Planning Your Backpacking Trip To Europe On A Budget

When traveling to Europe on a budget, planning out your trip is an important step. It will help you have a more affordable and enjoyable vacation. Now, unlike most of the information you will find, it’s not essential for every little detail to be planned out, but rather just a rough idea. A big part of the experience while backpacking Europe is the freedom you have when it comes to deciding where and what to do. However, it is important to know what places you would like to see most before you depart. It is also a good idea to know what season you’re going to be traveling and for how long you’re planning to stay.

Deciding what you would like to see is completely dependent on what region of Europe you are planning to visit. If you’d like to stay in Western Europe then you’ll want to make sure and see the popular attractions like the Colosseum, and the Louvre. Or if you’ll be backpacking in Eastern Europe, then you’ll want to see classic destinations like Montenegro and Croatia. No matter where you decide to visit, you’re sure to have the adventure of a lifetime and a trip you’ll never forget.

What Season Should You Visit?

Summer time is the most popular season for backpacking through Europe and for good reason. The weather in Europe during the summer is fantastic, but with great weather comes longer lines and more difficulty finding a hostel. Although the weather is great during the summer, visiting Europe in the winter is still an option worth consideration. There are significantly less people traveling during the winter months and this will allow you to get a more up close and personal experience in many locations. No matter what season you choose to visit, you’re sure to have an enjoyable trip. Deciding when to visit just comes down to your schedule, budget, and personal preference.

How Long Are You Planning To Stay?

It is also important to decide how long you’d like to go backpacking through Europe. Trips range anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months and choosing how long to stay really comes down to your budget and how much you’d like to see. Figuring out how long you’d like your trip to last will greatly determine how much to pack, how much money to bring, and what places you’d like to visit.

Packing

One of the most common questions new backpackers ask before a trip to Europe is what to pack. The traditional saying is “Pack everything you think you’ll need and then get rid of half of it.” The philosphy being that many of the things you think you need are actually unneccesary. So take this statement into consideration when doing your packing, but be realistic. Don’t stretch yourself too thin, but do remember that you will be carrying everything in your backpack much of the time so be sure to spare anything you can.

Budgeting

When planning a backpacking trip to Europe on a budget, take careful consideration because the last thing you want is to spend half of your trip rationing because you didn’t prepare well enough. While there is no way to tell you how much money to bring, it is a common practice to plan on 50 euros per day. This will cover food, transportation, and lodging. Some days you may need more, and other days, less. Excluding airfare, backpacking in Europe is very affordable when compared to a more traditional vacation. Not only that, it is much more exciting!

If you’re really lost when it comes to planning out your trip you may want to consider buying a guide book. You will be able to find all sorts of information there, from planning your itinerary, down to what hostel has the most comfortable bed. Try and look for a book that caters towards budget travel as they are much more informative for you, a backpacker. Another benefit to buying a guide book is that you can bring it with you. Whenever you find yourself with a question, you’ll be able to refer to your guide book.

How To Budget For Your Trip To Europe

Once you’ve got a good idea of where you’ll be visiting on your trip to Europe, it will be time to figure out your budget. Despite what you may be thinking or what you may have heard, a trip to Europe doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, backpacking through Europe is one of the cheapest ways to vacation. The most expensive part of your trip will most definitely be transportation. Divide your trip into two different sets of costs; pre-trip expenses and on-the-road costs. Pre-trip will cover all of your supplies, airfare, and train passes. On-the-road costs will cover everything else, including lodging, food, and attractions.

The standard calculation that experienced backpackers will tell you is $60.00 per day with a little lee-way in each direction. This will cover everything from paying for your hostel to getting into the Louvre. It is possible to make it work with less, but trust me, you in no way want to be stranded at the end of your journey, looking for the cheapest of everything. It will take away from your overall experience and if you’re undertaking and endeavor like this, you want to fully enjoy it.

Take a look at an estimation of some of the costs associated with a backpacking trip to Europe.

Airfare: Your airfare will vary greatly depending on when and to where you book your flight. If you’ve planned wisely and you still have several months before you depart, you will be able to save significantly on your plain ticket. You’re looking at anywhere from $500 to $1000 for your ticket. Make sure to shop around as there are always plenty of deals for the thrifty traveler.

Documents: Your passport and other necessary travel documents will cost between $100 to $150 depending on what all you need. You will want to do your research about visa requirements in each of the countries you plan to visit. For more information about visa requirements for traveling in Europe, click here.

