Backpacking Europe: A Comprehensive Step-by-Step Travel Planning Guide

travel guide around europe

Are you planning an epic backpacking adventure through Europe? Or are you simply a budget-minded independent traveler looking for tips and advice? Look no further. In this step-by-step travel guide, we’ve got you covered from initial trip planning to budgeting, packing, accommodation, transportation, and more. Let’s dive right in!

Phase One: Initial Trip Planning

The first phase of planning your backpacking adventure in Europe is crucial. It’s where you’ll decide which cities and countries to visit, create a travel itinerary, estimate your travel costs, book your flight, and take care of other essential tasks.

Europe Itinerary Planning and Travel Logistics

Creating a Europe travel itinerary that aligns with your travel style, goals, and budget is key. To inspire you, we’ve put together a range of sample itineraries, from the Best Of Europe Mega Trip (8-10+ weeks) to the Gateway to Eastern Europe (2-4 weeks). We also provide valuable advice for first-time travelers: slow down and make the most of your journey. Additionally, we highlight the most visited cities in Europe to give you a sense of the popular destinations.

Choosing Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is highly recommended to protect yourself against any unforeseen mishaps during your trip. We offer tips for choosing the right travel insurance to suit your needs.

The Savvy Backpacker’s City Travel Guides

We’ve curated practical and detailed travel guides for over 20 of Europe’s most iconic cities. Our guides cover must-see sights, local cuisine recommendations, budgeting tips, public transportation advice, and suggestions for where to stay. Whether you’re heading to Amsterdam, Barcelona, Florence, London, Paris, Rome, or any other European city, we’ve got you covered.

Finding Cheap Airfare to Europe

Securing affordable airfare to Europe is often one of the biggest expenses for travelers. Our guide will help you navigate the world of cheap flights, providing tips and tricks to find the best deals.

Best Travel Guidebooks and Online Resources

When it comes to travel guidebooks and online resources, the options can be overwhelming. We review some of our favorite resources, including Lonely Planet, Rick Steves’ guidebooks, Wikitravel, and TripAdvisor. These resources offer a wealth of information to help you plan your trip and make informed decisions.

Choosing Travel Seasons

While summer may be the busiest travel season in Europe, the continent is a great place to visit year-round. We explore the advantages and disadvantages of traveling during each season, allowing you to make an informed decision based on your preferences.

Pre-Departure Travel Advice

Before you embark on your European adventure, don’t forget to go through our pre-departure travel checklist. It covers essential details that are easy to overlook but can make a significant difference in your trip.

Get an Affordable High-Speed Mobile Data Plan For Your Phone

Having reliable mobile data for your smartphone is essential in today’s digital age. We provide a comprehensive guide on using your phone in Europe and recommend the best SIM cards and data plans. If you have a newer phone, we also highlight the best prepaid eSIM data plans for Europe.

Frequently Asked Travel Questions

We receive numerous questions about traveling in Europe that may not warrant their own articles, so we’ve compiled a mega-list of random travel questions to address common concerns.

Phase Two: Budgeting and Money

Now, let’s tackle the million-dollar question: How much does it actually cost to travel through Europe? Understanding the financial aspect is crucial for budget-conscious travelers. We provide helpful articles to estimate your travel costs, offer city price guides, and share money-saving strategies.

Estimating Your Travel Costs

To help you plan your budget, we break down the average cost of food, alcohol, accommodation, sightseeing, transportation, pre-trip expenses, and other common costs. Our high-level guide will give you a rough estimate of how much it costs to backpack Europe on a budget.

City Price Guides

We’ve created in-depth city price guides for over 30 European cities. Each guide includes average prices for food, accommodation, sightseeing, and more, giving you a better understanding of the costs associated with each destination.

Using Your Money in Europe

Understanding how to navigate currency exchange rates, ATM usage, and debit/credit card transactions is essential. Our comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about using money while traveling in Europe, including tips to avoid foreign transaction fees.

Daily Money-Saving Strategies

We share simple yet effective money-saving tips that you can apply to your daily travels in Europe. From choosing affordable dining options to budget-friendly sightseeing, our strategies will help you stretch your budget without compromising your experience.

