25 Things I Have Learned Traveling While Backpacking in Europe

Hey guys, In lieu of my popular post on the “100 Things I Have Learned about Photography,” I originally planned on writing a “100 things I have learned about traveling in Europe” post as well. However this time around, I decided to embellish more on each of the points that I presented. Therefore, I realized that I would cut my list short to “25 things I have learned while traveling in Europe.” Furthermore, I also have had a few friends asking me for pointers or tips for backpacking in Europe. So hopefully in the near future, I will be able to write (to the best of my knowledge) a comprehensive guide for students trying to backpack in Europe (on a limited budget). So until then, please read my post and feel free to share this list with anybody you want via Facebook, Twitter, Email, or IM. Also please leave me a comment below as I always love hearing feedback! :)

25 Things I Have Learned while Traveling in Europe

  1. Pack lightly. There is no worse feeling than lugging around a bag of bricks on your back when you are trying to enjoy yourself.

    Patiently Waiting. Paris, 2009

    Patiently Waiting. Paris, 2009

  2. Be frugal, but enjoy yourself. You don’t want to blow away $20 every meal that you are eating when on the road, but at the same time you want to enjoy the local cuisine.

    Skating. Paris, 2009

    Skating. Paris, 2009

  3. Use the local language. Although you may be worried about butchering the language and that locals will criticize you, the opposite Is more true. People appreciate the fact that foreigners try to embrace their culture and highly appreciate it (regardless of how terrible your accent may be).

    Italian Resturant Owner. Rome, 2009

    Italian Resturant Owner. Rome, 2009

  4. Plan, but not too much. When you are traveling, it is nice to have a peace of mind knowing that you will have a place to spend that night. However on the other hand, spontaneity is the most exciting while traveling. When you arrive at your destination, simply get a map and ask the locals for the top sights. Leave the rest to fate.

    Cinque Terre, 2009

    Cinque Terre, 2009

  5. Don’t be afraid. This is what prevents most people from traveling in the first place. There are a million “what if’s” that cross a person’s mind before deciding to travel. “What if I run out of money?” “What if I get mugged?” “What if I don’t enjoy traveling?” All of these concerns may be legitimate to a certain degree, but most of the terrible stuff you hear happening to travelers are over-blown by the media anyways. Most people die without even leaving their country. Do you want to regret that when you are on your dying bed? Embrace your courage and explore!

    Rome, 2009

    Rome, 2009

  6. Make friends. I recall that while traveling, my fondest memories were not so much shaped by the sights I saw or things that I experienced, but rather the people that I met during my journey. Take the time to know fellow travelers or native locals. It is surprising how much I grew while learning about our differences and our similarities.

    Thirst. Venice, 2009

    Thirst. Venice, 2009

  7. It is better to spend more time in fewer places, than see more places in less time. Traveling is incredibly exhausting. When you are on the road, there will be a few moments that you will be able to sit down and rest. So when traveling, it is best to save your energy and allow yourself to let your surroundings soak in, rather than going for the goal of seeing as many places as you can. Doing this will cause you to get burnt out, which will cause traveling to be more of a chore than something you can enjoy.

    Cinque Terre, 2009

    Cinque Terre, 2009

  8. Get enough rest. If you do not get enough rest while traveling, you will be miserable. It is much better to get a late start on the day and enjoy the fewer things that you may see, rather than getting up extremely early when you barely have enough energy.

    Sunbathing. Prague, 2009

    Sunbathing. Prague, 2009

  9. Eat up. When you are traveling, you will be a calorie-burning machine. Don’t be shy to fill your stomach while traveling and worrying about stuff like carbs, sugar, fat, etc. Even if you eat a ridiculous amount of food while traveling, you will most likely end up losing more weight than before you started your trip.

    Canard. Paris, 2009

    Canard. Paris, 2009

  10. Invest in a good backpack. True the nicer backpacks may run you over a hundred dollars, but they are truly worth it. I highly recommend North Face backpacks (I used the North Face Recon Backpack), as they are extremely comfortable and are built super-tough. Furthermore, they are rain-resistant and their zippers won’t break, even if you fill it to the brim. While traveling I used the North Face Recon, which had more than enough space and zippers for everything I needed during my trip. If you just travel with a more generic backpack like a Jansport, your back will hate you.
  11. The North Face Recon Backpack. What I brought with me during my trip.

    The North Face Recon Backpack. What I brought with me during my trip. Highly recommended.

