extensively myself (as a guest) yet but it’s on the plan for future trips. It’s definitely safe, just use common sense and read the reviews and look for positive feedback on their wall. You may want to consider hosting first if you plan on surfing, as people are more likely to want to host you if you have hosted others first.

      It’s a great way to meet some cool people who know where to go out/eat/drink in a new city and teach you something about it you prob wouldn’t learn at a hostel! It’s best when you mix up Surfing with hostel dorms I think, so not all one or the other…because it’s also fun to meet lots of other backpackers from around the world too! Although you’ll be hard pressed to find a hostel in Europe that isn’t full of Aussies ;)

  18. chaya sara says:

    hey tom,
    great article! last summer i backpacked with a eurorail pass for 3 countries and it was amazing. This summer i will be in spain and portugal for 3 weeks. I was wondering if it would be cheaper and easier if i booked a spain and portugal open railpass or will i be fine booking either a train or bus as i go. Also what was your favorite city in spain and do you know what the cheapest route to ibiza is?
    thanks

    • Tom says:

      Heya Chaya,

      You can definitely get by without a Eurorail pass in Spain & Portugal. The buses in Spain are really good actually and a lot easier on the budget.

      My favourite city in Spain is Barcelona :) It’s awesome! San Sebastian comes a close second.

      I haven’t personally been to Ibiza, but having a quick research look for you, flying from Barcelona might be a good option – looks like you can get flights with Ryan Air or Vueling for like 25 – 35 Euros! Good luck :)

      • Lynn says:

        Hey Tom, I recently ran into your website while starting to planning a backpacking trip this spring/summer. I love it a lot, and it seems like it’s goona be a big help!

        But honestly, the reason I’m commenting on this particular post is that I went to San Sebastian last year and I LOVED it! So I just wanted to shout out at a fellow San Sebastian-lover! ;D

  19. Sarah H says:

    Hi Tom!
    This site is fantastic!! Most useful information i have come across.
    My partner and i are off in 8 weeks to Europe for 1 year – 18months ! Altho we are in the process of gaining a 2 year youth mobility working visa for the UK, working over there is not a priority, more an obligation if it comes to it. We are looking to purchase a vehicle – something we can sleep in to save on accom costs. But as it draws nearer i am starting to worry if we will have enough money, including for fuel as well… i read $100 pp as a rough guide – but do you think this will go up by much when incorpoarting fuel costs?
    Im staring at the EU map now, and i want to go(and experience) EVERYWHERE! do you think im being a bit too hopeful ill get to see it all before running out of $
    I also have no itinerary, just the can not miss events – tomatina, running with bulls, oktoberfest etc. Any suggestions??

    • Tom says:

      Thanks Sarah, that’s really nice of you to say.

      Sounds like a real adventure you have coming up, I’m envious :)

      I can’t help too much with the specifics on the car thing, as it’s not something I’ve done personally. I like the train/plane system in Europe for getting around, but if you guys are comfortable driving then that’s AWESOME! You can definitely save loads by sleeping in a car/van itself and park it at camp sites when needed. I think $100 pp per day is definitely doable with fuel as well – you could do some really cheap days by making your own food, sleeping in the car etc.

      I think the best thing to do is just GO, you obviously have some money saved up so just do it and don’t get stressed out about exact budgets and all of this sort of thing. You can easily make the effort to go super budget at any point in the trip if it’s needed – just be near a beach or somewhere relaxing whilst doing it! I always just think what’s the WORST that can happen when it comes to budgeting, and that’s hitting a bit of credit and using it to go home if I absolutely have to… it’s not the end of the world and it’s way more likely it won’t come to that. Europe will still be there in a year or twenty!

      In terms of can not miss events, well Europe has a massive selection to satiate the buds of almost everyone. I covered music and party festivals on the blog already. I think with a car the real fun will come with the number of smaller, out of the capital city cultural events you will be able to sink your teeth into – the car can be a real advantage for that sort of stuff!

  20. Joshua says:

    Thanks for the info Tom! I like how you reply to everyone’s posts. You truly have a passion for travel, and this is very helpful for me. Now, as I am a noob to this, and I plan on dropping everything here in Canada (eh!) to go to Europe for a bit, I am looking for advice with a few things that I was thinking about. Forgive me if you posted the answer to this already and/or it’s a stupid question, but here goes:

    1.) Do you have any links to websites for places that offer temporary jobs so that I could extend my stay if I wanted to? I saw the post where you mentioned WWOOF, but I tried googling it, and wasn’t sure if I got the right site.

    2.) Is the Schengen Visa meant for travel documentation purposes only or is it used like a work visa? If they cannot be used to get work, what documents are required if I intend on working in various countries across Europe if it is possible? (I read somewhere about a work permit requirement, but you can only pick one country to work in with it)

    3.) What are your thoughts on travelling during the winter season? Is it a bad idea? Are jobs hard to find? Is there any location(s) you could go to avoid cold climates, possibly in the southern regions of Europe?

    4.) With the Eurorail pass, the site suggests reserving seats on trains that require reservations even though you have the pass. Do you have any experience with that?

    5.) My co-worker, who worked for an Embassy once, suggested to submit my information online prior to leaving so they know I am there, have a general idea of where I am going, and will be prepared if I need medical assistance or other emergency issues. Again, what are your thoughts on that?

    Forgive all the questions, like I said I am a European virgin, but thanks for any help in this matter! I probably have more questions, but can’t think of any more at this moment.

    Josh

    • Tom says:

      Hey Joshua, no stupid questions here! Happy to answer them all as best I can :)

      1.) The official WWOOF site is: http://wwoof.org/ – so check it out for 4-6 hours of work a day in a unique place in exchange for food/board. Will definitely help extend your stay if you wanted to.

      2.) The Schengen Visa is just for travel, you cannot work on this visa. In terms of a work visa, it is country specific. The best thing you could get is a European passport as this will allow you to work anywhere within the EU (European Union). If this is not possible (either of your parents from an EU country?), you might want to look into a country specific work visa – but it could be difficult. Easiest one to get is probably the 2 year UK working visa. You might want to consider WWOOF/CouchSuring etc and just do some real budget travelling instead.

      3.) No time in Europe is a bad idea, but it does depend on what you want out of the trip. If you love Skiing and snow and rugging up, then Winter in Europe would be awesome. Seen as you’re from Canada – maybe you’ve had enough of this already haha :D I personally love Summer in Europe, and would suggest the months between May –> October as a good time to visit. Still, Winter is great for other reasons too! You can avoid the cold during winter by heading to Southern Spain or Portugal where temps during winter are normally around 13 – 17 Degrees Celsius (so still a little wintery ;))

      4.) Yes, the Eurorail passes can be a bit confusing when it comes to this issue (I feel a post coming on). I’ve done a bit of research on it and it depends on the type of train you’re catching as to whether you need to make a reservation. Some trains you can just jump on, others need you to reserve in advance (and even cost a bit on top of the pass you’ve already paid for to do this). Take a read of this: http://www.raileurope.com/rail-help/how-to/reservation-explained-you-should-read-this-really.html

      5.) I’ve never reported myself as leaving to my Embassy, I’ve always assumed that they record me leaving the country via my passport. Could be worth a quick phone call to them though if you want to ensure your embassy knows you are on the move. What I would recommend though is getting travel insurance that covers you for emergency medical\evacuation etc whilst you travel. Never actually needed it of course, but you don’t want to be in a foreign country racking up a huge medical bill. I have a friend who went to The States, forgot to renew her travel insurance and then broke her leg Skiing! She still has a $10k bill owed there I believe :p

      Hope this helps, any other questions just shoot!

      Cheers,
      Tom

  21. Cristina says:

    Thanks Tom! This is a straight forward advice and you made our planning less complex.

