Need to immerse yourself in the Moorish architecture in the south of Spain, or sunbathe on the beaches of Cannes? Or do you want to experience what a real pizza is like in Italy? But you are probably wondering how you can have all these experiences without having to sell a kidney. It is simple. You lower your standards and opt for cheap accommodation and public transport, a practice commonly known as backpacking. Because at the end of the day, when you are experiencing what a new land has to offer you, it does not matter whether you slept in a five-star hotel or a cheap hostel the previous night. Van Gogh would not judge you if you are enjoying his paintings, but you travelled to his museum on a rented bicycle. So, if one is to experience something as historically diverse and multiculturally humongous as Europe, they should consider backpacking. And if you have settled on taking a backpacking trip through Europe, here are seven tips to ensure that you are fully prepared and that you will enjoy your experience to the fullest.
Make sure you have a route in mind:
The factor favouring every backpacker in Europe is that Schengen countries allow travel across their borders with the least amount of restrictions. You basically need one visa for the whole region which will enable you visa-free travel over 26 countries. However, this does not mean that you should not plan a route for your trip and should travel haphazardly. This will result in not only unnecessary costs but will also lead to useless waste of your energies. So, when you fix a route for your tip, just keep in mind that you choose a route that is more or less in one direction; east to west, north to south and vice versa. An important thing to take note of is that there are countries in the EU not part of the Schengen agreement, especially a belt of states between Greece and the rest of Europe. So, if you are in Italy or Hungary, you won’t be able to travel by road to Greece and will have to take the ferry or plane. If this seems like it will inflate your budget, you should consider applying for a visa for the non-Schengen countries that you intend to pass through.
Insure your travel:
Travel insurance is one thing that people tend to ignore and later on regret not purchasing when a health emergency costs them dearly. Travel insurance is generally meant to prevent you from losing money due to lost baggage, cancelled flights and bookings. But considering that you are backpacking which entails travelling with the least amount of luggage and using the cheapest forms of transport, ideally, you should not worry about insurance. But sadly, you do need travel insurance because of medical emergencies. Europe has one of the best health services available, but that is advantageous only for those who are insured. For tourists who don’t happen to be insured, a simple call for an ambulance can cost you hundreds of euros.
Save money on food:
There are multiple ways of saving money on food. One good option is to go to non-native eateries, for example, a Turkish or Middle Eastern restaurant in Germany or Spanish restaurant in Italy. Non-native eateries can actually be really expensive, especially those that are targeted at the native elite. On the other hand, there are non-native eateries run by poor immigrants. These are the cheaper ones and going to them would mean you are not only saving on money, but also helping a small business while getting a taste of foreign cuisine. If you intend to feast on the local cuisine of the place you are visiting, lunch menus are usually offered at discounted rates. Also, shopping at the grocery store and cooking at home is one of the better ways to save money.
Save money on accommodation:
Booking in advance will not only save you from a headache but also some currency. Also, as a backpacker, you should be aiming for hostels which are drastically lower priced than hotels. You can also split rooms between multiple people, but you lose on comfort. Moreover, couchsurfing is another way of going easy on your wallet.
Save money on transport:
Many European cities are bicycle friendly with dedicated cycling lanes on roads, which is why there are tonnes of rent-a-bike companies. So, be open to cycling as it will give you greater mobility than the city’s public transport and is much cheaper. If you want to use public transport, do some research beforehand as public transportation companies offer multiple-day passes. Buying these would be less expensive than purchasing a day-pass every day. For travelling to another country, consider moving by bus rather than train as they are much cheaper but do take more time.
Be your own medic:
You may have travel insurance, but circumstances may not permit you easy access to a hospital. You may be camping far from the city and may not want to ruin it over a bruise. To prevent this, keep a first aid kit with you. A typical first aid kit should contain gauze, bandages, antiseptic and antibiotic ointment, anti-sting creams, cotton balls, pain and digestive stress relievers. Most of this equipment is readily available at Click Pharmacy, an online medical platform to suit your pharmaceutical needs.
Backpacking is cheap, but it also brings with it some dangers that you need to be cautious of. Europe is generally quite safe, but petty crimes like pickpocketing and stealing happen, and gullible tourists are the perfect victims for this. You may have to share a hostel with some unknown person or may have to sleep at a station. You may be immersed in a crowded tourist spot and have someone subtly lift your wallet from your pocket. These things can easily be prevented with a little bit of caution. Always keep your phone and wallet in your front pockets, keep your belongings close to your body if sleeping in public or around unknown people. Never keep all your currency in one place and remember, not every friendly person is your friend.