“The world is a book, and those who do not travel only read a page.” — Saint Augustine.
Have you ever thought about backpacking through Europe?
After reading the 4-Hour Workweek, Vagabonding, and The Art of Non-Conformity I figured that I had done more than enough research to be ready to hit the open road. So I did it. I stopped making excuses and planned my first ever real Vagabonding experience. I bought a ticket to Warsaw, Poland for early-September, got rid of most of my crap, and rented my condo out. It was finally time to hit up Europe with only a backpack.
Can I summarize this whole post in one sentence? Can you plan a mega trip to Europe with just one piece of advice? Yes you can. Here it goes… Just f*cking do it. Just show up and go with the flow.
If you want to get a little more technical let’s get into it.
[Quick note: If you have credit card debt you’re going to have to earn your freedom. Don’t you worry just yet. I got something coming out for you in the next few weeks.]
For the sake of this post I’m going to assume that you want to have a damn good time. Anyone that met me at the Financial Blogger Conference this past weekend knows that I like to have fun.
How you can have a blast backpacking through Europe…
Stay in hostels.
Staying in hostels is a no-brainer when backpacking through Europe. This is by far the best way to save money on accommodations. I suggest that you check in advance before you book into a specific hostel so that you know it’s right for you. If you feel like partying then you stay in a party hostel. If you want to relax then find a hostel that’s known for being calm. The reviews will tell you all you need to know.
You can use CouchSurfing to stay for free with someone, but I enjoy the instant social life that comes with a hostel. I also love the fact that you can cook your own food in hostels and meet a variety of characters.
Book night trains.
I found that a nice little way to save money was to take night trains. This meant that I didn’t have to waste a beautiful day in a train and I didn’t have to pay for an extra night at a hostel. Night trains are also a good opportunity to take a night off from going out to just chill out. We all need to relax once in a while.
Hit up close destinations.
This sounds obvious but I see many travelers making this mistake. I hate being on a bus or train for a long time and I especially hate moving around often. What I did was I went to popular destinations that were close by while moving towards my final destination. I wanted to spend a few nights in Budapest, Hungary. To do so I moved there slowly. I don’t care for sightseeing or to move around too quickly. I instead chose to go to places that were close by and brought me closer to my final destination.
Prepare your own meals.
Maybe it’s just me but I love to have my own food. I enjoy dinners and drinks with new friends/previous strangers. I also enjoy having my own food ready. Being a follower of the slow-carb diet I found it easy to always find chicken, broccoli, and beans. I figure that these are three items of food that can’t really be messed up. I mean how do you mess up a can of beans? Just make sure you don’t eat a can of beans if you have hot chicks in your room.
Be realistic with the duration of your trip.
I kept the duration of my trip under one month because I knew that I couldn’t be away from home for much longer. I also know that I would get bored of moving around so much. I found this to be the perfect duration for me. Everyone is different and it all depends on how homesick you get. I met so many travelers that were planning on being away for over 6 months. I don’t know how they do it for that long.
Those are my best tips for having a blast in Europe without going poor or maxing out your credit card.
If you’ve been meaning to hit up Europe for a long time, what are you waiting for?
“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.” –Susan Heller.
(photo credit: everyday.artichoke)