I have always been someone who was interested in traveling. When I was younger just going to the airport made me excited because it meant that I was probably going to a new place that I could explore and learn about. I grew up watching "The Amazing Race" and watching the Travel Channel, thinking “one day I’m going to do that." I have even picked a career path that will hopefully involve a lot of travel in the future.
Recently, I was talking to one of my good friends and she told me that she read my article about Abby Clayden and her experience traveling and staying in hostels. She told me that was something she had always wanted to do, and as we talked more about it that sparked our plan: we’re going to backpack through Europe together. While it has been romanticized in TV shows and movies, we are both practical thinkers and immediately thought “well how are we going to pay for that?”
I started to look into it, and it is actually possible for broke college students to afford it. Below I have listed some of the best money-saving tips that I found!
Stay In Hostels
While the idea of staying in a hostel may freak out the germaphobes out there, and your mom probably isn’t too into the idea, they are cheap. You will probably end up sharing a room with a few strangers, but hey maybe you will end up making some new friends! Also if you are really living out the experience to its fullest, you shouldn’t be spending much time in your room at all.
Use Public Transportation
Most European cities have good public transportation systems, and it is much more cost effective than paying for taxis or car services. London, Paris, Amsterdam, Prague and Barcelona all have pretty reliable and cheap public transit options.
Buy A Eurail Pass
Eurail passes are a great investment! Depending on which pass you get, you can travel between 28 countries for just the cost of the train pass. For example, you can get the Global Pass for one month of continuous travel for $1,075, and hop on and off whenever you want in any of the 28 countries. My mom used a Eurail pass when she visited Spain after high school and said it was a great investment! Check out the website for all of the different ticket packages: http://www.eurail.com.
Only Pack The Essentials
Think about your usual packing habits for a trip. How many bags are you bringing? One? Two? Three? One just for shoes? Well, backpacking is a whole different ballgame. You will be carrying everything that you will have, so you can really only pack the essentials.
A very handy website for backpacking, The Savvy Backpacker, has several excellent packing lists. They even have packing lists tailored just for women. Let's be real ladies, we usually pack way too many clothes and tend to pack for “any occasion." They suggest packing basics and items of clothing that can be mixed and matched so you can maximize your outfit options.
You can find the helpful packing lists here.
Don't Plan Every Single Detail
If you’re someone who is willing to take only the belongings that you can strap to your back to travel through Europe, it’s likely that you have a great sense of adventure. Run with that! Budget the important things, such as the initial plane ticket, and investing in a Eurail pass, but leave the rest up to your whim. If you are in Paris and decide you want to head to Amsterdam, do it. Make the most of your time and stretch your money as far as possible.
Safe travels, my friends!