Backpacking in Europe: Top 6 Things to Plan Ahead

Are you finally ready to book those flight tickets and head out on an adventure? Backpacking through Europe for a few months at some point in your life is a dream for so many people, and if you’re ready to take the plunge, it’s something you won’t regret.

However, this should never be an impulsive decision! There’s a lot of planning that needs to go into a trip like this, even if you want to go with the flow and wing it as much as possible on your travels. This type of holiday is absolutely fine – and even preferable – but that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for getting your ducks in a row first.

Research Visa Requirements and Entry Regulations

Of course, you need to legally be able to get there. European visa regulations will usually depend on your nationality and the reason you’re travelling. Most travellers find that a Schengen visa is good enough to get you into any country in the Schengen Area, but certain areas will still have certain restrictions.

Do extensive research on the countries you hope to visit, look into insurance requirements for the Schengen Visa, and make sure you have a clear understanding of the application process and processing times. You should also remember to consider factors like how long your visa is valid for, and how to obtain a possible extension if you think you might need it.

Secure Comprehensive Travel Insurance

Getting comprehensive travel insurance is a must, especially for an extended trip like the one you’re planning. Insurance offers you a financial security blanket against a bunch of different unplanned issues that might pop up.

Depending on which policy you pick, this could include health emergencies, emergency evacuations, lost or stolen baggage, trip cancellations, and more. Make sure you read carefully into the policy information to understand the coverage limits, exclusions, how to file a claim, how much excess you’ll pay if you do need to claim, and other important details pertaining to insurance. While you’re travelling, make sure to keep a physical or digital copy of your insurance documentation for you at all times.

Budget Carefully and Manage Your Finances

Coming up with a detailed and realistic budget is non-negotiable when embarking on such a massive trip unless you want things to go belly up pretty quickly.

You need to plan what you’ll be spending on travel and transport, accommodation, activities, meals, souvenirs, and even emergencies. Using a spreadsheet or an app to help you plan your expenses can be helpful, and you can also use this to track your spending while you’re on your trip. Remember to research what things cost on average in each country you plan on visiting, and look for ways you can make your money stretch a bit by opting for more budget-friendly options.

Pack Smart for Comfort and Convenience

When you’re going to be on the move and shifting from place to place every couple of days, you really don’t want to be (literally) weighed down by heavy and excessive baggage. Pack as light as possible to keep things practical.

Only bring along the necessities on your trip. Think of items like weather-appropriate clothing, phone chargers, a compact toiletry bag, a good pair of shoes, and a reusable water bottle. Remember that you can buy what you need when you’re there, and you can wash your clothes at laundromats regularly to avoid overpacking. Cut down on unnecessary bits and pieces as much as possible to lighten your load.

Create A Flexible Itinerary

Having a plan is important, but being adaptable is what’s going to help ensure that you really enjoy your trip to the fullest.

Instead of planning your trip minute by minute, create a big list of everything you would like to see, do, and eat in each city and country you visit. Do your research and note down your top priorities. Chat to locals if possible for their advice and recommendations, and consider what you want to achieve from your trip. Once you have your list, you can use it to guide your days based on what you feel like and which areas you’re in. This is a helpful way to balance planning and spontaneity and leave room for those moments when you discover something new and unexpected and can’t pass it by!

Learn Local Etiquette and Some Basic Phrases

Finally, before you leave, remember the importance of being able to communicate – especially if you’re planning a solo trip.

Learning some essential phrases in the local language of the country (or countries) you will be visiting will take you much further than if you aren’t able to communicate at all. Pay attention to greetings, asking for directions, expressing gratitude, ordering food, shopping, and looking for help. Remember that language is also more than words, so having an understanding of social cues is also a good idea!


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