    Ta.
    Cristina

  22. Briony says:

    Hi there, For the last hour I have been working my through all of your articles. I am very impressed, by far the best advice I have found online. Very clear, concise and helpful. I am planning my Europe trip for 2013 spring to autumn for about 6 months. I am hoping to do some WOOFing at a couple of places while I’m there to save a bit of money. Any advice on how to pick places to go? I had a look at the website and its very extensive. Also any tips on the language. Many people tell me that everyone in Europe speaks English but I’m not sure whether I buy this or not. Should I buy a phrase book?

    Thanks for the brilliant advice so far.

    • Tom says:

      Hey Briony, it’s so awesome to hear that my articles have been useful and helpful to your upcoming backpacking adventure :D

      WWOOF’ing is definitely worth it! If you have the time I would try a few different places on your 6 month trip. In terms of choosing a place, the farm/property gets to write a review about them and their area, so pick places that resonate well with you and offer something that you would like to experience and be a part of. In the end it’s just people, so you will have some AMAZING places and other places that are not as good.

      So what about speaking English? Absolutely you can get by with just English in Europe but to say that EVERYONE speaks English is a bit of an exaggeration. The majority of the young generation have quite good English skills, especially around Scandinavia and The Netherlands/Belgium. However it’s perfectly normal to run into people that do not speak a lot of English if any at all.

      In my opinion you should at least try to speak a bit in the local language, even if it’s just hello and thank you! The locals will appreciate it, and it’s fun anyways. So should you buy a little phrase book? Absolutely, they’re fun and inexpensive – go for it :)

  23. Jess says:

    I have been thinking about going backpacking and your post is amazing and you sound like an amazing post. I am thinking about working for a bit before I plan anything but I am going to read and re-read this post over and over if I decide to go. You have reniforced my want to travel, Thank you Thank you.

    • Tom says:

      Hey Jess! That’s so awesome to hear, I’m stoked you will get so much value from the post. If you have any specific questions at all feel free to e-mail me!

  24. David says:

    Hey Tom, thanks for the post. I was looking for some tips on large tour operators and you delivered. I’ll definitely be checking out Contiki and Busabout further. Keep up the great work on the blog!

    -David

  25. ben says:

    hi tom,
    last night i read ur artilce how to travel to europe, and i was very much motivated and confident cos it was very informative and indepth, in my comment i asked u whether i should go backpacking or with a package tour as i was very confused, but after reading theis article i have made up my mind that i will travel as a backpacker for the following reasons. i am around 36yrs so i dont know when in future i will have opportunity to travel as backpacker so i dont want to miss out on the adventure and experience as a backpacker which i will share with my kids, i will increase my travel time upto 15 days so i have around 3 days in each ciy to explore the culture, i will start my journey from london, amsterdam,paris,geneva,venice,rome, kindly advice minimum how much funds i should have and is it ok to travel by coach cos i want to explore by road, thanks

    • Tom says:

      Hey Ben! Thanks for stopping in, let me see if I can help you out.

      It’s great you’re deciding to go backpacking by yourself instead of a packaged tour, that’s the way to go in my humble opinion.

      Check out this article in terms of an idea of how much funds to bring with you: Average Cost of Backpacking Europe. I normally recommend around $70 – $100 a day but you can definitely do it with less, it all depends on you. Cooking your own meals at a hostel is obviously going to be cheaper than eating out, but when in Italy & Paris it can be nice to treat yourself every now and then too ;)

      Travelling by coach around Europe is certainly do-able, EuroLines has some comprehensive international busroutes, and you might want to check out Busabout as well and see what they can offer you.

      Hope this helps Ben! All the best with the trip :)

  26. Tom says:

    hi tom
    just wondering is it better to go backpacking individuality or with a friend ?

    • Tom says:

      Hey Tom! Thanks for stopping by, both are great for different reasons. Going backpacking with a friend can be an awesome experience, it allows you guys to look out for each other and share loads of great stories in the future to come! However backpacking alone can also be very character building and can often mean that you will meet more people on the road and in hostels. Neither is right or wrong or better or worse, just simply different ways to do it! I would personally suggest just doing both :) Do a trip with a friend first perhaps and then go it alone at another time once you’re comfortable with the idea of travelling.

  27. Madeleine says:

    Hi,
    You’re blog has some really valuable information that I am really glad I came across.
    I wanted to ask a few questions,
    I am hoping to travel around July from Melbourne and backpack around Europe for 5 months, tickets are going to be quite expensive as I can imagine living expenses will be during the peak season. If I really wanted to go on the cheap, do you still think that 80 euro a day would suffice? I was thinking of taking around $10,000AUD.

    Secondly, as I am female and will be travelling alone I am going to prebook many of the hostels I will stay at, would you say the best place to do that is online ?

    Thanks sooo much!

    • Tom says:

      Hey Madeleine!

      You can definitely do it way cheaper than 80 Euros a day, that figure also includes all transport costs and that sort of thing. In reality, if you cook lots of your own meals at hostels and don’t buy drinks out, search out free museum nights and other free things to do you can make that budget stretch a lot more :D

      In terms of booking hostels ahead of time (a good idea in peak seasons of July/August in cities like Barcelona and Amsterdam), the best place to do that is without a doubt online! Either Hostelworld or Hostelbookers is the way to go.

      Let me know if you have any other questions, a 5 month trip will be awesome and you’ll have a great time! :)

      Cheers,
      Tom

  28. Vin says:

    Hey Tom, thanks for all the helpful information. Unfortunately I cannot spend such a large amount of time in Europe, but I would still love to backpack it! I was thinking of a 3 week trip just to get acquainted with it. A couple questions regarding this:

    Is this too short of a time? Will I have the ability to see enough?

    Is it necessary to get visas for such a short trip?

    The countries do not really matter to me, any suggestions for an itinerary? I want to see as much as possible in this span.

    Thanks again!

    • Tom says:

      Hey Vin!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      A 3 week trip is a short time in Europe, but it’s certainly enough to get a feeling for what Europe is all about. In 3 weeks you can choose a few of the major cities to visit or three or four countries. You certainly won’t be able to “see it all”, I didn’t feel like I saw enough of it and I lived there for over a year!

      Visas all depend on which country you herald from. If you’re from Australia, USA or Canada for example, you generally don’t need a visa for Western European (Schengen) countries if you’re spending less than 30 days there. It’s a good idea to do a quick check online once you have an idea of what countries you will be visiting however.

      There are a couple of itineraries listed here in this article, otherwise it depends on what you’re into. If you love beers and hearty warm foods a trip through Belgium, The Netherlands & Germany could be nice. Otherwise Italy, France, Spain is another great option for a completely different experience. I wouldn’t try to do TOO much in a 3-week span, or you’ll be spending the whole time on a train or bus instead of seeing a place! Hope this helps, Vin!

      • Vin says:

        Thanks! I was thinking of doing Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and Luxembourg or Denmark. I’m glad you brought that up, very reassuring. Again thanks, every article was helpful and very informative!

        • Tom says:

          No worries, Vin, thanks for your nice comments :) That sounds like a cool itinerary, you’ll have an awesome time! Give me a shout if you have anymore questions.

          • Vin says:

            One more question for you then, if you do not mind. What is your opinion on flying stand-by?

          • Tom says:

            Hey Vin, flying stand-by is not actually something I’ve looked into or done, so can’t really shed any personal experiences on that. It seems like a neat idea if you figure out how to do it properly though!

  29. Karis says:

    Hey Tom, just randomly came across your article after surfing the web for days trying to find something useful and i found it super helpful, i’ve recommended it to all my traveling buddies!
    I was also wondering if u owned the site?

