Backpacking in Europe
A Student’s Guide on Backpacking Europe
Backpacking through Europe is a classic move for the student traveller, a tried-and-true adventure for the young and old alike and a sure-fire way to experience some profound moment of self-discovery. At StudentUniverse, we try to keep this tradition alive by negotiating insanely cheap air tickets exclusively for students.
Whether you’re taking a gap year or simply on summer holiday, now is the time to make the leap. Attend the Grand Opera in Vienna, go shopping at the Galeries Lafayette in Paris, wander among the ruins of Pompeii and learn to tango in Madrid. Starting your backpacking trip is the toughest part, but trust us when we say that unforgettable adventures are just ahead.
Get started on your cross-continent journey today with our discounted student flights to cities all around Europe. We’ll even help you score great deals on hotels and hostels, and connect you with top-notch tours that will help you get the most out of every destination.
Backpacking Europe Step-by-Step Guide
Pick your route (but don’t marry it)
The fun part! Just kidding, it’s all fun. Before you start making a food budget or looking up InterRail passes, you need to have a couple destinations in mind. That being said, a good backpacking trip is a balance between preparation and flexibility, and this list can change. Maybe you miss a train, or make new friends who convince you to skip Vienna and join them in Amsterdam. Use your itinerary as a tool to prepare, not as a rule book.
Know when to book
Though the early bird sometimes gets the worm, booking eight to ten weeks before your ideal departure opens you up to the seats airlines are looking to give away. Prices in late May and early September tend to be slighter lower than those during peak travel season; however, you should still check with your destination, as national holidays or annual festivals might catch you off guard and drive up the airfare.
Get the right bag
Think twice about that old hiking backpack — unless you’re doing a lot of camping, these top-loading, multi strap packs can cause all sorts of trouble when backpacking through Europe. What you want is a travel backpack, something streamline with a waterproof zipper running all the way around, so it opens easily like a suitcase. When you get your pack, fill it up and walk around for a couple days to make sure the shoulder and hip straps are comfortable.
Sit down and truly think about the products you use every day. This list of travel essentials will change depending on your route and the time of year, but should definitely exclude anything with sentimental value. Only bring items you could live with losing.
Figure out where you’re sleeping
There are so many ways to find affordable accommodation whilst backpacking Europe. Of course camping and couchsurfing are the most frugal options, but youth hostels are the real MVP of any backpacking trip. Check out the Generator Hostels for a more upscale experience.
Gather your maps and guidebooks
Whilst backpacking abroad, keep important phone numbers and addresses on hand in case of emergency. Those guidebooks also make for good reading when your phone dies in the middle of a long bus ride.
If your family is insured with their bank or major providers like Avaia, they can cover you and your possessions (laptops, cameras, phones, etc). Otherwise, you can visit your local post office for the free European Health Insurance Card.
Backpacking Europe Costs: How to Budget your Trip
Budgeting begins with figuring out where to backpack. Cities where the cost of living is low, but the local tourism is healthy enough to have competitive rates for accommodation are the best places to backpack. Think Krakow or Budapest.
Making a budget is easy; sticking to it is the hard part. Stop romanticizing high-price activities and get psyched about the scrappy side of backpacking! Go grocery shopping and cook dinner in the hostel kitchen (leftovers will become a sculpture-garden picnic lunch the next day). Skip the cabs, take the metro. Find out when the museums offer free or discounted admission. Do whatever the local students do, and keep it cheap!
If you’re really strapped for cash, consider getting a job. As we explain in our Visa Guide, UK citizens can work anywhere in the European Economic Area (EU, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) without a special visa. If you keep your short-term plans pretty flexible, this might be the answer to your budgeting woes. Whilst backpacking through Europe, you’ll also want to keep in touch with StudentUniverse to book cheap one way flights and find out about exclusive promotions.
Backpacking Europe Tips
Top 5 Backpacking Adventures
It doesn’t have to end with Europe! After working those backpacking muscles, you’ll be ready for yet another iconic adventure!
The 14 People You’ll Meet When Backpacking (Even If You Don’t Want To)
You’ll meet a lot of people on the backpacking circuit — for better or worse. Here’s a sneak peek of some guaranteed encounters.
Take A Gap Year In Europe
Why not take a year off before heading to Uni? Backpacking Europe is the perfect way to spend your gap year. Start planning today!