A Beginner’s Guide to Backpacking across Europe
Travel is very important for developing a more realistic view of the world, learning to be more emphatic, getting to experience unique cultures, taste some excellent food and drinks, and to just let off some steam. For some, it is a matter of luxury and comfort, while some, mostly the younger crowd, prefer adventure and excitement. Backpacking has become incredibly popular, as it really is a good way to experience the true essence of other cultures, learn to be more self-reliant and meet interesting characters along the way.
Europe is probably the best place on earth for some serious backpacking, since you get plenty of bang for your buck, so to speak. The Old Continent is densely packed with significant cultural sites dating centuries, and even millennia back, and there is a large amount of variety in terms of culture, cuisine and weather. Here are a few important rules for those looking for a fun adventure in Europe, with nothing but a backpack on their back and the wind in their face.
Find the Right People to Travel With
While traveling alone can be an interesting experience – like a journey of self-discovery – having someone with you has many benefits. For one, things can be a lot cheaper when you split the bill in two, three or four ways. Another thing to consider is that you will be a lot safer when you travel in a pack, and you will never get bored or lonely when you have a few good friends with you.
Know your surroundings
Before deciding on a rough trail that you will be following in your travels, make sure to acquaint yourself with the local climate, terrain and the layout of major cities you will be passing through. You can take a few screenshots of Google maps with major points of interest marked on them – cool coffee shops, affordable restaurants with good food, cheap hostels, etc. – and keep those images on your phone, as you won’t always be able to access free WiFi.
Get a Good Backpack and Bring All the Essentials
Think about it, the clue is in the name – backpacking. The most important item for the trip is going to be your backpack, so make sure to choose a backpack that can get the job done, i.e. survive plenty of wear and tear, handle a heavy load and make carrying the load for hours fairly comfortable. As for packing, you want to think about preparing for emergencies, and being able to deal with various small daily tasks. A decent first aid kit, and emergency items like a flashlight, multi tool, medium-sized knife should be a basic part of your equipment.
Clothes for different types of weather, spare underpants and socks – and bras for ladies – and a spare pair of comfortable sneakers is also important. Pack your backpack wisely and don’t overburden yourself with unnecessary items.
Learn the Language and Local Customs
A few simple phrases just won’t cut it. You want to be able to string sentences together without too much trouble, know a lot of the most common words that you will be using in day to day conversation, and be aware of slang terms – there are different kind of dialects in any language, so research how people speak in those areas that you will be visiting. Understanding basic customs of several different cultures is essential. You will be traveling through different countries, and each of them has a bunch of unwritten rules, so make sure to research them well.
Take the Right Safety Precautions
There are a lot of thieves and violent people lurking about in any country, and since your travels will take you through several countries, you can bet that you will run into a few bad eggs along the way. There are some useful tips on staying safe that you can follow, but you should really avoid traveling on foot late at night, going into dimply lit or secluded areas, and you should be aware of people’s body language which often gives off bad intent.
Traveling Europe is a wonderful experience, and the freedom and close personal interactions you get during a backpacking trip are truly amazing. So, be smart about it, do your research, pack your backpack well, and be alert, and you will be fine and have tons of fun.