Backpack in hand, you are ready to head to Europe for some fun and sun. Here is some advice for backpackers from someone who has done it multiple times and made the mistakes.
In my personal opinion, spending a few weeks or months backpacking in Europe should be a mandatory task for every person. Admittedly, it can’t really be called a task since you will love every minute of it. Having backpacked Europe more times than I can count, here are some lessons I learned which can help you.
The first piece of advice is to limit the number of things you take. Europe is not located on a faraway planet. If you can buy it here, you can buy it there. This includes items such as soap, socks, toothpaste, disposable digital cameras, and guidebooks. I guarantee that you will take too much junk with you. Don’t. One or two pairs of shoes, shorts, one pair of slacks [to get into museums and churches], and a couple of shirts are all you need. If you need anything else, you can just buy it there.
There is a lot to see and do in Europe, so most people want to maximize their time. One way to do this is to travel and sleep at the same time. Yes, I am talking about the night trains. When moving from one location to another, try to take the latest train and sleep during the trip. You only have a set amount of time. Taking this approach will keep you from wasting valuable daylight hours on the road.
One of the key pieces of advice I can offer you is to use your common sense. If you wouldn’t walk down that alley or into that establishment at home, why the heck are you going to do it in Europe? Europe is very safe and the people are friendly. That being said, every location has its rough spots. Avoid them. Particularly in the Eastern European countries. Trust me on this one!
To maximize your experience, it is best to get off the beaten path. When you visit a city, spend at least a day in a town outside the city limits. You will discover the real nature of the country. Tourists are fewer, so people tend to be interested in talking with you. There is always a group of older men sitting in a café. Join them and you will be laughing for hours. I did this in Austria and ended up speaking for a week in a little village called Hallstatt. One of the best times I ever had.
When it comes to tip backpackers and Europe, this final piece of advice is very important. Do not try to see everything. Stick to one country for two weeks, but no less than one week. This lets you get the most out of the visit.
Yes, there are other countries, but you will just have to come back again to see them.