  30. Sammi says:

    Hi Tom,
    Great blog, I’m very impressed that you take the time to reply to each question. I’m from Brisbane and plan to go to Europe in may for 5 – 6 months roughly. However I had planned on spending most of my time backpacking through Eastern Europe as it will be cheaper than places like Paris. I have just noted your comments about the Schegen visa. Being only 90 days in the zone. By this do you mean 90 days altogether for all countries that cover the Schegen area? When I was researching on the smart traveller website, I thought it was 90 days per schegen country with no visa. But after reading your post I think I may be incorrect with this??

    I will probably book two or three tours to begin with as its my first trip and I’m travelling alone, but I will leave space inbetween each so that I can do my own thing and wing it. The countries that I had planned were the Schegen countries (no specific duration) but I’m guessing I will not be allowed in these countries longer than 90 days altogether? I then planned on staying in bosnia for a month, followed by Serbia and Croatia. On the smart traveller website it says 90 days stay allowed with no visa, but is this similar to the Schegen countries where it’s actually only 90 days for all of the Balkan countries.

    Also followed up by visits to turkey where I hope to work, any advice whether I should prearrange work there before I go or is it easy enough to find?

    Lastly on my list is Croatia, am I correct in that i can turn up with no visa as I plan to stay only a month there?

    I will be travelling on an Australian passport. However my grandfather is Scottish so I want to apply for a uk ancestry visa, will this allow me the benefits of travelling to eu countries without visas? Also do you know if it’s difficult to find work before arriving in the uk? As to have a job lined up in Scotland is a prerequisite before the visa will be approved so I’m a bit nervous about this.

    Basically I plan to spend 5 months in Europe then go to Scotland on my uk ancestry visa (when I have almost run out of money) to work and live. I am yet to book my tickets as I can’t work out whether to book a ticket then plan it or plan it all then book, as ticket prices are probably getting more expensive by the day.

    I’m sorry for all of the questions, ive read so many travel blogs lately but yours really caught my eye so thought id see if you might know any of the answers.

    Thanks once again for such a brilliant blog!

    Sammi

    • Tom says:

      Heya Sammi!

      Eastern Europe is definitely cheaper than places like Paris (although Paris is worth seeing, you could try CouchSurfing or camping there to make it cheaper) – so if you have a low budget that’s a great idea :)

      Let me see if I can address some of your questions:

      90 days Schengen. There are 2 things to realise here. One is that your Australian passport will naturally give you access to many countries in Europe without the need for a visa, not every country is the same so that means a bit of research on your part. The reason the Schengen Visa can make things a bit easier is that you KNOW that you’re allowed into all the countries listed in the “Schengen” area without worrying about whether your Aussie passport allows you access or not.

      The Schengen Visa only gives you 90 days in a 180 day period to be in the “Schengen” area. Longer than that and you’re over-staying your visa. The Schengen is designed for people who are going to be travelling to Europe for 1 – 3 months and it’s a great, easy way to get access to all those countries.

      Since you’re staying longer, you have a few options. Some tailored advice for you since you plan on exploring Eastern Europe a lot is to get a “multiple entry Schengen visa” which allows you to come in and out for a total period of 90 days (to be used in 180 days) but this means you can go to places like Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria & Romania WITHOUT USING UP your 90 days in the Schengen area (as these countries are not “Schengen). Does that make sense? That should allow you to explore the countries that are PART of the Schengen and then explore other Eastern European countries just using your Australian passport (check if a Visa is required for each country, it’s NOT required in Croatia for example where you get 30 days using your passport) and to come in and out of the Schengen as you please.

      After your 5 months is up then hit up Scotland/UK with your ancestry visa. Trudy (my girlfriend) has one of those and they were not to hard to get and valid for 5 years! I don’t know about having a job lined up, our experience is that Trudy got a UK visa through her English grandparent and she didn’t have to have a job lined up at all to get it approved.

      Other options:
      a) I believe you can get a 1 year working holiday visa for the Schengen. Since you can get a UK ancestry visa I would prob go with the above multiple entry Schengen.

      Hope this helps you out Sammi! Gonna be an awesome trip coming up!

  31. Nat says:

    Hi Tom,

    I just found your guid then after hours of coutless searching for a good guid to backpacking and finaly I found it! I’m planing on back packing next year around Europe, I’m from Austraila to! :) I’m heaps excited and your guid has helped me a crap load! Thanks again!

    • Tom says:

      Hey Nat, that’s AWESOME! :) Thanks heaps for the kind words and taking the time to leave a comment, it helps keep me going with the writing and blogging! If you have any specific questions, just shoot.

  32. Alice says:

    This is the best post/website I’ve seen on this, thank you so much! I’ve been on for about an hour already, with 8 tabs opened up to go through.

    One thing I didn’t see addressed so far is using your cell phone. I’m staying for about 6 weeks, should I change my plan to make it international? What am I looking at for cost? Did you find yourself using your phone a lot to call back?

    Thanks so much, for everything!!

    • Tom says:

      Hey Alice! Thanks for the kind words – I appreciate it :)

      I’ve never used my SIM card/phone plan to call home as the rates are normally horrendous (in fact since I travel a lot, I tend to avoid locked-in plans altogether and often use pre-paid, but NOT to call home :D). What I would suggest is:

      a) Contact your phone plan provider or go on their website and check their T&C’s for how much it would cost you to call internationally, I think you’ll find it ridiculous. Like $3 – $5 a minute! You don’t want to get caught out with some insane bill.

      b) Bring your phone along with you BUT turn international roaming off and throw it into aeroplane mode (just to be safe) and turn Wifi ON. Then just use the wifi found all over Europe, at hostels and in cafes etc for the internet. You can also use Skype directly from your phone using wifi to call home. Another thing to do is simply pick up a cheap international calling card and do it that way for decent rates.

  33. ruben ortega says:

    Hey tom
    thanks for the tips and advice.. Im traveling to europe during sept to oct is that a good time to travel.. would you recommend any festival or special event during that time?

  34. Lee Lopez says:

    Awesome site and great tips :)
    I am planning my very first trip to Europe, and coming from Asia, it is no easy task…
    I’d love to get your advice on a shorter trip (2 weeks) that would incorporate major cities if possible.
    I am at this point, simply clueless :)

    Thank you!
    Lee

    • Tom says:

      Hey Lee! Shorter trips to Europe are definitely do-able, but my advice would be to not try and squeeze TOO much into a 2 week trip. Pick an area you want to explore (don’t try and do all of Europe in 2 weeks – not possible!).

      For example, you could go to Amsterdam (Netherlands) [train to] –> Paris (France) [fly to] –> Barcelona [bus to] –> Madrid –> [bus or train to] –> Lisbon [fly BACK to] –> Amsterdam/Paris –> home.

      Even that’s quite a busy trip for 2 weeks, but certainly do-able, it has a real focus on the “cities” of each country and nothing else. All the areas easily link together transport wise.

      If you have other areas in mind, just use the same concept but go Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich and back to Paris. You get the idea :)

      Hope this helps, Lee!

  35. Chariska says:

    HEY TOM:D!!!

    I read your entire article and made A LOT of notes! I’m 16 and Planning on going the year I turn 18 so yeah I’m a little early with gathering information , but hey it couldn’t hurt.. So thanks your article helped me more than any of the other 100 places I’ve tried! Keep righting!*:)

    • Tom says:

      Hey Chariska! That’s awesome – it’s great to hear you’re getting excited already even though it’s a while off! I remember how excited I was before my first big trip when I was 18. You’re going to have an awesome time – if you have any questions at all just comment here or shoot me an e-mail! :D

  36. Christina says:

    Thanks Tom for this detailed information, it is always nice to have a check list to make sure every thing goes according to plan especially when planning a travel.

  37. Jeremy Parris says:

    Thanks Tom!!! I’m 19 and am planning a trip to Dublin and the UK this summer and this article summed up everything I’ve read so far plus so much more, including all your other great articles, so thanks for sharing the knowledge! Quick question though, would you recommend any places is either Ireland or the UK? And second question, this may sound ignorant but i’ve just never done anything like this before, but during the day do you carry your backpack around all day with you? or is there better places to store it and what not? Thanks again Tom! keep up the writing!