Rail Pass: Train travel is one of the best ways for getting around Europe, but it can be quite expensive. Depending on your itinerary and length of stay, a rail pass is going to cost you anywhere from just a couple hundred dollars up to a thousand bucks. Read our article Train Travel in Europe for more information.

Hostels: Hostel prices will vary greatly depending on where you are. They can run as low as $10 bucks all the way up to $40. For example, in large cities like Paris or Prague, prices will usually run on the higher end of the spectrum. The farther you get from the main tourist destinations, the better the costs get. For more information, read our Hostels in Europe article.

Food: Depending on your taste and preference, food can either be extremely affordable or extremely expensive. If you plan to stick with supermarkets and grocery food, you can keep your spending between $10 and $20 per day. However, if you’re after some authentic cuisine at a nice European restaurant, you’re going to pay for it. A good mix of the two is the best way to travel as you’ll get to experience the best of both worlds.

Transportation: What? I thought we were backpacking. Yes, but you will have to plan on spending money for bus and subway tickets, especially if you’d like to see as much as you can in the places you are visiting. To be safe, budget $10 to $20 per day for local transportation.

Attractions: Most of the main attractions in Europe as with anywhere else in the world come with a price. Depending on where you are and what you’re trying to see, you should budget between $10 and $20 per day for museums, galleries, and historical exhibits.

Expenses for a trip to Europe greatly depend on your itinerary and preference. You can skip out on a lot of costs by shopping at supermarkets and staying in lower quality hostels. However, for a little bit of extra cash you can enjoy delicious food, outstanding beer, and a quality place to rest your eyes. No matter what type of trip you’re planning it’s important to budget carefully to maximize the overall enjoyment of your trip.

10 Tips For Making The Most Of Your Money

There is no doubt that traveling in Europe can cost you a pretty penny and one of the most talked about issues among backpackers is how to make the most of their money. While backpacking is the most affordable route to exploring Europe, it can still turn into an expensive endeavor if you’re not careful. Managing your travel budget is one of the most important parts of ensuring a successful trip, so make sure to check out our thrifty tips for maximizing your cash when you’re backpacking through Europe.

Museum Passes Are Your Best Friend
Throughout Europe, many cities sell museum passes which are a great bargain for budget travelers. You’ll get access to several different locations for a fraction of the price. On top of that, with a museum pass you can skip the line and go straight into each attraction.

Get A Hostel Membership
Across Europe’s over 2000 different hostels, you can find plenty of cheap beds. The discounted price you’ll get at many hostels will pay for itself in no time and many times your membership will grant you a reduced price on other travel related services.

Buy The Eurail Pass
If you’re planning to see several different countries, the Eurail pass is one of the best values you will find. Point to point tickets can become quite expensive very quickly and a train pass will allow you to travel as much as you want on one fixed price.

Use A Guidebook
A guidebook is one of the best tools to have in your arsenal while traveling through Europe. The kind of detailed information provided by a guidebook will save you countless hours, dollars, and it will no doubt pay for itself many times over.

Travel During Winter
Backpacking Europe during the off-season will give you a much more personal look at the culture. It will also allow you to find cheaper airfare, cheaper hostels, and avoid long lines. On top of all that, you’ll meet more Europeans than tourists which is a great way to get the most out of your trip.

Use ATM’s
Travelers check’s and currency conversion shops are normally much more expensive than using local ATM’s. ATM’s provide the best possible rates in a more convenient and quick manner. They do charge fees so make less withdrawals of more money.

Drink Tap Water
If you’re ordering water at a restaurant, make sure to specify that you want it from the tap. If you don’t you’ll find yourself drinking an expensive bottle of mineral water.

Look For Local Restaurants
Stay away from touristy restaurants by avoiding places with signs that say we speak English or have an English menu. Restaurants full of locals will have much better food for a more affordable price. Try new things, especially daily specials which are sure to run a much lower price and provide for a unique taste you won’t find back home.

Make Use Of Public Transportation
When you’ll be staying in one place for an exteneded period of time, it’s always a great idea to make use of buses. They might not be the most luxurious way to ride, but they will save you some money.

Analyze Your Receipts
Review all of your receipts and look for additions that you didn’t order and errors in the price you’re being charges. Many travelers end up paying too much because you didn’t look close enough at their receipts.

Make use of these tips and you can save yourself a heap of cash which will go well towards extending your stay or allowing you to splurge a little bit at the end of your trip. The biggest most important tip you can travel with is to use common sense in everything you do. If you think things through and avoid thinking like a tourist, you’ll be sure to save yourself both time and money.