  12. Take photos, but limit yourself when necessary. If you are a first-time traveler (as was I), you will probably go photo-happy from all of the unique things that you will see during your trip. Although it is great to capture many memories while traveling, it is also important to truly enjoy your trip, rather than trying to document every second of it. I learned this one from my girlfriend Cindy, and it was probably the best travel advice that she ever gave me (even though being a photographer I am naturally inclined to take thousands of photos at a time). Some things are better enjoyed without your camera.

    Paris, 2009

    Paris, 2009

  13. Go alone. People often say that this is the best way to travel. Not only do you have time to get to know yourself better, but you will also be forced to meet other people. Being abroad and having that sense of anonymity is surreal, and it is definitely an experience that everybody should have. I probably had the deepest moments of self-introspection during the few weeks that I traveled alone.

    Image in' Air. Paris, 2009

    Image in’ Air. Paris, 2009

  14. Go with a friend. Although this contradicts the point previous, it is also great to go traveling with a friend (or two). You will be able to create memories together that only you two share, and you can always reminisce after the trip is over. Furthermore, it is also economically sound to pool your resources together when it comes to getting a room together, eating food, or getting other miscellaneous discounts when sightseeing. Also inextricably, you will grow so incredibly close to that person so quickly, and build a life-lasting bond with one another through your experiences.

    The Entrance. Paris, 2009

    The Entrance. Paris, 2009

  15. Keep a journal. This is one of the things that I am glad that I was very religious about while traveling. My girlfriend Cindy told me that it was a great practice to do, and so I did. Although during the trip it was sometimes a chore and difficult to do on the grounds that I was always so tired, being able to open that journal and reminisce on past memories was so precious. Also, there is no better way to unwind from a long day than journaling your thoughts, feelings, and things that you did during the day.

    Journal Every Day

    Journal Every Day

  16. You don’t need to be rich to travel. Although I was a broke college student, I refused to allow my economic situation to prevent me from traveling and seeing the world.  To finance my 30-day trip to Europe, I took out a $4,000 student loan from UCLA and bought my plane tickets, hostel-lodging, as well as my travel expenses. Granted that $4,000 isn’t chump change, in my opinion it was a very small cost to fulfill one of my dreams in life, which was to go backpacking through Europe. There are so many people who make excuses from fulfilling their life dreams due to fiscal reasons. However I am a true believer in that if you want something badly enough, you will make it happen.

    Row. Florence, 2009

    Row. Florence, 2009

  17. Museums are physically and mentally draining. Now I am not trying to discourage any of you from visiting museums when abroad in Europe. Europe houses some of the most distinguished museums from around the world which are home to some of the greatest artists from history. However be warned, museum visits take a LOT of your time and energy. Trying to see more than a museum a day is extremely ambitious (it is difficult to even see all the exhibits in one museum in a day). Just a tip.

    Spiral. The Vatican, Rome

    Spiral. The Vatican, Rome

  18. Flying via Ryanair is one of the best ways to travel through Europe. If you book flights early enough, you could seriously go on flights from Paris to Rome for $3.00 (including tax and misc. costs). How the hell do they do this? Well first of all, these seats are special promotion deals and the times that they offer are very limited (super early in the morning, or super-late at night). Furthermore, if you are limited in terms of what you can bring (only one carry-on baggage, and it costs extra to bring luggage as well). Furthermore, they bombard you with advertising before, during, and after your flight. However if you are smart, you could seriously have your transportation within Europe for nearly nothing! Check out Ryanair.com for their deals!

    Ryanair- the best value for traveling within Europe

    Ryanair- the best value for traveling within Europe

  19. Do your laundry by hand. You can easily do this while traveling by using a bungee cord and a bar of soap. To do all my laundry when I was in Europe, I simply washed my clothes in the hostel sinks with soap, and hanged it on some impromptu clotheslines which were made out of a bungee cord with hooks on each side. It would usually take 2 days for my clothes to dry fully, which would allow me to always wear clean clothing while traveling  even though I only had around 5 pairs of shirts, socks, and boxers with me. This will save you the hassle of wasting all your money on laundry money and also packing fewer clothes while traveling, which equals less weight on your back.

    Buy one of these.

    Buy one of these.