    • Tom says:

      Hiya Jeremy! Yep, lotsa places worth checking out in the UK. Head to Edinburgh in Scotland, and I loved Galway in Ireland when I visited. Cork was a bit of fun as well (but we were there mostly because we had an epic cheap flight leaving from Cork to Germany!). London of course, is a given.

      During the day you leave your backpack at the hostel. Don’t leave loads of valuables in it, just clothes etc. Most hostels provide lockers to put things of value – it’s also common to have a “day pack” (a smaller pack) which you use to carry water/food/phone/other stuff – if you want to keep your passport close to you, use a money belt. To be honest though, I often leave it locked up at the lockers back in the hostel. Hope this helps matey, good luck with the trip!

  38. Neha says:

    Hey Tom,

    You’re articles are so helpful!!
    My friend and I are planning on backpacking through Western Europe for a month in Aug. 2013 for the first time and I have a lot of questions!!

    1. We are thinking about traveling to Paris, Lux, Munich, Bern, four cities in Italy, and end in Valencia. Is this too much? Do you recommend the global eurail pass? Is it cheaper to buy train tickets as we go?

    2. Both of us have US passports so we don’t need the Schengen Visa right?

    3. Is it cheaper to book hostel rooms ahead of time or is it the same cost to book them as we go?

    Thank you so much for all your help!!

    • Tom says:

      Hey Neha :)

      Sounds so good – let me see if I can help!

      1. I don’t think this is too much for a month long trip. Definitely do-able.

      2. Yes – most of the Western Europe countries don’t require a visa and give you a certain amount of days you can visit “visa-free” (all within the “Schengen” area). Double check each country you plan on visiting individually that entering visa free won’t be a problem.

      3. Hostel rooms normally fluctuate only by low season, mid season and peak season. August is still around peak season – so for hostels it’s NOT cheaper to book in advance, and it can certainly be fun just showing up in a city and finding a hotel – but you may want to book ahead for some cities such as Amsterdam & Barcelona.

      Hope this helps :)

  39. Celeste says:

    This site is so helpful. I’m in the beginning stages of planning a backpacking trip for myself and my daughter. She will be 15 when we make our journey. Any advice for a mother/daughter duo?? I want this to be the adventure of a lifetime for her. Something she will remember for the rest of her life.

  40. Olivier says:

    Hi,first of all thank you this site is very helpful. I have a question. I’m an 18 years old french canadian and I expect to do packpack trip to Europe next year. I’m interested to visit countries like Italy, Slovenia, Craotia and Greece. I speak both french and english, do you think that i’ll have any communication problems or they also speak english?

  41. Bronwen says:

    Hello, Thanks for posting this awesome guide. I’ve spent the last 2 hours reading through every single one of your articles, so useful and I’ve picked up a lot of tips.

    I’m from the UK and have never done much travelling but now I’ve finished uni, its seems just the right time to go. I’m thinking of going this year in May. Couple of quick questions. I have £2000 saved up, If I do everything quite cheaply, how many months do you think this will last me? I’m hoping for 5 or 6 months.

    Also I’ll be travelling alone and a little nervous about it, any tips? I’ll be starting in Amsterdam as the coaches are cheapest to get there, but from then I’m just going to go wherever I feel like but I’m worried that I’ll turn up somewhere and all the hostels will be full, is it better to plan ahead?

    Cheers.

    • Trudy says:

      Hi Bronwen,

      That sounds awesome, we love the idea of just travelling with no itinerary.

      We spent about $100 a day so the euro will get you a little bit further – have a look here.
      http://www.activebackpacker.com/1014/the-average-cost-of-backpacking-across-europe-an-indepth-look-at-my-2-month-trip/

      You will be fine travelling on your own. Of course take the obvious precautions but you will definitely meet people in hostels and then you will have some new travel friends. If you are flexible you can always change your plans to travel with new friends which is a lot of fun. The only places you should book ahead for hostels is Amsterdam, Paris and Barcelona. They seem to book out really far ahead – especially in Summer.

      Would you be interested in couchsurfing? it’s a great way to make your money last longer.

      Enoy!

      - Trudy

      • Wong says:

        Truly..thanks.the sound look nice.. Nice place..nice people…l like it too.. But I like quit..sure I like make friend too..isn’t.have to became member.at first?oo forgot to ask u 5 qus. Ha! Where u stay..now my county time is midnight..at 2.45..may I know what time is suitable chat with u…

  42. Wong says:

    Hi…thank for posing awesome guide.. Im wong .also the first time Go there …this. came ing 18 Mach.2013I plant to travelling south..eurape around 3weeks…at first I will fly to Paris…after that trian to lyon.. Kouwing u can help me ..what idea to link together transport wise..the end jannal at place in rom( home)Malaysia is it possible. ..tq again

  43. Maggie says:

    Hello!

    Me and two of my girlfriends are planning on going backpacking for a month around europe. Since our time to stay is so short would you recommend using the eurail pass?

    • Tom says:

      Hoi Maggie! Thanks for coming by, awesome to hear you’re off travelling with some girlfriends. Whether to get a rail pass or not comes down to how often you plan on moving around and how many countries you want to see. A global pass for one month will give you unlimited access to Europe, but does cost a bit – if you use it a tonne it will easily be a benefit to the budget. If you’re a slower traveller and only want to see a few of the major cities, you might want to use a combo of cheap buses & flights.

      My suggestion: Do a bit of quick research, list out what countries you want to see & then check out the prices for flights on Skyscanner/Kayak for the longer hauls and make a little list of bus companies that operate in the countries and spend half hour adding up prices. See what you come up with comparing those to the cost of a global pass. Also, check out the EuroLines Global Pass and the BusAbout Loops.

  44. Becks says:

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for all the great advice here. Me and my boyfriend are currently planning a trip around Europe, we’re from the UK so will be leaving here out but thought I’d share a tip for anyone in the same position as us. If from UK (possibly other places in the EU) then you can get a European Health Card which is free and entitles you to health costs at the basic cost of the country, which can make your your travel insurance health cost allowance go much further if God forbid you end up in a situation where you need to use it.

    Could I ask if you have ever hired a car? At the moment that is what we are looking at, and driving from destination to destination, rather than flying. If you have drove in Europe, would love to know what companies you used.

    Thanks for the great advice – without a doubt the best articles we have found and we have been looking for a while!

  45. Rachel says:

    Hi!
    I found this so helpful! I am currently in the very early stages of planning my trip, and there are so many cities I want to see (so far there are 17 on my list)! I have to end in Israel, so I was planning my trip along that route, and I had a couple of questions…
    1. How many days would you suggest I stay in a city? I might be travelling alone, so I was only planning on staying 2 days in each place before moving on, but I feel like that’s too short. What do you suggest?
    2. I plan on mostly taking buses or trains to get from place to place, are there specific passes that I can use for both types of transportation?

    Thanks for all of the help!

    • Tom says:

      Hey Rachel!

      Let me see if I can help :)

      1) How many days in a city is always a tough one when travelling for the first time. I do actually recommend 3-4 days for some of the European cities like Rome, Barcelona, Paris, London etc. The thing to allow for is TRAVEL time, if you are staying 2 nights in a city but don’t arrive until late in the afternoon, realistically you’re only really getting one full day. It’s better to allow a bit more time for some of the cities that you will want to explore. You can spend a week in Paris & Rome and still have a tonne of things to do, but yeah, definitely more than 2 days for some cities ;) I would suggest 3-4 as above.

