What you do at home before heading to Europe can help make your trip easier, more enjoyable and help reduce your travel costs. By planning your itinerary and booking things like tours, accommodations and transportation before leaving, you might be able to find early booking discounts and possibly find package deals available when booking in advance.
Of course you do not want to look like a tourist while backpacking, but travel guide books are every traveler’s bible. These books include everything from travel tips and tricks, as wells as lists of all accommodations, sights and transportation options. Some of the best guidebooks and online resources to get include In Your Pocket, Spotted by Locals and Unlike.Net. There are also many destination-specific guidebooks sold online and in local bookstores, including Fodor’s, Eyewitness Guides, Lonely Planet and Rick Steves – Europe Through the Back Door.
Creating an itinerary before you leave will help determine where you will be visiting and what areas you will need to book accommodations in. Because there is so much to see in Europe, this could be the most difficult part of your travel planning period. Make a list of things you want to see and do. Depending upon how long your trip will be, you may have to be creative in your planning to ensure you get to do everything you want. If you have more time to explore, leave some open time in your itinerary so you can go with the flow and see where the day takes you.
Even a little bit of planning helps you reduce time wasted finding accommodations, looking for a ride and navigating your way through a new city. Even if you want to just go where the day takes you, at least make minimal preparations by booking a room and downloading maps to review before departing. To have enough time to explore, give yourself at least three days for larger cities and one to two days for the smaller ones.
Passports And Visas
Traveling to Europe will require you to have an updated and current passport book. If you do not have a passport, allow four to six weeks for it to be processed. Expedited services are available for an additional fee and will take approximately two to three weeks.
A visa is not always required to travel through Europe and most Americans can visit the United Kingdom for up to six months without one. Other countries throughout Europe have different travel restrictions regarding different lengths of stay they allow foreigners to travel the country.
Related: How to Get a Travel Visa
Pack light when backpacking through Europe. Everything you bring with you will be carried on your back, so it is important to not pack more than 22 pounds worth of clothing, gear and the backpack. Anything more might put you at risk for carry-on limits for budget airlines and could weigh you down.
Pack outfits that can be mixed and matched and only bring a few shirts and pants. If traveling for several weeks, make plans to do laundry during your trip. Depending upon the weather, you will want to dress in layers, instead of a bulky coat. The layers make it possible to take some clothing off when you get warm and makes it easier for you to move around.
Do not weight your bag down with hairspray, gels and other liquids. Only bring the basics like shampoo/conditioner combo, body soap and toothpaste. Do not forget to pack enough underwear and socks to last between laundry stops.
Shoes are bulky and can take up a lot of room in a backpack. If possible, only bring one pair of comfortable shoes (the ones on your feet). A comfortable pair of hiking or walking shoes are perfect for a backpacking adventure. If you need to pack a second pair, find a pair that is lightweight and can easily be flattened out in your backpack. It might also be a good idea to pack a pair of flip flops with you as your second pair. These can be used when walking around the hostel at night or on a summer day while you are lounging around a park, lake or by a pool.
If you are planning on bringing electronics with you, such as a phone, tablet or camera, you need to pack a power converter. This ensures you are able to charge these items while traveling through Europe. Without it, you many end up with a dead battery in a single day.
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