  20. Take the path off the beaten road. Sure the traditional landmarks of Europe may be nice and all, but the most beautiful things that I experienced were not the touristy places, but rather those hidden gems that you fall upon in a moment of serendipity. So do not always feel obliged to see what is popular, but just let your curiosity lead you down mysterious alleys, over gracious bridges, and through unexplored tunnels. Relive the child in yourself.

    Cinque Terre, 2009

    Cinque Terre, 2009

  21. Feel free to skip what is uninteresting to you. Don’t feel obliged to do things that seem uninteresting to you. For example, if you enter a famous landmark and it simply doesn’t compel you in any certain way, there is nobody forcing you to be there. You can just speed through the place and just leave. What is one man’s treasure may not necessarily be your cup of tea.

    The Dancing House. Prague, Czech Republic.

    The Dancing House. Prague, Czech Republic.

  22. Smile. Whether you are talking to the manager of your hostel or to a random vendor on the street, smile as often as you can. Smiling at others instantly makes yourself seem much more welcoming to the other person, which can stir up an interesting conversation or interaction.  You will be surprised that how far a smile to a random stranger in the streets can go.

    The Faces. Paris, 2009

    The Faces. Paris, 2009

  23. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Let’s face it, when you traveling you are going to be lost more than once. Rather than being worried of being stigmatized as a “lost tourist,” put away your pride and ask for help. It is amazing how willing people that people can be when helping others. For example, when I was lost in Venice (the most impossible city to get around without getting lost), I asked a man who was speaking Italian to his friend if he knew where X was. He then quickly stopped his conversation, and walked me for nearly 10 minutes to my destination. There was another time when I couldn’t find my bus to take me to the airport, and a complete stranger walked around with me for nearly an hour, talking to other locals to help me find my bus. People are more kind and generous than one realizes.

    Mime at St. Pancras. London, 2009

    Mime at St. Pancras. London, 2009

  24. Don’t be tied to your computer. When I traveled, I bought an Acer Aspire One Netbook to write quick emails, do research, as well upload images to my hard drive while traveling. However I made it a point to stay off my computer as much as I could during my trip. There is nothing easier than getting sucked into using the internet for hours on end, wasting precious time that you have overseas. Rather than unwinding after a long day of traveling by using the computer, use that potential time to journal (do it in a notebook), get to know fellow travelers, or simply reflect on the day. When you are traveling, disconnecting from the internet can be one of the best ways to “detox” from being wired.

    The Louvre. Paris, 2009

    The Louvre. Paris, 2009

  25. The world is a big place. Although I have done a fair share of traveling while growing up (moving around many times in California, moving to New York for 3 years, driving back across to California in a car, going to Canada, and Korea) I now realized that I barely saw anything at all. Once I went to Europe and experienced a totally different culture, it shocked me to realize how small my home (and country) was to the rest of the world. Although Los Angeles is one of the biggest cities in the world, it is nothing but a speck when compared to the rest of the world.

    Paris, 2009

    Via the Eiffel Tower. Paris, 2009

  26. Home is where the heart is. After my 30-day journey of backpacking in Europe, it caused me to appreciate my home so much more. Although I did visit some of the best museums of the world, relished at the antiquity of the cathedrals, and dined on some of the most exotic foods, I came to the realization that all of these things that I experienced while I was abroad was readily available at home as well. I do not say this to discourage anybody from traveling. On the contrary, this is one of the biggest reasons why I advocate people to travel is because when they come back home with a fresh new pair of eyes, they appreciate home so much more. After coming home, make sure to tell all of your friends and family about your wonderful experiences while traveling, and don’t forget to embrace them and also tell them how much you love and appreciate them as well.

    The London Eye. London, 2009

    The London Eye. London, 2009

Click below to see more… My Europe Photos Slideshow

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  • Kayla Askew

    Dear Eric,

    Wow! I really like your style. I didn’t even read your essay “My Europe Slideshow” the first time through – I just looked at the photos. This might sound silly, but I want to jump right into them, pack a bag, clean out my bank account, and travel the world. Do you have any prints for sale?

    Sincerely Impressed,

    K. Askew

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      Hello Kayla,

      Great to hear that you enjoyed the images! I do highly recommend traveling the world–and jumping right in is often the best way ;)

      Anyways, all of my prints on my blog and site (http://erickimphotography.com) are available for sale. If there are any specific images you are interested in, please shoot me an email at erickimphotography@gmail.com.