      2) There isn’t a pass that combines buses AND trains, your best bet would be to get a “select” pass that gives you a set amount of travel days with the train (a travel day is a 24 hour period where you can use the train). Then combine that with the cheaper bus tickets. Or if you want to go bus all the way, it’s possible to get a global bus pass with EuroLines. A combo of both is a nice way to go though.

      Hope this helps Rachel! Just ask away if you have anymore questions.

  46. Jamie says:

    Hi Tom,
    I am a 50 year old man with a hall pass from my wife and kids to backpack for 3 weeks in Europe. It’s a bucket list thing ! Did you run into many older people staying in the hostels? I’m young for my age and on a budget but don’t want to creep out the youngies if older people just don’t stay there.
    Also, I have a Kiwi passport but am a long time Aussie resident for 40 years (too lazy to change it). Would you know if Kiwis have the same liberties with the Schengen visa as Aussie passport holders?
    Awesome website dude, cheers !

    • Tom says:

      Hey Jamie! That’s rocking to hear you’ve wrangled yourself a 3 week backpacking trip to Europe! Trudy and I have definitely run into lots of older people who are backpacking around – there’s no “age requirement” for being a backpacker, anyone who says otherwise is an idiot!

      Some hostels do have an age limit (normally the real party hostels), generally of around 30. But there are tonnes of other, more laid back hostels where it won’t be an issue at all. You’ll only creep out the youngies if you be creepy, but being creepy is definitely not determined by age ;)

      NZ/Aussie passports are very similar when it comes to Europe (thanks Commonwealth!). If you’re going to be in the Schengen area for less than 3 months you don’t actually NEED a visa at all – it’s visa free :) For more info on that check out these resources:

      http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/destinations/europetips.shtml
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_requirements_for_New_Zealand_citizens

      Have an awesome trip mate!!

  47. Michelle says:

    Have you ever heard of statravel.com for student travel? If so what have you heard

    • Tom says:

      Hey Michelle, yep, I’ve heard of them. Definitely not a scam or anything, if that’s what you’re thinking. I believe I even booked the flight for my first European backpacking trip through one of their Australian branches, got a decent deal for a London return ticket with Thai Airways.

  48. Kevin says:

    Hi Tom.
    Thank you for writing a very informative and interesting article. I am on my gap year, having finished year 12, and am leaving to travel for 5 months at the end of April with a mate, stopping over in Malaysia and Turkey before heading into Europe, concluding at Oktoberfest in Germany. It’s a real pain that without a EU passport that I can only stay for 90 days in those countries but I still can’t wait to go. Thank you once again for the helpful tips!

  49. Meredith says:

    Hey Tom!

    Thanks for the amazing advice! I’m planning a 5-6 week backpacking adventure in Europe in June/July. I had a question about camping. I’d love to be able to camp, but since I’m flying from the U.S I can’t bring any camping supplies with me. Is there a way I can still camp even if I don’t have a tent or sleeping bag? Are there cabins or anything, or any camp sites that provides areas?

    Thanks!

    • Tom says:

      Hey Meredith! To be honest, if you’re going to be travelling without a tent and sleeping bag you might prefer to simply stay in hostels. The main reason I camped was to keep the budget down and to be near the beach! If it’s the nature and that sort of thing you’re after I’m sure you can find cabins or tents already made (those types of things can often be expensive though) in certain areas, might have to do a bit of research! Most campsites in Europe require your to bring along your own tent! Let me know if you have any other questions!

  50. karen says:

    Hello Tom,
    I am 50 yrs old & I am looking to take a risk by myself. I soo want to tour/backpack europe. I have a pack, sleeping bag, tent & all the other stuff that goes with hiking. However I am looking to do this by myself with hopes to meet peeps on the way. Can you please give me some advise on this with my age in to consideration. This web site was very hopeful. Thanks for all you can pass my way. Do you recommend that I go to a travel agent? Karen

    • Tom says:

      Hi Karen! The best place to meet people is normally in hostels, but they are often a younger crowd – that’s not to say older people are not welcome. Some hostels do impose an age limit of 30 and under, but these are often the party hostels that you’re probably not interested in anyway. There are many relaxed and friendly hostels to stay in, where you will meet travellers of all kinds both young and old!

      Camping is also popular in Europe, although it can be a little harder to meet people sometimes. I would suggest doing some internet research on walking/hiking groups in Europe that you could join up with, also look into CouchSurfing meet ups in the various cities around the world – they’re always a great mix of welcoming people.

      Hope this helps Karen, and good luck with the trip (I don’t think a travel agent is needed for what you’re planning. They tend to specialise in tour package groups and that sort of thing).

  51. Kristen says:

    Tom
    all this information is bloody FANTASTIC!!!! And will definitely come in handy for my 2 months in Europe, starting in turkey for ANZAC Day. Although I haven’t got a backpack, I have a slimline suitcase, I’m a fan of wheels, cause I’ve done the backpack thing before, didn’t quite work for me haha. But I had a question, have you had an experience with ferries from Turkey to Greece and Greece to Italy?

    • Tom says:

      Hey Kristen! Thanks for the lovely words – appreciate it :) Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of experience with ferries from Turkey/Greece, sorry! I would recommend trying the ThornTree Forums on Lonely Planet and getting some advice there. Turkey & Greece are still on our to-do list, boo! Good luck with the trip – you’re going to have a great time :D

  52. TJ says:

    This is amazing. I am planning on doing a month to a two month backpacking trip in Europe with a few friends in May of 2014. This has been the best website that I have found and this article is superb. It has allowed me to see what I need to do. Just one question. Which rail pass would be the best for a two month trip visiting 9+ countries?

    • Tom says:

      Hey TJ! If you want to move around a lot within the 2 months purely by train then just go for the global 2 month pass, then you can travel as much as you like (and visit as many countries as you like) within the 2 month period. You might save a bit more if you opt for a select pass with 10 or 15 travel days and use buses for the rest of the time – it’s just a pros and cons list and comes down to you? Want to be able to just train hop and not worry about buses and all the rest? Get the global pass. Feel comfortable sorting out different kinds of transport and using the 24 hour “travel days” available on a select pass to maximum advantage? Go select! Hope this helps you decide :D

      If you want more info on rail passes, check this article out.

  53. Frank says:

    Hey Tom!

    I really enjoyed reading what you had to say about backpacking Europe, and it has opened my eyes to the possibilities of the trip. I recently just bought a round trip ticket in and out of Dublin from the last week of May to the first week of August, and am kind of nervous, yet very excited!!!

    I am really looking forward to my travels, but am also becoming quite nervous about spending money/running out of money . I plan on hitting a lot of countries, and wanted to hear your advice. Since I am to be traveling a lot, I wanted to travel quite lightly (a larger Jansport school-bag backpack and a skateboard). I am however worried about the skateboard not being able to be stowed as a carry-on item for flights, thus racking me up more fees. Other than necessary clothes, do you think it wise to bring a tent? Is this necessary/possible to use?

    To give you a brief, I am starting in Dublin, staying there for four days before heading to London for 5 days to visit a friend. From London, I’m heading to Paris for a few days then heading to Casablanca for a study abroad trip. We end up in Madrid on June 27th, from which I am free to roam the continent. I planned on looping to Italy/Greece and swinging northbound before I had back West again.

    I really want to hit some good, off the beaten path cities, but do not know where to begin. I want to plan ahead, but part of me feels I should just wing it. What do you suggest to get out of the cities? I really want to experience rural culture, while balancing it with city life. Any tips or suggestions? I’ve noticed trains are quite expensive, but if they are necessary, perhaps I will choose them over flights.

    Also, I’ve been told by a doc to not drink the water in Europe because I may become sick. Is this true? I’m from the States, and have a weird fascination with the taste of water in different areas, so was looking forward to drinking it if I could…

    Thanks for your help Tom!!

    • Tom says:

      Hiya Frank!

