Backpacking Europe Q&A
When Rachael, a friend of mine, sent me a list of questions regarding my Euro Trip, I decided it would be a perfect Q&A for everyone thinking about packing a backpack and heading to Europe. Here are her questions:
I hope all is well! I’m writing you because I remember when we worked together, you left to visit Europe and backpack there. I was hoping to ask you questions about it because it’s something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time now, and now that I’ve hiked the trail I’d been saving for, I can start saving for my next goal! :} -Rachael
I was curious about what itinerary you chose and where all you stayed?
I don’t really follow an itinerary but I have a general idea of where I want to go.
I left in August (shoulder season) and came back to the States at the beginning of November. To avoid the cold and avoid having to pack warm clothes, I started north and worked my way down south.
I had no itinerary otherwise other than beginning and end of the trip and when I was meeting people. I typically only plan a few days in advance which allows for tons of freedom.
When you backpack, you tend to meet new people or find new places or want to stay longer or shorter so itineraries get blown up pretty quick.
I stayed in 16 different countries, most within the southwestern part of Europe. For the full breakdown, click here.
What did the budget looked like (how much you saved and if it was enough)?
I had saved quite a bit for this trip. In total, I spent $10,000USD on everything. This included all of my tickets, transportation, food, and all of my gear such as my backpack, cameras and clothes.
I managed to save a lot by staying in hostels and eating cheaply most of the time. This allowed me to splurge on other things like tours and big attractions.
Did you stay in hostels mostly, and if not, where did you stay?
I stayed in hostels the entire time, except when family visited me for 10 days and I stayed with them in their nice hotel, as well as on a cruise ship.
As a solo traveler, hostels are amazing because you can meet so many people and never really have a chance to feel lonely. And you save loads of cash to spend on fun things.
Did you set yourself up with a special bank card to make currency exchanges easier?
Before I left on my trip, I discussed with my banker which cards I’d need abroad and what the fees looked like. In Europe, many places only use the cards with a chip. I also chose a card that wouldn’t charge me a fee for using it in another country. I used a card that gathered points for travel, as well, so I could use my points to buy plane tickets later.
Did you use your phone to make international calls?
I did my research on the costs of an international plan and the price of getting new sim cards everywhere I went. Since I was changing countries about every five days, buying sim cards would be a pain and the international plan was too pricey.
I decided to suspend my cell service while I was abroad and would just use Wi-Fi and apps like Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp to make phone calls. This worked well for me most of the time. Sometimes Wi-Fi was hard to find or not strong enough to hold the calls.
Other than a passport, did you need to get any other documents anywhere?
Many of the countries in Europe are part of the Schengen Agreement which means you don’t need a passport to cross over their mutual borders.
The other countries will need to see a passport and may require visas and other documents. It all depends on what country you’re visiting, which country you’re from, and how long you wish to stay. You can stay in the Schengen area for up to 90 days at a time.
Research which countries you plan to visit on your countries embassy website for rules pertaining to you as the rules change all the time and are different for every place.
The biggest piece of advice I have for backpacking Europe is GO. Just do it. My Euro trip was definitely one of the top highlights of my life. YOLO and all that.
Any Q’s I haven’t answered? Ask me in the comments below and keep an eye out for future Q&A posts!