      Hope to hear from you soon,

  • http://www.suehwang.com Sue

    Man, fantastic post (and photos, of course)! Reading through your tips, backpacking in Europe seems less daunting now. Never heard of Ryanair before, nice to know what it is now! No travelling this year? :) Looking forward to seeing more of your “around the world” (and local) photos featured here!

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      Hopefully I plan on doing more traveling within LA! And glad to hear you like the tips– you should def go backpacking Sue! It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience

  • Georgie Mathew

    Hi Erik,
    Thanks for the inspiring tips.
    Just wanted to share a similar Vatican museum photo I had taken.

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      Your version looks great as well Georgie! Thanks for sharing :)

  • michelle

    Amazing photography…

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      Thank you for the kind response Michelle! :)

  • Rachael

    I just found your blog…when i was trying to research backpacks that were “ryanair” friendly. I do have a Recon Northface too (33 liter) too, but it seemed a bit small to backpack for 2 weeks. I’m gonna be living in Scotland, so i will be using Ryanair A LOT and didn’t want to buy one of those tall rucksacks. How did yours hold up for 30 days? Got any tips on how to pack for that particular bag? Thank you!

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      Hey Rachael,

      I would say that my Recon Northface held up quite well. Packing light is always the best way to travel.

      Some tips to fit in a lot of stuff:

      1. Roll up your shirts/clothes and tie them up with rubber bands. This helps a lot with packing more clothes in
      2. Limit yourself. Bring only the BARE essentials. You can buy the rest while traveling.
      3. When packing toiletries, put them all into tiny little bottles.
      4. PACK LIGHT. I don’t think I can emphasize this enough.

      If you have any more Q’s, feel free to email me at ericjohnkim@gmail.com! :)

  • http://www.photographymojo.com Anna Patrick

    This advises are good even for the European travellers discovering their own continent. Packing lightly, using low-cost companies, discovering hidden streets off the beaten road, not being sticked to the computer and more important, enjoying your trip more than striking photos all day long – these are amazing tips we should all consider no matter where we travel. When you’re relaxed, your eyes are wide opened for the things around, and that’s when the best street photos are born.

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  • http://www.nasubijutsu.com Nick

    Eric! Great tips and photos!

    Takes me back to my interrailing experience around Europe I did when I was young. I wish I’d been into photography then!

    Well, I’m back in England now, and with RyanAir readily available I’ve got no excuse!

    Good stuff!

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  • Kate

    Hi…I’m a university student..and currently is in planning to backpack through Western Europe 30days during Sept/Oct.. Mind to contact each other so that I can have some more real advices on itinery and also budgeting? Thanks alot first..

    kate.lsjing@gmail.com/ Skype: jingiisme

    Ya..Do impressed by ur 25 guides. =)

  • Nic

    Great blog, thanks for the help! I’m leaving for Europe in November and I’m going alone. I don’t have the money for a nice nice camera. But do you have any you’d suggest under $200 that will be able to capture high quality pictures?

  • Naneyamuni

    What countries did you visit?

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  • Murphy Quinn

    Hey Eric! Okay so I know this is quite some time later but I am heading to europe for 30 days this coming summer with my friend and was wondering if you had any specific recommendations (what hostels to stay in, places we can not miss, ect.) I was born in Amsterdam but moved to the US when I was 4, and I have only been back when I was younger to visit so I dont know to much about whats up over there right now haha. If you want to shoot me an email that would be MUCH appreciated or if anyone else has any recommendations for hostels? thanks

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  • European city breaks

    These are some great tips Eric. I think most of us are afraid of the unknown when we consider going backpacking for the first time, but your points here show us that it can be fun and unique to each of us too.
    I have been planning some European city breaks for next year but I also like your idea of getting off the beaten track. I guess that a mixture of big, famous cities and some cute villages might be an ideal mix. It certainly is an exciting thing to do and I hope that I come back with a new (improved) vision of the world

  • Lauren (PB&G)

    I stumbled across your blog while searching for street photographers. I’m edging in to photography after purchasing my first DSLR for our Europe trip earlier this year. We’re supposed to go back next year and these tips (among some of your others) will be extremely helpful! Love the blog!!

  • Alice

    stumbled upon your blog while planning out my euro trip. awesome post & interesting to note that you ‘re also a 1. korean american ( by your last name) and a 2. ucla graduate. anyway, thanks for the advice & beautiful photos. BTW, what camera did you take with you?