      Awesome to hear about your trip :D

      Travelling light with a sports bag is great for carry-on, but the skateboard could pose a bit of a problem. Not sure they’ll let you take that as carry-on. Best bet is to give the airline a ring/take a look at their website and see what the go is. Pretty sure the answer is no – so yeah maybe some extra fees there if you want to bring it along.

      Hmm, cities off the beaten track? One cool city to check out is Ghent in Belgium, that was a great place and not one a lot of people have heard of. Cinque Terre in Italy is nice, I wouldn’t say it’s off the beaten track though (depends on who you talk too ;)) – trains are not NECESSARY through most of Europe (with the exception of Germany in my experience). Majority of Europe can be travelled via buses which are generally a lot cheaper than trains.

      I would suggest doing a mixture of planning ahead/winging it. Set yourself a basic itinerary (in what order you’re going to visit countries, maybe some cities too that you know for sure you’re going to). If you really want to experience the rural lifestyle/culture you could check out WWOOF’ing (which I cover off here).

      Not sure what your Doctor is going on about but I’ve never been sick from Western European water in my life. It’s fine to drink in all of Western Europe as far as I’m aware, obviously in Eastern Europe you may want to check first (like Russia, Romania etc). Your body may need to make an adjustment as I’m sure the waters not exactly the same as in the USA, but haven’t met anyone getting sick from it before!

      Hope this helps out a bit, Frank! Let me know if you need anything else. Cheers, Tom.

  54. Bryony says:

    Hi Tom, wondering if you can help. Having a bit of a problem, I am off backpacking around Europe in May so I started to have a look at hostel world to see what kind of prices they charge. It looked pretty good, sharing rooms from 15 euros etc. so I decided to book up the first couple of hostels as I knew where I was going to be for the first 2 weeks however when I tried to book I quickly realised that I couldn’t book a sharing room without booking the whole dorm which is obviously silly and single rooms were like 60 euros, bit out of my price range. Not sure what to do about this. Do you have any suggestions? Do you reckon I would be OK just turning up to places and hoping they have room? I am a single female travelling and I am worried that I will get stuck for somewhere to sleep. I never done this before and I am a little bit nervous. I am more than happy to share rooms with strangers but not happy if I end up kipping in a train station or something.

    • Tom says:

      Hey Bryony, that’s really weird! If it’s a hostel and a shared dorm you should DEFINITELY be able to book yourself one bed within the dorm. Where are you trying to book and at what hostel? I can take a look as well.

      For most hostels, you can of course book a single bed within a shared dorm and it should let you do that (and sometimes it’s not busy and many other beds are empty, that’s how it goes – it’s not YOUR problem!). Double check what you’re trying to book is a hostel that offers shared dormitories and that you’re choosing one person/bed and let me know how it goes.

      As for turning up, sure, it’s commonly done. It can be a pain in the butt sometimes though if the city is busy for whatever reason or it’s peak season. Sometimes you have to walk around checking at different hostels and even then no luck! If you’re travelling high season, know where you’re going and are a bit nervous about it I would suggest booking ahead for the first few weeks (which you’ve tried to do already I note!) and let yourself get into the swing of backpacking and take it from there :D

  55. Vanessa says:

    Hey tom!

    Thanks so much for all the good infos you posted on this blog/guide!! I just did not know where start to plan a backpacking trip and now I feel like I can do this and feel much more confident about it!

    Thanks again!!

  56. Nicole says:

    This Is Serious the BEST Travel advice that I have come across! I have been my research for about 3 months now going to Europe this Fall with a friend and you answered every question I was still pondering and even gave examples and certain products/ brands. Thank you for taking the time to write something like this. I am a thankful soon to be grand adventurer because or this article! YOU ROCK TOM!

    • Tom says:

      Hey Nicole, THANKS, what wonderful words to hear (I’m reading this in bed on a Friday morning – and it made my day :D). I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment – all the best with the adventure, it will be grand indeed!

  57. Jiseung says:

    Thank you very much! I read every 7000 words on this posting. They are extremely useful and exhilarating.

    I, too, didn’t have any clue where to start from, but I now get it!

    Before I go, I would like to ask a question. Do you recommend buying Eurail pass for backpacker? Or do most backpackers even buy it?

    Again, thank you so much!

    • Tom says:

      Hey Jiseung! Excellent to hear the article was helpful! :D

      I do recommend buying a rail pass, but it really depends on how long you’re going for, if you hate travelling by bus etc. It’s certainly not mandatory to get a rail pass. If you were going for 2 months and plan to travel around a LOT, then a rail pass can easily be worth the money. If you prefer to travel slower then a combination of bus tickets and perhaps a “select” rail pass (instead of global) can work well.

      Try this post for more info: RailEurope vs EURail: The Euro Rail Pass Showdown – Which Is Best?.

      I don’t think a rail pass is the cheapest way to travel Europe, but it is the most comfortable and can give you value for money if used correctly. Hope this helps!

  58. Wow great post Tom! Very informative. One of the best posts on the subject Ive read in a while! Im going to forward this on to a friend who is about to backpack around Europe!

    As for me – That itinerary looks so awesome I might just steal it ;)

    • Tom says:

      Thanks Nicole! Thanks for forwarding this on, appreciate it – I hope it can help your friend out! Feel free to steal the itinerary ;)

  59. Jon says:

    Hi tom

    Love ur site man, loads of awesome info. Wondering if u can help, me n a m8 are planning. A 2wk sightseeing tour in Oct, goin to Amsterdam, Germany, Prague, Vienna, down to Italy, into France n then back home to UK, we just thought screw it lol. We want 2 do as much by train as we can n im just wondering which passes Wud b best? Any help Wud b sweet as, cheers m8

    • Tom says:

      Hey Jon! Great to hear about your upcoming adventures :) It’s a sweet little trip you’ve got organised there, in terms of train passes I would opt for a travel day “Select Pass”. A global pass minimum is 1 month so it’s a waste to get one of those. Go for a 5 or 10 day travel pass and use the train for the longer trips like Germany –> Prague. If you have a set deadline on the trip, book your Eurostar train now (since you’re finishing in France) to get it cheap, or a flight with EasyJet.

      Mix up a select pass with bus trips. Alternatively the cheapest way would just be Euroline/MegaBus buses around the place, but they are not as nice as trains ;)

  60. Kellie says:

    Great site!! So many useful tips-thank you!
    My boyfriend and I are going on a Euro trip starting the end of April. We are planning on going to paris, Barcelona, venice, rome, Croatia, Budapest, prague, and berlin. I think we are going to opt for a rail pass seeing as we can get between many of these places by train. My main questions though are regarding Croatia. We seem to be having a difficult time finding information on websites as to how to get to and from Croatia, and how to travel within it. We wanted to go to Dubrovnik, the islands, and hopefully to Plitvice Lakes but seem to be having a hell of a time planning out traveling to these places within Croatia, and then getting out and heading up to Budapest (or Italy depending on what way we go). Can you offer any advice to us? Thanks so much. your site is awesome

  61. Kirsten says:

    Hey Tom,

    By far the best information I’ve read on backpacking so far – can’t wait to read through more of your articles!

    My boyfriend and I are looking at a 2-3 month trip from October to December. I’m just wondering how difficult its going to be to backpack in the winter months. We’re hoping to do a fairly round trip starting in Munich covering Germany, Hungry, Austria, Italy, Spain, France, UK, Netherlands and Czech Republic. Just worried about what to pack for the winter months and how feasible its going to be to do sight seeing in this sort of weather.

    Any advice you can give would be awesome!

    • Tom says:

      Hiya Kirsten! I personally prefer backpacking in the warmer months, but winter can be a lot of fun too. You’ve got Christmas markets, cosying up in warm pubs and cafes and all that good stuff. And of course the ice skating, skiing & snowboarding options!! It’s definitely feasible, but you won’t find yourself outside for hours and hours at a time. Get yourself an awesome vest/jacket and make sure you can easily layer clothes if you’re finding it cold. Your pack will be heavier compared to travelling during summer, but it won’t be ridiculous – you just need to pack a bit smarter. Everything you pack should be able to be layered under or over something else.

