Backpacking Europe: The Ultimate Guide
Here at Stoke Travel we’ve been carrying our backpacks across Europe for well over a decade now. From Spain and the Mediterranean, up to London and Scandinavia, from the west coast of France, all the way to Munich, Prague and beyond. We’ve done it all, and we’ve done it for next to nothing, making the most in the time between festivals by travelling on the cheap and making the most of our free time. The best backpacking across Europe.
It’s time that we shared our European backpacking knowledge with you, our Stoke Travel family from the past, present or future. Of course, we still operate the craziest camps at Europe’s wildest parties and destinations, but this guide is more about how to prepare for your trip, how you can get around when you’re not with us, and how to successfully navigate the post-Europe comedown.
We think that backpacking Europe isn’t just something you should do as a one off. It’s a delightful and important part of every traveller’s life and a trip so varied you can do it as often as you want and not get bored, not even one bit.
Before you go: how to plan your European backpacking trip
- Ways to save money for your trip. Saving your pennies isn’t easy – everything is so fun, and seemingly expensive, but it’s not impossible, and if you follow our tips you’ll come in hot with a pocket full of change.
- Cheap flights to Europe. So you saved your pennies, but you don’t want to blow them all on the first part of your trip. Well, lucky for you we’ve booked thousands, and we’re going to show you how to do it.
- The ultimate travel checklist. Print it out and put it on your wall. Cross it off as you go. Don’t go until it’s all crossed off, or at least make sure you have a good go at it. This is your guide to packing your backpack before you go backpacking.
- Everything you need to know about your European visa, as well as some tested ways to stay for longer, including the working holiday program.
- Why you should get travel insurance, because you really should get travel insurance.
- Some travel advice learned from our past mistakes. We got in all kinds of troubles just so you don’t have to.
Flying tips from world-class travellers
- First you have to get to Europe, and for most of us that means a long journey. Well, take the sting out of international travel with our tips about how to prepare for a long haul flight.
- Now you’ve prepared for the flight and the day is here. Are you ready? You will be with our tips on how to survive a long flight in economy class.
While backpacking through Europe
- How to find cheap accommodation. From hostels to hotels, using the sharing economy, relying on the kindness of strangers, and more.
- How to survive backpacker hostel life. It might not be what you’re used to. Maybe because of the noise, the grossness, the lack of privacy. Well, hostel life is an inevitability of backpacking life, but we’re going to make it more than bearable for you.
- How to avoid pickpockets in Europe. While relatively free of violent crime, some cities are often seen as being a haven for pickpockets, thieves and other petty criminals. Don’t let them ruin your trip, know their tricks and how to avoid being robbed.
- The evening meal might be the most important to backpackers, a time to chat, pre-drink and, obviously, fill the belly with fuel. Across the continent meal times can vary greatly, so here’s a guide to average dinner times in Europe, so you don’t get caught hungry.
- How to get the best mobile plan. One with lots of data because Google Maps and Tinder are more important than mumsy’s twice-daily checkup calls. Also, Europe has no roaming charges as of 2018, so you can travel the continent and swipe right like a legend.
- Ways to save money while on your trip. You’ve done all the saving and you’re enjoying backpacker life, but with these tried and tested techniques you can make those euros go a little further. Spend the money on fun stuff, by saving on these essentials.
- Unfortunately, you’re going to have to spend some of your hard-earned savings while backpacking through the continent. Make sure you always find the best way to use money in Europe.
How To Move Across Europe
- European travel options. Planes, trains, automobiles… Europe has them all! But how are you going to move around the continent during your ultimate backpacking superduper trip-of-a-lifetime? The answer is: a little bit of everything.
- How to rent a car in Europe. Oh the freedom! If you’re above a certain age and have a valid credit card and an international driver’s license and… but if you can tick the boxes this is the only way to roll.
- Driving in Europe. It’s totally easy, but maybe a little intimidating. You can do it, we have faith in you, just remember which side of the road we drive on, and get ready for some pretty big tolls.
- Is it worth your while getting a Eurail Pass? There’s no more romantic way to travel across Europe than by train. They go everywhere, and they do so at a frighteningly rapid rate. They stop in the city centre. You can walk about and cavort with cute strangers. But sometimes the passes are expensive.
- European campervan life. Live like a turtle! Moving slowly with your house on your back. Pooping in bushes. Going wherever you want. Making friends with grey nomads in a similar situation. Campervan life is the life for us, here’s how to get it done.
- Finding cheap flights in Europe. The nature of the European Union means that flying between countries is as big a hassle, and a similar price, to flying interstate at home. Sometimes you’ve got to jump in that big bird and get somewhere in a matter of hours, not days, and you’re going to need to do that on the cheap.
- A brief guide to European bus travel. It’s not ideal, but it is cheap, and that’s sometimes all that matters. The highways in Europe are spectacular and so the buses get to where they’re going with ease. Sometimes you’ve got to suck it up and save some cash.
European food, drinks and parties
- One of the best things about travelling is discovering new places and then eating all their food. Make sure you eat the right things in each place, with our guide to best European food, a country by country guide to the continent’s weird, delicious and typical dishes.
- Eating and drinking is one of the most pleasurable things we can do while backpacking – and also one of the most expensive. Learn how to lessen the blow with our guide to eating cheap meals while travelling.
- Don’t eat meat? Dairy? Eggs? Don’t let your diet hold you back with our hints and tips for vegan and vegetarian backpacking in Europe.
- Europe is home to some delicious food, delicious, fatty, salty food. Eating well while backpacking is difficult, but not impossible if you follow our simple guide to eating healthy on a budget.
City and Country Guides
- Spain, always Spain, beautiful and sunny Spain, Spain that’s often covered in snow, mountainous Spain, miserable Spain, Spain where they don’t even speak Spanish… hmm, seems like there’s more to Spain than we orginally thought.
- Barcelona is one of the world’s greatest cities, a centre of art, architecture, food and especially partying. No trip to Europe is complete without a visit to the Catalan capital, and our guide should help you leave with the best memories — and your wallet.
- Sitges, sometimes known as the Saint Tropez of Spain, is Europe’s seaside gay capital, and the location of the best Carnaval we’ve ever cha cha cha’d to.
- Valencia is Spain’s third largest city, and another Mediterranean miracle, a city of huge parties and delicious oranges, sometimes mixed together.
- San Sebastian is the jewel of the Basque Country, a place where the mountains meet the sea and backpackers meet the world’s best food, great surf and non-stop parties.
- You’re always guaranteed a party in Ibiza, where the world’s best DJs and beautiful party people congregate every summer, but beyond that you’ll find a gorgeous, natural island surrounded by the perfectly azure Mediterranean sea.
- Most people haven’t even heard of the Pyrenees principality of Andorra, but this bucketlist destination is home to awesome mountains, snow sports, and Stoke Travel’s famous ski trips.
- The biggest party of the year takes place in Germany, but there’s much more to Europe’s most powerful and populous nation than just beer (although beer is very important).
- France! Is there anywhere finer than the land renowned for its gastronomy, art, wine, waves and beaches absolutely filled with naked sun-seekers? Non!
- The best of France is found in Biarritz, the surfy seaside resort down by the border with Spain, and where the Fetes de Bayonne go down every year.
- Edinburgh is the Scottish capital and cultural centre. It’s a city of arts and lerning, haggis and Scotch whisky. Oh, it’s also home to the New Year’s Eve Hogmanay celebration, which we absolutely adore.