  • Michael Houston

    This is absolutely brilliant. I’m only 17 but I want to (within the next 3 years) go backpacking with a friend or two and probably want to go Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Oslo, Berlin, Prague, somewhere in the Alps, Bruges, Vienna, Helsinki, Copenhagen and my favourite place I went to as a child: Gothenburg. I would plan on heading back to the outskirts of London to visit half of my family before heading back to Scotland to tell the rest of my family of my experiences.

  • Dev

    Hey great blog. I travelled through Europe for mmy student exchange. I put together this small video with my experiences. Would be great if you could share it with fellow travellers.


  • http://www.facebook.com/lonepanther27 Fernando Tróchez

    Great tips indeed! I can’t wait to backpack Europe…Out of curiosity, has anyone have any experience with couchsurfing and wwoofing?? I can imagine that can also help to make your trip more enjoyable and much less expensive. Also, is it possible to work for your room? Let’s say for example, you really enjoyed staying at a hostel and want to keep staying there, can you work in exchange for free room?

    • Taylor

      I just studied abroad in the Czech Republic. I made a couchsurfing account and used it while I was in Vienna. It was a really great experience. However for girls you should be more careful. I tried to do it in Italy but the guys were sketchy and wanted more from you if you decided to stay with them. But if researched and read the reviews its a great experience! Also I am really interested in wwoof and plan to do it when I go back someday.

  • http://lifenotes.yolasite.com/

    Great post ! Seems that you really had great travels

  • Marcos

    Did that a big camera with you? I am going this year to Europe and am wondering with it would be a good idea to take a big cam.

    • Marcos

      Did you take a big camera with you?

      • Marcos

        Great blog, by the way :)

  • Claire

    Great article thank you. I am really hoping to travel Europe next year, I am starting to think it is possible to do on my own!

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  • http://twitter.com/flinderella Sinéad

    Hi, that’s not a mime… It’s John Betjeman!

  • Eilusion

    Very good read as im backpacking europe in August, made me realise quite a few things, thank you.

  • Amalthea

    loved this, im backpacking in Europe in July.

    • jenn

      i am too!!!

      • Amanda

        Me too!!

  • Krishna Marathe

    Hi! I think this is the best “advice” I have come across so far! I am going backpacking through Europe too this September. After a lot of thought(unnecessary thought) I booked my tickets and now I cannot wait to start. I am going alone too and I am totally looking forward to it!
    Thank you for this post!

  • Chase

    Currently backpacking and having trouble getting my friend on board with engaging with the locals. So well said and I feel the exact way about everything! Well done!

  • ayelet

    Hey, im going backpacking through europe for the next two months and i was wondering if you could give me some advice on hostles and budgeting. Thank you!

  • Katia

    This really helps my wanderlust craving. Great tips! I’ll be sure to follow them in a few years—gonna start saving now!

  • http://www.aquashieldroofingcorp.com Kari Worbington

    This was helpful for me and it really gave me allot to think about. Thanks for this!

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  • http://www.aquashieldroofingcorp.com Ronny Bochenek

    This was helpful for me and it really gave me allot to think about. Thanks for this!

  • Luke

    Inspiring blog. Thank you!

  • Joe

    im backpacking europe from next week see y’all around!

  • RD

    Very informative and helpful tips. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  • CrSp

    Great post! I believe almost everyone trekking Europe regardless of where they come from can relate to this… I would like to add one thing; there is nothing more comforting than having someone with spare free time, like an university student like myself, to show you around specific places (such as entire cities and towns) if you´re mostly interested in getting to know urban areas in bits and pieces. In my experience, I have either met foreigners on social media by accident, or have asked for tour guidance on Couchsurfing.. It saves a lot of time, and sometimes makes a huge difference of how you might experience what you are visiting…

  • Rikki

    Awesome write up. Very inspiring. I leave for Europe on a solo mission in September – visiting Amsterdam, London, Munich and Prague – but I’m sure the journey will change along the way. Like you said, you don’t want to be tired down to a schedule. Thanks again for Inspiring.

  • Patricia

    Thank you for the great advices! It really help me! I’m thinking to do a long trip in europe next summer for about 7-8 months (4-5 working and 3 backpacking) and your blog give me some good infotmation to plan my trip. So thanks a lot!

  • Kayla

    Loved reading your blog and your photos are amazing! I’ll be spending 5 weeks in Europe at the end of this month, if only I can take some photos half as good as yours!

  • Cindy

    I’m so glad that I found this. I’m even more grateful you took the time to write this. I’m just barely planning my backpacking trip and this definitely is going to be very helpful!!

