Gallivanting around Europe is nothing new to young explorers. For those taking the leap to travel Europe for an extended period of time, there is one key element that will make or break their trip.
How will they see it all?
The options are pretty simple:
- Rent a car
- Buy a Eurail pass
Decades ago, renting a car was the cheapest option for travelers. This made the decision easy. Travel where you like, when you like, with no limits to where your wheels will take you.
Once the Eurail pass was developed, travelers moved to the new affordable option. It took the stress away from car accidents, traffic stress, and expensive tolls that can be found throughout Europe.
Today, many still use the other methods, but flying is becoming increasingly popular among travelers due to budget airlines like Ryanair. Flying from Paris to Rome for $30? Not too bad of a gig.
Hitchhiking was never that common, but heck, it’s a fun way to get around sometimes.
There are pros and cons to each major mode of transportation.
Three months in Europe comes with a lot of memories (and mishaps).
When beginning a journey of such magnitude, you know that along the way you will create stories both good and bad, and come back with a few “pinch me” moments.
Since returning home, many people want to know the “most memorable moments”. When they ask, I always have a hard time answering. It usually starts with an “uh”, then a pause, then a stutter, then a story. It’s not because I cannot think of one, but instead that within these few months, so much has happened.
In light of this, I have decided to write a post of small memories that we experienced along the journey. Ones that may never have an entire article dedicated to them, but are the moments that helped complete our crazy adventure.
When you leave to travel an entire continent for 90 days, you come home feeling as if everything has changed, even though it hasn’t.
That was me when I drove into my hometown on the evening of September 2nd, exactly 92 days after my boyfriend and I flew from Toronto to Lisbon to begin a journey that would take us from mountain tops to sea shores and glaciers to palm trees. With no plan and no idea where we would visit throughout the next months backpacking Europe, we took our first steps on a life-changing adventure.
The answer is we didn’t need that much. Here are the stats of what we spent traveling 25 countries (roughly 14,500km) in a span of 3 months.
3 months unlimited Eurail pass- $1,216/each
Direct flight from Toronto to Lisbon- $290/ each
Flight from Oslo to Toronto- $370/each
Average daily budget (including all accommodation, food, souvenirs, clothes)- $40/day ($20/each)
In the end, we went under our daily budget spending only $3129 of the $3600 we gave ourselves, averaging a daily spending of $35. Nothing was left out of the budget, and included everything from 30 cent coffees in Slovenia to an outrageous $167 day in Amsterdam (whoops). Below I’ve attached a picture of the tracker we used on our trip that recorded what we had spent at the end of each day.
The total for our 3 month trip to Europe came to $3,440.5 ($1,216 + $290 + $370 + $1,564.5) per person for everything.
And I peeked over the edge, only to realize that a thousand-foot cliff waited for me on the other side.
I was roughly 400 vertical feet from the summit of Mount Olympus, the tallest mountain in Greece and the heart of Greek mythology. I had yet to spot Zeus, but my eyes remained peeled and suspicious.
Currently in Warsaw, Poland downing a foreign alcoholic cider that cost a whopping .62 cents.
I hear you’re interested in traveling in Europe? Backpacking maybe?
So you’ve decided to travel through Europe and visit places on your bucket list. You’ve saved the money, booked your ticket, and are now waiting to embark on this life-changing journey. What do you do now?
#1: Buy a backpack
Whether you are technically ‘backpacking Europe” or not, using a backpack as your suitcase will be the biggest benefit to your travels. Why? Because it’s easy to transport and surprisingly enough (even in todays modern world) a majority of Europe’s train stations don’t have escalators. This means wherever you go, you’ll be dragging your belongings up and down multiple flights of stairs.
A backpack also keeps what you bring and what you buy to a minimal amount. Are the heels worth it? Can you really afford to buy a replica statue of the Eiffel Tower to fit in your bag?
#2: Decide your mode of transport
There are three major ways to travel around Europe.
- Renting a car
- Purchasing a Eurorail Pass
- Flying from point to point
Each mode has it’s benefits and weaknesses. Renting a car is usually the most expensive option, yet allows the most freedom on the places you wish to visit. A Eurorail pass is a happy medium, where you have hundreds of destinations to choose from, however accessibility is still limited. Flying from point-to-point is beneficial if you book in advance and choose to stop at a few locations.
When I said goodbye to the United States on June 1st with nothing but a backpack, a passport, and a boyfriend, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. We had nothing planned, no idea what we wanted to see, or what the next three months would bring.
Fast forward to today, where I have a solid month of frolicking, hiking, and sweating across 8 countries now under my belt. The time has flown by, and slowly passed at the same time.
First, I’ve realized I’ve finally become accustomed to backpacking (and Europe)
It took a few weeks, but I am no longer taking pictures of every building in every city. I have become used to being spoiled by fresh bakeries and tiny cups of espresso. Mountains, seas, lakes, and train stations are my new norm. I’ve adjusted to living without a home and have learned how to repack my backpack at least a hundred times.
Trips to supermarkets are done in routine: chips, bread, granola bars, chocolate, meat, cheese, and ice cream to eat immediately. We set up camp each night, and take down our home each morning to spend our days ending up in who-knows-where looking for the next settlement.
It’s annoying, amazing, stressful, spontaneous, and spiritual all at the same time. And I wouldn’t trade it for all the money in the world.
Arriving in Europe on June 2nd with no plans, no itinerary, and a limited budget was probably one of the scarier things I’ve done while traveling. I’ll admit that although I’m not a planner (or a good one at that), I was more than intimidated arriving on an entirely new continent with a backpack and a train ticket hoping for the best.
Initially, our biggest issue were our Eurail passes (I’ll save that for another post), but through the stress we managed to venture from our starting point of Lisbon, Portugal, to a small town named Salir Do Porto along the Atlantic, and then finally ending up in Vigo, Spain after a 14 hour day riding trains and rerouting thanks to our inability to speak Portuguese.