Getting ready for you Backpacking trip through Europe

In travel, there are several traditions that many go through. This includes the hiking trip, the city break, the night spent in the wilderness, and so on. It’s not quite as common as those, but the backpacking trip through the continent of Europe can feel like a rite of passage to many, especially those who do it during a gap year or before they head off into the big bad world of employment. It can become a life-changing trip but as freeing and open as it seems, it’s not something that should be done spontaneously. Here are some tips on how you can best prepare to make your trip successful and safe.

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Plan out where you’re going to go

One of the big advantages of a backpacking trip might seem like the option to go anywhere and everywhere at your whim. However, when you’re out there, you might find that it can take some work to get from one rest stop to the next, so you want to make sure that you have some idea of where your next stop is. For that reason, plan out your route in advance. But you can still be flexible, take detours, and explore what makes you curious, so long as you know how to get back to your path.

Pick where you’re going based on the season

You might want to see a wide variety of different locations, to get a taste of not just different cultures but also different climates and terrains. However, you should always bear in mind what you should expect when it comes to visiting a location during a certain type of year. The south of Europe, close to the Mediterranean, might be sunny and gorgeous in the summer, but autumn tends to be better for those who want a quieter trip, for instance. Look at your locations, find out when their peak seasons are, and see if you can time your trip well.

Have some places to stay

Traditionally, the idea is that backpackers will take what places to stay they can find from friends along the way, from hostels, and whatever shelter they can find. If you’re planning on improvising where you stay, then you should make sure that you have a tent as camping is one of the best ways to see each country on the way. Otherwise, you really should plan to have some hotels, BNBs, and traditional accommodation options along the way. Booking in advance is typically the easiest way to make sure you’re not left without a bed, but this will force you to plan your trip to a slightly stricter itinerary, so make the choice yourself.

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Make sure that you have the right backpack

Given that these kinds of trips are named after the thing, it should be no surprise that your choice of the backpack will matter a lot for the trip. You should make sure that you get one that is comfortable to wear given your own size and shape. What’s more, you should try on your backpack when it’s full to get an idea of how much it’s really going to weigh to lug around. In fact, you might want to go for a few practice walks with it. Otherwise, choosing the best backpack means considering the features that you need, be it water resistance, a bunch of storage pockets, anti-theft features and so on.

Pack what you need (but not the whole kitchen sink)

You should get used to the feeling of a full backpack, but you should make sure that you leave some room as best as possible. There are plenty of packing lists that you can look up, but some of the lighter ones will make sure that you have everything you need without overloading your backpack. That way, not only are you not going to be dealing with back-aching weight throughout your entire trip, but you’re also going to be able to pick up a few things on your travels such as souvenirs that you can remember your trip. Get a good idea of what creature comforts you can leave behind.

Make sure that you’re good to go, legally

Travel restrictions and allowances are changing for a lot of people due to certain members leaving the EU, not to mention the impact of the coronavirus. If you’re not within the EU or the Schengen zone, then you still might not necessarily need a visa to get into it for your travels. However, you may still need to submit an EITAS application to be able to get access to the area, after which you’re free to explore for up to 90 days, according to the currently published guidelines. Do take note that these rules are subject to change, so it’s important to do your research and make sure that you’re reading the most up-to-date information available when looking at these matters.

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Stay safe and stay mindful

Backpacking across Europe can be incredibly freeing, but you are also entirely responsible for yourself and your own safety. Solo travel is not something to be shunned and feared, but you should plan accordingly if you do plan on going on your own. Be vigilant, invest in anti-theft features to keep your wallet and phone safe, be wary of strangers outside of settled public areas (such as in a restaurant or hostel), and don’t move to any locations at someone’s request (unless you have specifically hired them as a guide, of course). Unfortunately, it is always the case that women need to be extra vigilant when travelling alone or in groups, but there are guides that can help you prepare in detail to offer yourself some peace of mind.

Take every opportunity to cut costs

A backpacking trip can go on for longer than expected and can involve all sorts of little surprises and changes along the way. As such, it’s a good idea to plan out a budget that can help you get through it and stick to it as best as possible. However, where you have the opportunity to cut your costs, you should rely on it. This might mean taking the opportunity to find cheaper hotel rooms, planning ahead with travel passes if you plan on using public transport at any point, and so on. Treating yourself is no big issue every now and then, but you want to be self-reliant with self-catering and basic supplies most of the time to make sure your money stretches to cover the entire trip.

Check everything before you go

If you’re heading off in a couple of weeks or so, it’s time to make sure that you have a checklist of all of the things that you need to make your trip go smoothly. Aside from legal entry to the continent, as mentioned above, make sure that you have a valid passport that isn’t expired. Consider having travel insurance to cover any accidents or incidents that you might have while travelling. Let your bank or credit card provider know in advance that you’re going to be travelling across Europe. Write down any important details you need to keep on you, such as passport number, phone numbers, any reservation numbers you have, and so on, in a travel journal.

Of course, right now, backpacking through Europe has become a lot more difficult due to the pandemic. Plans may have to change depending on the countries you plan on visiting or, as is most likely to happen, you can postpone your trip until fortune is a little more in your favour.

{A big Thank You to those who sponsor/support Mascara & Mud}

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