Phase Three: Packing Advice & Travel Gear

Packing for a trip to Europe, especially if you’re backpacking or aiming to travel light, can be a daunting task. In this phase, we provide comprehensive packing advice, suggest essential travel gear, and offer tips for packing efficiently.

Europe Travel Packing Lists

We’ve curated multiple packing lists tailored to different travel styles. These lists cover functional and fashionable clothing options, essential travel accessories, toiletries, electronics, and items you should consider leaving behind. Whether you’re a male or female traveler, backpacking or looking for a general packing list, we’ve got you covered. We even have a specialized list for winter travel and tips for skincare, makeup, and beauty essentials.

The Best Travel Backpacks

Choosing the right travel backpack is crucial for comfort and convenience. We’ve personally tested various backpacks and compiled a list of the best travel backpacks for both men and women. If you prefer to travel light, we also recommend the best carry-on backpacks.

Travel Gear Buyers Guides

As travel gear enthusiasts, we’ve reviewed numerous products over the years. Our travel gear buyers guides cover everything from travel footwear (shoes and boots) to clothing (underwear, socks, and fashionable options). We also provide insights into travel electronics, including digital cameras, prepaid data plans, SIM cards, and other essential electronics. Lastly, we highlight the best daypacks and packing cubes to enhance your organization and convenience while on the road.

How To Not Look Like A Tourist

Looking like a local while traveling is a common desire. We provide fashion advice and tips to help you blend in and avoid standing out as a tourist. Our tips cover both female and male travelers, offering guidance on clothing choices and cultural norms.

Travel Packing and Organization Strategies

Living out of a suitcase or backpack presents its own challenges. Our travel packing strategies will help you efficiently organize your gear and prevent wrinkles in your clothing. We also provide insights into the benefits of using packing cubes for added organization.

Backpack Vs Suitcase

The eternal debate: backpack or suitcase? We weigh the pros and cons of each option and provide tips to help you determine which luggage style suits your travel needs.

Winter Travel Packing Tips

Traveling to Europe during the winter requires extra attention to your wardrobe choices. Our guide will help you dress properly for the cold, with tips on layering and recommendations for winter gear essentials.

Phase Four: Hostels, Hotels, Rental Apartments & Other Accommodation

Finding the right accommodation is crucial for a comfortable and budget-friendly trip. In this phase, we focus on hostels, rental apartments, Couchsurfing, and other accommodation options.

Guide to European Hostels

Staying in hostels is a popular choice for budget travelers exploring Europe. Our guide covers everything you need to know about hostels, from selecting the perfect one for your travel style to understanding hostel etiquette.

Europe’s Best Hostels

Europe is home to a plethora of incredible hostels. We’ve curated a list of the best hostels in some of the continent’s most popular cities. Whether you’re heading to Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Florence, London, or Paris, our list will help you find the perfect accommodation option.

Couchsurfing in Europe

Couchsurfing offers a unique opportunity to experience Europe from a local’s perspective while saving money on accommodation. We provide a comprehensive guide to Couchsurfing in Europe, highlighting the benefits and offering tips for a successful experience.

Short-Term Apartment Rentals & Airbnb

Short-term apartment rentals, particularly through Airbnb, have become increasingly popular in Europe. We provide a detailed guide to renting Airbnb and vacation apartments, including tips for finding the perfect rental. Additionally, we offer insights into why Airbnb is our top choice for rental apartments.

Phase Five: Trains, Flights, and Other Transportation in Europe

Navigating Europe’s transportation network can be overwhelming with the various options available. In this phase, we discuss trains, flights, cars, buses, and other modes of transportation to help you choose the best method for your travel style and budget.

Complete Guide to Train Travel in Europe

Train travel is often the most convenient and scenic way to explore Europe. Our comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about train travel in Europe, including tips for purchasing tickets, country-specific train travel, and the advantages of using a Eurail Pass. We also offer insights into the best train travel options for specific countries, such as Belgium, England, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland.

