Backpacking through Europe – Insights

Backpacking in Europe: From Glasgow to Kiev

It takes about 2 months to backpack across Europe and this is one of the biggest dreams of many students and young people. The best time to do this kind of trip in your life is before you are 25, because that’s when all the ‘young person’ discounts tend to expire.

Backpacking is all about efficiency and affordability. That’s why you’ll want to learn to live slightly less well than you would in the comfort of your own home town. Some basic tips then, first:

1) Food and drink

The healthiest drink is simply water. This is the drink that will keep you going and is also the cheapest option. You should eat the most for breakfast. Have a big, hearty meal. If you are staying in a youth hostel breakfast is usually a buffet style so put something away for lunch, make a few sandwiches. Dinner doesn’t have to be extravagant or fancy. It’s good to have a nice meal once or twice a week but generally your dinner should be another time you save. Consider cooking your own if your youth hostel or camping ground allows it.

2) Travel

There are several ways to do this, but the two most common are by train or by bus. Both the European railways and the European bus lines offer student or young people’s passes which allow very significant 30% discounts. It’s also possible to buy a bus or rail pass and this is certainly the most efficient way to travel. The pass will allow you to book tickets on any European train or bus, but often you need to book 24 hours in advance in person, so you’ll need to plan your trip accordingly.

There are of course other ways to travel across Europe and one of the popular ones is to cycle. This is very arduous though and is best attempted with a few friends who are very fit. Driving across Europe is also a very good option, because renting a car is very cheap nowadays and also the European highways are some of the best in the entire world. You can get to many places very fast in Europe by car.

Finally, there are several large rivers that run through Europe, such as the Seine, Rhine and Danube.

3) Visas and passports

You will need your passport to get into Europe, but generally when you travel from one EU country to another nobody will ask to see you’re ID. The police may do random checks on the street and in this case you’ll have to show your passport so it’s best to carry it with you at all times. US and Canadian citizens do not need a visa to travel to the EU.

However, if you wish to travel in Europe but outside of the EU, such as to the Ukraine, Albania or Russia, then you will need to obtain the relevant visa from the country you wish to visit.