      Investigate and do some research into the winter markets and other events around that period, October will still be reasonabl-ish weather, but it will start getting colder towards December. Honestly though, a lot of the FREEZING periods are January/February! Bring some layers of clothing, beanie, gloves and take periodic stops for hot coffees and chocolates and you’ll have a grand time! :D

  62. Ria says:

    Hi Tom,

    This is a very extensive list, it is very helpful.
    I am a student in India, and will be traveling to Finland, Norway and Sweden for the first two weeks of May. I will be travelling alone (for the first time), and will be using a Eurail Pass.
    In Finland, I will be visiting Helsinki, Hanko and Rovaniem, How many days do you think I should visit? I was thinking 3-4 days would be fine. Should I make reservations for accommodations?

    I know this is bit of an off question, but I could really use some help.

    Thanks :)

    • Tom says:

      Heyhey Ria, I actually haven’t visited Scandinavia yet, it’s high on my to-do list but I’ve been busy exploring the rest of Europe. So I can’t give you any first hand/personal recommendations for Finland, but just talking European travel in general, if you’re visiting 3 places in Finland you might want to give yourself a bit longer than 3-4 days, maybe more like 5-6 days. Helsinki itself is the capital so should be lots to do there, plus factoring in actual travel time and arriving/checking into hostels. If you’re planning a streamlined trip that’s only for a few weeks/1 month – you might want to book the first few nights just so you’ve got somewhere to arrive to.

  63. Duke says:

    Hello Tom:
    Excellent article and it hits all the main points. I’m a beginner backpacker and wanted to get your feedback on an itinerary I’m working on. I am not familiar with the Euro train. What’s the best order to get to these cities in terms of saving travel time on the train: Munich, Prague, Cesky Krumlov, Vienna, Lucerne, Amsterdam, Brussells, Frankfurt?? I have 3-4 weeks for highlights on these cities. Appreciate your input.
    Thanks,
    duke from Los Angeles, CA

    • Tom says:

      Hiya Duke! Normally geographically closest is the best way to go, that’s what I find works for me. Come up with a “round trip” that incorporates all of the cities, Google Maps is actually pretty handy for this sort of thing, or even buy yourself a map of Europe and just use a pen or marker. This is where the fun begins ;)

  64. gaby moreno says:

    hi tom,
    i’m traveling to europe for 21 days, and will be visiting various cities. spending 2-3 days in a city and then going. i’ve never traveled in this style. i will be taking trains from city to city. as far as luggage…. i heard its a pain to travel with a large suitcase. do u recommend getting a backpacking type of backpack ? so it’s easy to take on the go? (will be going in the month of june, so luckily it won’t be extremely cold. which means i dont need to take lots of jackets and such)

  65. Walli says:

    Hello,

    I have a question that I’ve found to be not addressed a lot, or even at all, as I’ve been researching backpacking.

    I have a full time job, and feel as though the biggest obstacle to me is taking the time off to go backpacking. I’ve vaguely discussed it with a potential traveler, and we’re thinking anywhere between 20-30 days max. I do live in the US, so it might be different from Australia, however, what are some common “excuses” you’ve heard or used to take a long time off of work? Keep in mind I haven’t discussed this with my employer, therefore I don’t know what their reaction is.

    • Tom says:

      Hey Walli, talking to employers can be hard if you are not sure what their reaction will be. Definitely sell them the benefits of what travel will do for you as an employee (make you more refreshed and give you some new outlooks/ideas on life, broaden your horizons etc). I’ve never worked in the US however, so things may be a little different there. Hopefully you have a boss with a good attitude towards travel who will see the benefits a month long trip to Europe will do!

  66. Mir says:

    One thing I was wondering is, APPROXIMATELY how much does it take to cover up to 10 different countries? I want a general idea, I dont want to end up running out of money halfway into my trip, you know?

    • Tom says:

      Hiya Mir! It’s a tough & loaded question, some people would argue that you can spend a whole year just trying to explore Italy, for example. However let me try to give you some actionable advice. Say in most European countries you see the capital city and one other place, and you do this in about 6-7 days. That would make 10 countries about a 2 month trip. For 10 countries a good amount is anywhere from 60 – 90 days (2-3 months). Does that help?

  67. Evangelina says:

    Hi Tom!
    Thanks for your extremely useful post! Loved it. I see I got my budgeting quite close to yours. Very good advice, useful tips. I will do a 10-day trip to Europe hoping to visit London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Turin and Rome and as you said, I’ll do it for myself, rather than doing what others think I ‘should” see.

    • Tom says:

      Hey Evangelina! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment, I appreciate it – it’s awesome hearing this article is useful to people’s trips. 10 day whirlwind trip – sounds awesome!! Definitely travel of yourself above all else – good on you!

  68. Serena says:

    Hi Tom,

    This is a great blog thanks! I just was wondering if you knew if I need a visa or how to find out.. I’m a Canadian citizen and I’m flying into Warsaw, Poland on May 26 and flying out from Zagreb, Croatia on July 29th..

    Thanks for your help :)

  69. Stefanie Pantzlaff says:

    This may sound dumb but how do you manage to keep all they hygiene products and clothes ypull need just in a backpack…..

    • Tom says:

      As a guy, I mostly pack shampoo, soap & my toothbrush. I know Trudy packs a little more then that. But it’s important to just bring the essentials. As for clothes, 2 pairs of shoes, 4 tees, 1 nice “going out shirt”, 2 pairs of shorts, 1 pair of jeans, 6 pairs of undies & socks…throw in a few extras here and there. Anywhere in Europe will have clothes you can get if you really feel you don’t have enough. Pack as light as possible and see how you go, you might be surprised!

  70. Laryssa says:

    Hi Tom! I’m 16 and deferring University for a year to save money to travel through Europe. Around this time next year I’ll be going for my first time for about 4 months and I was wondering what you thought about having a canine companion during that time. As a relativity young and new traveler I believe I would feel vulnerable and lonely without one

    • Tom says:

      Hey Laryssa, that’s an interesting question. To be honest, taking a dog along with you is not really feasible at all. Are you talking about bringing along your own canine? Or getting one over there? And what happens once the 4 months are up? Hostels also wouldn’t work with a dog. Definitely do all your research and get all the facts about country laws, being able to fly/travel etc before deciding on this one – would be difficult unless you plan on driving everywhere yourself.

  71. Kris says:

    Hey Tom! I’m going to backpack through Europe for the first time next month, with a few friends. Is it absolutely mandatory to put everything you will carry into your backpack, or can you leave another small (roller) bag at the hostel until you leave? Say for just a day or two?

    • Tom says:

      Hi Kris, do you mean mandatory to carry everything when going out for the day? Not sure exactly what you mean – but it’s perfectly fine to leave the majority of your stuff at the hostel when going out for the day – most will have lockers for your valuables. Just bring along a small day-pack to take with you to hold water/books etc.

  72. dexil says:

    hey tom, great article. i happen to come across this article and it get me interested about backpacking. just a couple of question if you don’t mind. how does backpacking work?
    do you actually book the transportation and hostel in your homeland before setting off?

    • Tom says:

      Hey Dexil, I wouldn’t recommend booking everything in your own country before heading off, as this leaves no room or flexibility for on-the-fly travel. Certainly book your first week or destination so you feel comfortable to arrive and get started. Some backpackers opt for a RailEurope global or select pass (unlimited train travel / 24 hour train travel days), and others like to mix it up with buses, flights, trains. The more adventurous sometimes try their hand at hitch hiking or rent a van/car. There are no hard & fast rules for the process…it can be whatever you want it to be :)

  73. [email protected] says:

    Hi Tom,
    Great info. We in Barcelona at the moment, what ATM machines did you use for 28 degrees credit card withdrawals.