How To Purchase Train Tickets

We provide an overview of the various methods for purchasing train tickets, both online and at the station. Understanding the different ticket types and finding the best prices is essential for optimizing your train travel experience.

Eurail Pass Explained

Eurail Passes are a popular choice for exploring Europe, but deciding which pass to choose can be challenging. Our guide explains the different types of Eurail Passes available and helps you determine if a rail pass is worth it for your itinerary.

Budget Air Travel in Europe

Europe is home to many budget airlines, offering affordable flights within the continent. Our guide to budget air travel in Europe provides tips for finding cheap tickets and helps you decide if flying is the right option for your trip. We also offer a survival guide for navigating Ryanair, one of Europe’s most notorious ultra-low-budget carriers.

Traveling Europe by Car

Renting a car offers the freedom to explore smaller towns and villages, but navigating Europe’s roads can be intimidating. Our guide to traveling Europe by car covers important considerations when renting a car and provides tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable road trip.

What’s Cheaper? Comparing Train vs Plane vs Car

To help you determine the most cost-effective transportation option, we compare train, plane, and car travel in Europe. While it’s not a perfect comparison, it offers valuable insights into the relative costs and advantages of each mode of transportation.

Bus/Coach Travel in Europe

Long-distance coach travel is one of the most affordable methods of transportation in Europe, although it may be slower compared to trains or planes. Our guide to coach travel in Europe provides an overview of this budget-friendly option, highlighting its benefits and considerations.

Phase Six: Travel Service Reviews

In this phase, we review various travel products and services that can enhance your travel experience and minimize stress. From Airbnb and Contiki tours to Hostelworld and other valuable resources, we provide honest and unbiased reviews to help you make informed choices.

Airbnb Rental Strategies

Airbnb offers a unique opportunity to live like a local while traveling. We share our insights into using Airbnb, including tips for finding great places to stay and maximizing your rental experience.

Contiki Tour Review

Contiki tours are a popular choice among young travelers. Our review highlights the pros and cons of Contiki tours, helping you decide if they align with your travel style and preferences.

Hostelworld Review

Hostelworld is a trusted platform for finding and booking hostels worldwide. We provide a detailed review of Hostelworld, discussing its features and why it’s our top choice for hostel bookings. We also share strategies for finding the best hostels.

Phase Seven: More Helpful Advice For Traveling Europe On A Budget

In this final phase, we offer general travel tips that cover a wide range of topics, including avoiding tourist scams, using electronics abroad, solo and group travel advice, and online travel resources. These articles aim to enhance your overall travel experience and provide valuable insights into common travel challenges.

Avoiding Tourist Scams and Pickpockets

Europe, like any popular tourist destination, has its fair share of scams and pickpocketing incidents. We provide tips and precautions to help you avoid falling victim to common scams and protect yourself from theft.

How To Use Data Plans and Smartphones in Europe

Using your smartphone and data plan abroad can be costly. Our guide offers practical advice on using smartphones and data plans in Europe, including tips for buying a SIM card and recommendations for the best eSIMs. We also emphasize the importance of managing your usage to avoid excessive roaming charges.

Solo and Group Travel in Europe

Deciding whether to travel solo or with a group is a personal choice. We offer guidance for both options, including tips for solo female travelers and advice on traveling with friends or a significant other.

Using Electronics Abroad

Bringing your electronics on your European journey requires some preparation. We provide a guide to using your electronics in Europe, highlighting what devices are compatible and offering tips for avoiding compatibility issues.

Travel Styles and Sightseeing Strategies

To make the most of your day-to-day travels, we share sightseeing strategies, simple money-saving tips, and advice for avoiding common travel mistakes. We also highlight the benefits of slow travel—the idea of immersing yourself in the local culture and taking the time to truly experience each destination.

Our Favorite Online Travel Resources

We’ve compiled a list of our favorite online travel resources. These websites will assist you in booking and planning your travels, providing valuable information, recommendations, and reviews.

Start Your Own Travel Blog (And How To Make Money)

If you’re passionate about travel and want to share your adventures, our guide on starting a travel blog will help you get started. We provide step-by-step instructions and tips for monetizing your blog to fund your future travels.

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