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mea05key's avatar

Tips and Advice required for backpacking in Europe?

Asked by mea05key (1802points) July 24th, 2010

I am about to start planning my first backpacking journey from the UK which will last for around 6 weeks. My plan is to start in September and return by mid October. My travel is mainly for adventure, photography (landscape, architecture), history, learning, meeting people. I appreciate any advice, tips on the following:-
a)Budget
b)Suggestion of any destination in Europe and period of travel
c)Method of traveling
d)Safety
e)Essential items in my bag
f)Dos and Don’ts
g)Worth while joinning backpacking tour instead of solo-ing? Suggestion?

Thank you in advance !! =)

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11 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Toilet paper.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Travel by train. You can buy a travel pass in advance that will allow you to go pretty much anywhere in mainland Europe and it works out cheaper than buying individual tickets. Also you don’t have to plan as much in advance. If you wake up and want to go from Paris to Rome you just turn up at the station and off you go.

Another thing to consider is how much you take in your bag. If you go nuts and pack too much stuff you’ll hate yourself, you’ll hate the bag and you won’t have any fun. Take the minimum clothes and wash them where ever you are staying. Bear in mind that clothes made out of man made fibres (polypropylene sports tops in particular) will start to smell stale almost as soon as you put them on, where as t-shirts made from merino wool won’t smell even after being worn for several days.

@marinelife I don’t know which bit of Europe you visited or when, but nowadays you’re able to buy toilet paper 24hrs a day nearly everywhere

marinelife's avatar

@Lightlyseared Many places in Europe (France, for example) toilet paper is like school paper towels. Rough on one’s tender parts.

Nullo's avatar

You could spend your entire trip in Italy and still not see all of the good stuff. I suggest that you try anyway. If you do, please, please try to visit Lucca. Nobody ever does, and it’s starting to bug me

Travel is always more fun with companions.

Europe is, by and large, fairly safe. That is, you needn’t fear for your life or even your well-being so much, but your wallet may be another story. Big cities are, as ever, more likely to be dangerous.

Stay in hostels if you’re on a budget.

Don’t talk loudly in public. You probably don’t think that you do anyway, but you’d be surprised.

Learn a few basic phrases, and use ‘em. Your efforts will doubtless be appreciated. There is, by no account that I’ve heard, any pleasing the French, so don’t worry about them. There is only so much that speaking slowly can do.
Listen to how other people pronounce their words.

Watch the currency exchange rates, and only exchange currency on favorable days. The Euro has been in a bit of a slump, but it’s clawing its way back up.

Most restaurants include your tip in the bill.
Generally, the farther you are from points of interest, the less money your meal will cost.

In Italy, at least, don’t expect fair pricing from street vendors unless you’re shopping with a local. There is no way that you can avoid coming across as a tourist, and those prices aren’t fixed.

Don’t be surprised if line behavior differs. Germans tend to be orderly about forming lines, but Italians and possibly the Spanish advance through a roughly-defined line with good strategy and lots of elbows.

Get lists of all the emergency numbers for the areas that you’ll be in.
Always keep a pocketknife with you, even if it’s a little one.
Have some water and snacks handy.
Keep a small first-aid kit nearby. Bring a small roll of duct tape. Bring a couple good books.
Find a place that sells parachute cord and buy yourself some. With a breaking strength of 250kg, it’s pretty useful. Can be cut into pieces. Be sure to fuse the severed ends with a lighter.

Lightlyseared's avatar

If you do carry a pocket knife make sure it is a small one. In the UK any knife with a blade over 3 inches would get you into trouble with the police as will anything with a fixed blade (a Swiss Army knife is fine, a Leatherman with a locking blade is not). Some other EU countries have similar laws, so be careful.

Nullo's avatar

Don’t sneeze too hard in Germany. It is illegal there to put more than five joules of force behind a projectile.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Sew a Canadian Flag patch on your backpack. Canadian travellers are treated more kindly than are American ones. Tell them you are from Toronto, Canada’s largest American city.

Nullo's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence The guy’s from the UK.
Wear good walking shoes, or maybe even hiking boots, for the ankle support. There is no urban terrain more unforgiving than cobblestone.

Be sure to do some contingency planning. Poke around and see if there are any support networks that you could tap into while abroad, if you need them. I know that Calvary Chapel and the Salvation Army (both entities which can function as support networks) have a number of sites across Europe, and there are likely others.

mandybookworm's avatar

On. Safety: try to look like as much of a local as possible.
If someone asks if you speak english just stare at them, and don’t give out any personal information.

Nullo's avatar

@mandybookworm Not much hope for that, I’m afraid. He’s going to be hauling a great big ol’ backpack everywhere. Only the Mormons are more conspicuous.

Cartman's avatar

I just saw this which might answer D) & E) : The Clever Travel Companion .

But then again, you have probably already left. If so, then: how was it?

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