  • Black_x_Star

    Great advice. Thanks!

  • soffi

    It inspired me so much to read this, you have no idea how! I’m from Brazil and I lived in England for 3 years and 5 months in Italy, and travelling to these beautiful countries and learning their language and culture encouraged me so much to see the rest of Europe and maybe all the continents of the world if possible. When I finally turn 18 I plan on going back to England and starting uni in London, and as soon as I can, going backpacking across Europe and then Africa.
    I figured life’s too short to stay in one place only, the world is just too beautiful to miss out!!

  • Jen

    Awesome blog – finally biting the bullet and heading to London in November and this is very helpful :-)

    • Taite

      Hello I just finished travelling through London and all I’ve go to say is dont be scared to not go to where all the tourists go. Try something different, London is a big city and the the amount of people really get to you

  • Taite

    I’m In Europe right now and I think I am using to much Internet so thanks for the tips and I will ge off this iPad right now

  • Andy1967

    Great advice for all kinds of travel, not just backpacking through Europe.

    One thing I was wondering is how difficult you found it to deal with differences in power plugs and sockets from country to country? Even if you don’t use a notebook much you’ll still have to charge camera and phone (at least). Did you bring a whole set, or did you buy them locally? If the latter, how difficult did you find it to find the right equipment?

  • gladys

    thank you very much for this blog. every time people ask me and i tell them i travel or would be travelling alone, they look at me with a sad face. i try to convey that it’s such a great experience and even go as far as listing the pros .. then i realize why do i bother? they’re not listening
    it feels isolating but reading blogs like these and being out there forging friendships with other travellers erases all of that. thank you!

  • sam

    awesome blog. I’ve wanted to travel to Europe for a couple of years now and only just realising its now or never. your site is the first one I’ve come across and there is some great information that I would have never thought of doing (I over pack lol). Thank you.

  • Jay Smith

    this is awesome, I did the same thing last year.

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  • Lolliette

    WOW, I’m greatly appreciated for your insightful article!!! |Thanks a lot and I’m hoping to make it next summer~

  • May Meitriyana

    Great post. I’m glad I’m stumble upon it just 7 hours before my departure to London, starting my one month adventure in Europe. And I cannnn’t wait to have my own journey like you. =)
    Thanks for sharing. And btw, great photos!!!

  • vita

    best blog i ever read………

  • Wei

    Thank you for the very interesting read, really enjoyed your post :)

  • Carlos Gallardo

    did u really backpack trough europe using a 29 liter daypack? i was wondering if i needed to buy a 60 lt backpack hahahaaha i see it’s not necessary

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  • Karen

    This blog is amazingly helpful! Just when I thought of my next question, the answer popped up. I have been to Europe before, (Madrid, London, and Paris) but it was a tour group. I got to see the most important landmarks, for like 5 minutes each! It was well organized, yet I felt so unsatisfied. This summer I plan to take 3 weeks to backpack through at least 4 countries, I have a $4500 budget and even though this has helped me a lot, I need help with where to stay at. Do you recommend hostels? or rentals like airbnb.com ?

  • ernest

    great blog. do you have a list of places you went?

  • Prachi Shah

    Thanks a lot for such beautiful tips, I was really scarred, but now it seems i should go for it :)

  • Christy Sagalyn

    Great advice…what your opinion of Eurail pass?

  • Emily

    Great post! I loved reading about your experiences. I lived in Spain for a year and traveled as much as possible. Those Ryanair flights are unbelievably cheap- you just have to pack lightly and ignore the bombardment of advertisement. You’re right about locals being generous and kind- I was pleasantly surprised at how helpful people were, regardless of any language barriers.

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  • Barbara

    Hello, I will be studying abroad in London during Spring 2015. When my semester is over I want to backpack through Europe. How much money do you think I will need for a 30 or maybe 30+ days of backpacking? How many countries were you able to visit in 30 days?
    This is very helpful and I love the journal idea!
    one concern: your luggage was only that north face backpack?! You wouldn’t recommend the bigger camping/hiking ones? Thanks!!!

  • nitengale23

    I had one free day in Florence and started the day with The Bargello, Galleria dell’Accademia, ended with The Uffizi Gallery because i wanted to spend most of my time there… by the lower level of the Uffizi (i started from the top) it was like….well if it’s not a Botticelli is it even worth my eyeball? Lol ridiculous. but absolutely breath taking.

