Europe is as exquisite as it is expensive, and often it makes us wonder whether beauty demands a hefty price. While scores of travelers will probably get you down with discouraging responses, starting from a straight-knocker yes to a detailed itinerary illustrating the expensive undertaking, this article will provide you 3 sneaky tips to travel through Europe for cheap. Backpacking in Europe is the way, Ladies and good guys, and it’s about to get very real. Let’s get started.
One small note though, we shall be jumping from step to step just to make it better for understanding the process, so bear with us.
Step 1: Wallet and documents
The most important part of your trip would be safeguarding the essentials. Wallet, with money to live, see, eat and in some cases, coining to the loo. Your wallet should always be with you and kept where hands can instantly reach. In the absolute worst and unfortunate case where you lose all your documents, luggage and belongings, the money in your wallet can get you to your own embassy and get you a temporary travel document to at least fly back home. However, when roaming around in Europe, that’s the kind of punishment I would not even wish on my enemies.
Documents are important - visas, passport, proper identification, tickets, hotel bookings, etc. Always remember to stock soft copies on your cloud network or phone. This can save your life, like it saved mind. Twice.
Step 2: Plan it out!
There are three dimensions to this. First, you need to take out a map of Europe and just stare at it. If you are aiming to backpack all of Europe, you’ll find that Europe can be split into four parts. Draw a line through Germany and you’ll have your trip split wide open, full of opportunities. Part A is the Europe with France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, the Swiss lands and Czech Republic in it and the second division contains Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Austria and the likes. Move upwards and find Sweden, Finland, Norway and Russia, just right to the United Kingdom, which is the fourth part.
Perks of backpacking: Embracing this beauty in Prague
Second, you’ll have to find out the starting point. Usually, determining cheapest airfare is the deal breaker. Wherever you can land the cheapest can be a very good starting point. For this read, let’s assume that we land In Greece. From then on, the best possible route will be to roam around cities during the day and sleep on an inter-state bus at night. Inter-state buses going through different countries at night are very cheap yet very comfortable. Starting from 5 euros, they will help you move your way round. Now that you have fixed a port of entry, on to selecting the cities you want to visit. For every connection in your map, search for a bus that leaves at night and you’ll be able to map your way. I’d start from Athens, have a looksie when the sun is shining and the night is young, hop on a bus and sleep my way to the neighbouring country. If your plan is to jump from Athens to Croatia, you should look up cheap inter-Euro flights which usually start from 30 euros. So a flight-filled itinerary can jump from Athens to Croatia, to Vienna, Austria, the next day and take a bus to the fairy tale city of Prague at night. The next bus to Germany will easily get you into Berlin nice and cozy for a day’s break of chill and sunshine. The immediate next bus will get you to France, preferably Paris, which is a perfect destination for a good 3 day break in your backpacking.
Step 3: Affordable accommodation
Europe is well-known for its cheap hostels which is...breathable. This makes it possible for you to just stay the night and rest, leave your bags while you roam around the cities in the morning with your cameras and shorts on. For travelers seeking a bit of luxury, AirBnB is a real thing in Europe and quite kicking. One crucial thing to remember is seasonal rates - accommodation rates are lower during chilly days in winter than the summer. Therefore, if you invest just a bit on warm clothes and necessary medicine, you're set. Hostel accommodations can start from 20 euros a night and will do wonders to re-energize your soul.
Back to Step 2
A little retreat in France will prepare you well for Italy. There are cheap buses in Paris which should transfer you to Rome by night. There is an option of taking cheap flights out as well. Since Italy is right beside France, flights will be quite cheap. Important to note here is that domestic flight prices vary, therefore always good to buy flights early for great deals!
Italy is where your prices start to hike a little. The logical move from Italy would be to visit Spain. You’ll have to cross the ocean, which means flight prices can rise due to greater distance covered. However, do remember that these flights can still be well within your reach - starting from 70 euros one way. Spain opens up a door to sunny days and windy cities and it gets better when you cross the border to Portugal with another inter-State bus. Allocating 4 days to this region can be quite adequate for you to explore the cities you wish to visit – popularly known as Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla and Porto. The next step would be to take the big flight out to the UK. Flights will cost more since options can be quite limited, and you probably even have to lay over in a country you visited before.
Let’s bring in Step 3 a bit now
United Kingdom is one of those peculiar countries which always generates mixed reviews. A lot of us love to be in the United Kingdom and spend as much time as they possibly can, roaming around cities like London, Bristol, crossing the border to Glasgow in Scotland and Dublin in Ireland. However, dull British weather can easily leave a bad taste in your mouth. Therefore, choosing to be in London for an extended amount of time is quite subjective. However, the UK does have quite a lot of history for your to stop and look at and that’s where things get interesting. The aforementioned accommodation costs stay the same even in this region, but they can be a bit more depending on the location of your hostel. Rooms near big landmarks can be priced high and hostels asking for long walks to the Big Ben might cost you less. In my opinion, 5 days covering the greater United Kingdom will set you up well for your next semi-long haul flight to the last part of your Epic Backpacking through Europe – Sweden. This is the region where, much like the Netherlands and France, things appear to be a bit expensive. Therefore, saving up on meals not only help you find the better end of cheap food deals, but to explore while you walk. Your trip to this part of Europe can get you to cover Sweden, Norway and Russia as countries at the popular end of the stick. A 5 day trip through these countries will make sure that you covered the essentials for this epic trip.
At the end of it, you’ll have to travel back to your port of entry, which will most likely be your port of exit because return flights save money. This means another long-haul flight inside Europe which can be covered within 150 euros at the very maximum. Throughout your backpacking of mythic proportions, you should focus on the cities you really want to unwind and roam around in i.e. Paris, cities which are strategically important to stay in i.e. Prague, London, and cities to flash your way through i.e. Bratislava. This can quite easily divide the itinerary into three parts and prepare you adequately, without taxing on your luggage. Since internal Europe flights require you to pay for additional weight on your luggage, it is quite important to pack light and understand the cities where you can stay in and do the laundry. It is also important to note that adaptability is key: You should always be able to adapt your itinerary while moving through Europe and interchange locations and duration of stay.
If you maintain the guidance (not the mapped itinerary though, that’s entirely on your preference, good Ma’m/ gentle sir!) and plan your trip out, it will save you hundreds of bucks and have you adequately prepared for this. A total of a 1000 euros, including hostels, flights, buses, food and other expenses, to the extreme maximum can have you pull this off with seamless ease. However, if you never backpacked before, I encourage you to go on small backpack tours around your homeland to adequately prepare yourself for this. The Epic Backpack through Europe is not tough, but requires you to be focused on the bigger picture of exploring and not be bogged down by minor details like small hostel rooms. Europe is one of the most beautiful places to explore, and find yourself in the process. A willing self and preparedness is always key, and always has been.