Have you been considering taking some time to backpack around Europe?
The planning you put into your trip is what will truly make the difference.
Below, we offer some considerations on;
- Backpacking through Europe cost
- potential backpacking Europe itinerary
- & some backpacking through Europe routes that you might like to choose from.
Of course, the biggest challenge when it comes to planning a trip to Europe is deciding on what to see.
Because Europe is so big, and because virtually every town offers something worth seeing, many people choose to go the backpacking route so as to make the most of their time and take full advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity to explore all the Europe has to offer.
Backpacking Europe Route
We´ll start by offering a possible six week route through most of Europe that, if planned for correctly, can be done on a budget of less than $2,000 dollars.
Trip: Dublin to Istanbul by Train (and flight back to Dublin)
Places You Will See: Dublin, London, Paris, Lausanne, Zermatt, Munich, Salzburg, Vienna, Budapest, Sighisoara, Brasov, Bucharest, Veliko Tarnovo, Istanbul
Things You will Enjoy
Eiffel Tower, Luxembourg Gardens, Lake Geneva, Swiss Alps, Neuschwanstein Castle, Dachau concentration camp, Buda Castle, thermal baths in Budapest, The Black Church, the Palace of Parliament, Church of the Nativity, Alexander Nevski church, the Grand Bazaar, Hagia Sophia.
Benefits of this Route: Starting at Dublin will allow you to find super cheap round trip airfare from the U.S. While this trip does allow you to explore the top spots in the U.K. and France, the majority of your time will be in Eastern Europe where you´ll be able to save a good amount of money. The addition of Turkey (not a top backpacking destination) will allow you to add a touch of uniqueness to your journey.
Backpacking through Europe Cost
Making (and sticking to) a budget is one of the most important things to do when planning a trip to Europe. Obviously, the actual backpacking through Europe cost will depend on a number of different factors, mostly related to how you want to travel.
If you plan on travelling first class from New York to Paris and want to tour through the continent on nice trains while staying at five star hotels, you can expect a pretty hefty tab for a trip of that sort.
However, you can backpack throughout Europe for surprisingly little money. What follows is a quick breakdown of some of the most essential expenses you can expect and a few details on how to substantially lower those costs.
Getting to Europe is obviously the first and most important consideration, and if you don´t plan ahead of time, you´ll most likely end up spending a large portion of your budget just getting to the Old Continent.
Last minute tickets can cost you upwards of $2,000 dollars while tickets on the major airlines will most likely cost somewhere around $1,000 dollars round trip. For the truly budget conscious, check out some of the lower cost European airlines like the Icelandic airline WOW or Norwegian airlines.
You routinely find roundtrip tickets from Chicago or New York to several mainland European destinations for as little as $400 dollars.
If you have flexible travel dates, you can even find $99 dollar specials from WOW airlines for one-way flights.
If you live on the West coast or other areas of North America where Norwegian Airlines or WOW Airlines don´t fly out of, consider purchasing a cheap domestic ticket on Spirit Air or some other budget airline to get to the major hubs to Europe.
Once you get to Europe, your next major cost will be in lodging. Imagine landing in London or Paris or Stockholm at 9 PM without a reservation. Eager to find a hotel for the night, you end up making your way to a hotel near the airport and spend upwards of 100 Euros a night. A couple of nights at that price will significantly increase your budget or perhaps leave you looking for a bench in an empty park to spend the night.
To cut down on your total cost of lodging, we offer three different suggestions: youth hostels, Couch surfing, and Workaway.
There are literally hundreds of youth hostels scattered throughout Europe all designed to tailor to the needs of backpackers. One of the nice things about hostels is that they usually offer several different pricing options.
Most hostels offer a bunk house option for around 10 Euros a night while a private room might run you anywhere from 25 to 40 Euros. If you don´t mind sharing an open bunk space with other travelers, hostels can be pretty cheap.
Furthermore, most hostels have some sort of shared kitchen area where you can prepare food for yourself or at least save a couple Euros by making your own morning coffee instead of heading out to the local café.
Couch surfing is a worldwide platform that connects backpacker and other travelers with hosts around the world who are willing to offer their couch for free in exchange for an opportunity to get to know people from other cultures around the world.
The main benefit to couch surfing is that you get free lodging. The downside is that it can be hard to find a host (especially in major tourist destinations) and you never know what type of bed (or couch) you´ll have for the night.
Lastly, Workaway is another great opportunity to lodge for free while also gaining a unique insight into the places you´re visiting.
For $30 dollars you can create a profile on the Workaway website and search thousands of hosts around the world. The deal with Workaway is that you agree to work five hours a day for five days a week in exchange for lodging and food.
While you will have to dedicate some time to work, there are dozens of different Workaway hosts, including organic farms, individual households, and even youth hostels looking for some help in the kitchen.
Another big expense that can drastically increase the backpacking through Europe cost is what you eat. If you only plan to eat at restaurants, you can plan to spend anywhere from 50 to 75 Euros per day which adds up quickly.
To reduce your food costs, one option is to sign up with a Workaway contract where you will be offered food in exchange for your work. Another great strategy to cut down on your food costs is to only stay at hostels that have a shared kitchen area. You can easily cook your own breakfasts and dinners and only eat out for lunch (or bring along a sandwich for a midday deal).
If you´re off the beaten path in rural areas, another option is to pack along a small propane backpacking stove. Whether you´re exploring the rural areas of the Swiss Alps or hiking along the Road to Santiago in Spain, a small camping stove will allow you to save a decent amount of money by preparing some of your own meals.
Backpacking Europe Itinerary
The backpacking Europe itinerary that you settle on will depend on two main factors. Firstly, you will need to decide how long you plan to be in Europe.
There is a huge difference in what you can feasibly see between a 6 week and an 18 week itinerary. Secondly, your itinerary will depend on where you plan to start from and whether you will be leaving from the same place you arrived. While making a circle to end up at the same place you began from might seem like a good idea, it can be hard to do.
Fortunately, there are several cheap European airlines (such as Ryan Air) that will allow you to fly back to your starting point for usually less than 100 Euros. This convenience will allow you to save on your airfare (multi-destination airline tickets are always more expensive) and will also you more flexibility on where you plan to travel.
Though every Europe itinerary will be different depending on the specifics of your travel, we offer three quick tips related to itineraries that will help you save money while not skipping on any of the essentials worth seeing.
- Consider starting in the North. You can find considerably cheaper round trip flights from North America into Ireland, the U.K. or the Scandinavian countries.
- After exploring northern Europe for a couple days or weeks, head straight to Eastern Europe via Amsterdam and Berlin. Eastern Europe is considerably cheaper than Western Europe so going there first will allow you to gain some experience in how to backpack on a budget. There are good train services to Prague (a great starting destination for Eastern Europe) from both Amsterdam and Berlin. You can also search for cheap flights if you want to get there in a hurry.
- Save your money for the end of your trip. After hitting most of Eastern Europe, you will want to have a little of your money saved up for Italy, France, and Spain. These countries are usually a little bit pricier for everything from lodging to food, and you´ll enjoy having some extra funds to see all you can see.
Best of Luck