    • Tom says:

      Hi Lynn! Most ATMs to use in Europe are fine, the card ITSELF won’t charge you to withdraw, but the ATM MIGHT (depending on the machine). Aim to go to ones run by the larger banks – they are normally free on both ends :)

  74. Grace says:

    Hello! Great article. I am traveling to Europe soon with my boyfriend, first time traveling without supervision (just 19). Anyway, I was wondering if Amsterdam was a save place to go? I have heard its so much fun but worry something could go wrong. Also, I am a bit confused about the global eurorail pass, they are about $500! We are planning on going to London, Oxford, Amsterdam, Paris, Veniceand Florence. What does the pass entitle us?

    Thanks so much!

    • Lauren Wilson says:

      hello Grace! I was looking at those myself. if you go to the website there should be different options on where your going and for how long it will give you a map and the best type of pass for your travels! :)

  75. Kori says:

    This is a lot of great information! As someone who has backpacked through Europe frequently, I could say I learned some new stuff from reading this post.

  76. dan cullen says:

    Hello

    we are planning to travel Europe for 16days we want to hit the main cities such as Amsterdam, Munich, Barcelona and paris hoping to spend at least 2 nights in each place can you recommend any other places to see and go in the cities and on the way to each destination. Also we want somewhere with a night life and day activities as well also a route to take for each

    many thanks Dan

  77. Callum says:

    Hi Tom, Great blog!
    Next year I’m looking to travel around Europe, however I would like to work while I travel, staying in one country for a couple of months before moving to another.

    What are your thoughts?

  78. Cassie says:

    Hi Tom,

    Such an informative blog! I have a question about visas. During your 10 month trip around Europe, what kind of visa did you get, since the Schengen Visa only lasts 90 days? Also is what are your thoughts on working at some locations? Would that require a different / more difficult to obtain visa?

    Thanks!

    • Tom says:

      Hi Cassie! Lovely of you to drop in. I’m lucky enough to have dual passports (Australian AND British), because I have a British passport I’m considered an “EU Citizen” which makes travelling/living/working in the European Union a lot easier for me. The “Schengen Visa” allows 90 days of travel (but NOT work), if you want to work it’s possible to get a one year working visa in the Schengen Zone, however this must be approved and setup by ONE country. Trudy did this with Netherlands. That’s part of the reason we chose Netherlands as a “base” for working and then we would travel out from there as much as we could. Best to chat to a visa expert/immigration dept. for specifics though, I’m just talking from our personal experiences!

  79. kabir says:

    Thanks Tom for your valuable blog.This blog help me to travel in Europe because it gather with many tips.

  80. Nik says:

    Hi Tom.

    Thanks for the info. It’s really helpful especially for someone who plans to backpack to Europe for the first time.

    Just need your advice as I’m going to Europe this coming December 23. I’m planning to visit London, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam during my 2-week trip to Europe. But I honestly don’t know how to travel to these 4 cities with such a limited budget (due to currency exchange).. as i’ll be traveling in winter, what’s the cheapest and yet the safest way to get to all these cities from London? I also have to be back to London before Jan 6 for my flight back home.

    Thanks in advance.. :)

  81. Dale Moore says:

    Hi Tom, thanks for the great advice. I’m finishing up my degree and have done a lot of reading up on backpacking from mid Feb to early May next year. I plan to visit 8-9 countries including Scandinavia (Denmark, Sweden and Norway). I am aware that part of the world is pricey but I simply have to see it for myself, there is no debate. Would you recommend budgeting an extra amount for these countries? I’m not the party type but do like doing crazy things every now and again. Also I have just received my ISIC card which come in handy I’m sure.

    Regards
    Dale (proudly South African)

  82. Bus Colombia says:

    I always have loved the idea of backing around Europe, I really like to find this article because it has opened my eyes, I changed my mind now I think travel around Europe could be really possible.

  83. Matt says:

    Hey Tom! Awesome article! I was just wondering whether overnight trains are a common/popular thing? I was looking at these alongside the hostels as a cheap way to sleep and plus on the trains the ride is included! Do you know what the average price is for a standard overnight train? Also are they everywhere through Europe or only between some countries?
    Thanks so much mate!

  84. Courtney says:

    Hey Tom!!!

    My husband and I are from the U.S. and we would like to fly into London and then travel to some of the countries over there however we would only have 3wks to do it. What is the first step for us? What are the best places to visit if you really only have three weeks? My aunt lives in London, so we can always come back to her house to hold up…We were thinking of using london as a base and then taking 3 days out to various places using the rail system. But frankly we are so clueless on where to start.

    Your site is awesome and thanks in advance for any advice

  85. Lauren Wilson says:

    Hello Tom!
    Im from Canada!
    I am planning on backpacking Europe for a month and a half in May/june of 2015. There will be two fo us going. For transportation in Europe, how did you go about that? did you purchase a Eurail pass or Britrail pass at all? and when staying at hostels did you just find them last minute? I love your blog by the way! excellent job and very helpful.
    thank you!!!

  86. Mark says:

    Hi Tom,

    What an in-depth article! Thanks for all of the information – my wife and I are thinking of trekking across the Alps this summer and there was still quite a bit of useful info for us here.

    Cheers, Mark

  87. Daniela says:

    Hi, came across your website today and so many useful reads, thank you :)
    I do have a question though. I’m an Australian and have been in Europe for one week shy of three months without a visa at all, does that mean I need one? I’m backpacking and still have about two or so months to go. Before I left I asked travel agents about visas and they said I wouldn’t need one?
    Thanks.

  88. William Foo says:

    Hi Tom,

    Came across your website randomly while I was planning a backpacking trip to Europe.

    Aftering reading this article,
    I’ve compiled some of the countries I’m interested to visit. But I have no complete idea of how many days and how to plan out the itineraries.

    Would you mind giving me some input? I’d appreciate it very much if you could =D

    Below is the list of countries:
    Netherlands
    Belgium
    Germany
    Austria
    Slovakia
    Czech
    Poland

  89. Josie says:

    Hey Tom, first just wanted to say (like everyone else on here) THANKYOU!! i leave for London in 4 days to go backing around UK and Europe for a few months.. your writing is amazing and as helped me out SO much!! i booked my plane ticket a week before i left and haven’t done any planning (may be a bit silly) but i thought better now then never, and i want to go over before it gets cold and i don’t wanna wait till next year :P anyway, i just have one question.. I’m going on my own, and hoping i will meet people over there to travel with, but if i don’t am i going to be right travelling through Europe when i don’t speak a WORD of another lanuage??.. i’m not worried at all about going on my own, that’s the only thing I’m freaking out over, i just don’t want to have to stick to the uk and not see Europe because i cant speak the language.. and i don’t want to spend the money on contiki or busabout i wanna try and do it by myself and with people i meet along the way.. so point of this post is just asking, will i be right over there (catching trains, ordering hostels, ordering food, going shopping) in say Spain, or Italy or wherever if i can only speak English.. like i said i am on my own and hoping this wont be an issue.. would love your feedback :)

  90. Eunus Hosen says:

    Hello Tom,

    Thanks for the long and informative post. Hope your article will help me, when I plan to visit Europe.

    Thanks!

  91. Donna says:

    Hi Tom;

    I am fifty, but have a love for life and travel. I have never backpacked before, but would you recommend this for a couple at this age? Did you ever run into a couple of this age range in hostels or do you just think this is crazy? It is one of those things on my bucket list as well as the thought of staying in a hostel doesn’t bother me.
    I really enjoyed your in depth article. I look forward to hearing from you.
    Sincerely,
    Donna G.

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