  • Navneh Waraich

    thanku so much for writing this …I am from India and planning a Europe trip in April /may next year …..Your bolg is immensely helpful ….how can i get in touch with you if its not a much of a hassel . I would really appreciate it . and great pictures too

  • savvybackpacker

    Lots of good tips. thanks

  • Nicole

    Love this article, thanks for the advice :)

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  • Michael

    Hey, great post. For a european guy it is very interesting to read it from another point of view! Have you been to Germany, too? Did you have a favorite place in Europe?
    Kind regards,

  • jenn

    thank you so much!

  • jenn

    i’m planning to backpack through Europe this summer! thank you for the backpack advice!!

  • r3zuri

    I would actually discourage female travellers from smiling (too much). We think we’re being nice/friendly, whereas men (foreign or otherwise) think we’re flirting.

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  • Tayla

    Fantastic blog post!! I have always wanted to travel over to Europe, but been very unsure about things like how much money to save,

  • Mark

    Good post. Though with ref to http://erickimphotography.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/mime-at-st-pancras.jpg, this is not a mime. It is a statue of Sir John Betjeman.
    Mark Hill
    PS: You may perhaps find some things of interest on my own Europe travel blog http://www.runninglateeurope.blogspot.com

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  • TG

    TY for this blog!! My 19 y/o daught is backpacking thru Europe for 2 wks in Aug. Need recommendations of sleeping quarters, access to money, taxi’s a good idea? She’s visiting 3 countries & needs to stay in $3,000 budget. Plz help. I’m worried sick! ANY further advice…snacks/h20 in bckpck? Keys to safety? Clothing recommendations-amount, best material to wear, how many pants, shorts, shirts, etc…or recommendations on who to talk to here in states that has an inside clue. Local travel agent not schooled in bckpcking abroad. TY for any help!!

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    Hi, lovely post!
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  • Tengku Etty

    Great, Eric ! I just cameback from my trips to Great Britain with my husband. Our experince is almost the same with yours. Met people with different cultures, different English accent..it becomes a wonderful experience for us. Yes very true, begining with “a smile” , so the communication getting easy and most of local people are friendly and helpful. Thanks Eric for your writing :)

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  • Gabrielle

    Thanks for the tips! I’m leaving for a 2-month backpacking trip to Ireland in less than a month. I have a quick question though. When you were travelling and going out to pubs and such, what did you do with your backpack?

    • Ygritte Snow

      most hostels have lockers to rent… buy your own combination lock just in case they don’t have locks/to save money on renting a lock.

  • jong

    locals are very helpful and willing to help. I’ve been there twice and spent @ least a month each. It was a great experience. It is something to remember and a topic to talk with your friends you travel with. Since I got married and have a family then I started to travel in Asia and my wife and kids enjoyed it.

  • Ygritte Snow

    https://www.hihostels.com/ <– a great resource for finding/booking safe, relatively comfortable hostels. you'll meet the coolest people too. A lot of people live in hostels long term!

  • Sharon

    Thanks so much for this blog, Eric. It’s really helpful. I’m traveling to Austria and Czech with a few friends in 2 months. Any travel advices? Also, I really love the photos you posted along with this blog. Would it be advisable to bring a DSLR, or is a smartphone sufficient? I have Samsung Galaxy S5. Thanks!

  • Jackie

    Thank you for the advice!

  • http://www.travelzblog.wordpress.com Julie Fournier

    Great article! Very nice list of what you got out of backpacking in Europe.
    I am myself European (French) and I like the easy travel that Europe offers, you can basically go anywhere by train or car, and find quite cheap places to stay like hostels. Its very easy to meet people and have an awesome time!
    I haven’t had the chance to really backpack yet, but I have been to different places either to work or to visit. I like traveling alone, as it pushes me to meet new people and I think that’s amazing!

    Anyway, great blog! Thanks for the tips :)

  • Richard Snolly

    Free walking tours are the best example of this. They allow you to meet new people and to learn more about the city. They’re a good way to learn the history of the city or just to walk around the most popular attractions if you have limited time there.


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  • Ivy Kriste

    Superb photos…

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    Your tips is definitely significant.. at time of backpacking .Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

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  • Christian from Squeeze Pod

    Thanks for the tip! I’ll definitely keep Tip #20 in mind if I need more adventure. :)

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  • Kc

    Thanks! So you found the recon to be enough? I feel it’s a bit small. Thoughts?