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Tips on backpacking in Europe

  1. Backbone friendly backpack Don’t overload your backpack. You’ll be backpacking not going on a luxury tour. It’s normally wise to pack only about 70-80% full, you can get new t-shirts (which also serve as souvenirs) along the way. Or else, you may break your back on your trip.
  2. Say cheese!! There will be occasions when you and all your travel mates want a group photo. If you don’t have a tripod, look out for fellow tourists who are holding higher end cameras, preferably a SLR/dSLR. Chances are they are good photographers and your group photos will turn out nice. (I must apologize to the professional photographers who will be bugged as a consequence of this blog entry.)
  3. The letter ‘I’. Look out for the booths with the letter ‘I’. Information kiosks are everywhere in Europe. Find one as soon as you reach a city/town. You’ll be amazed by how much stuff they provide.
  4. Plan ahead. If you’re travelling by train, check the train schedule to plan ahead for the next day the moment you reach your destination. If they don’t provide you with a handy schedule booklet, get your camera and snap a photo of the schedule at the bulletin board!
  5. Who said you need to pay for everything? With the Euro, even a pee could cost as much as your lunch back home. You do not necessarily have to pay to go toilet, use the facilities in museums, restaurants and even on trains. You can get free maps and guides from tourist booths/centres (though not all the time). Trailing closely behind a tour group can also get you free information, hehe!
  6. Europe is full of drinking fountains. Fill up your canteen/bottle when you run dry! Bottled drinking water can be more expensive than beer at times unless you want to…
  7. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. It’s true that girls don’t read maps and guys don’t ask for directions (it’s true for us anyway…). So, work together as a team and compliment each other’s weaknesses.

[This post appears at Snowflakes too.]

3 comment(s) to this post

I realy liked the last 7th part. It’s true i confirm that one more time. I see you had a realy nice trip..

#1Tadas  ::  7 September 2007, 17:39  ::  #

drinking fountain are abundance in some countries, Italiy especially, but not all. One should always fillup whenever he/she can when travelling during summer. The heat wave can hit you unknowingly and u might be forced to cool urself down for days in the hotel. Not something you wana do as a backpacker.

Oh yea, lot’s of things are free. So always ask, even for guys! Ask if its more worthwhile buying a day ticket than a one-time ticket. But do compare, sometimes a one-time ticket can b more worthy. And please go to ‘I’! Information lor….

Oh yea, and if you are the kind that dont mind sleeping anywhere, some beaches are fine for sleeping as long as you have a proper sleeping bags, other beaches are dodgy, so do check out in advance.

You probably can’t bargain in hotspots like barcelona or rome, but venture further and you should exercise your Malaysian(or anywhere) bargaining skills when dealing with accomodation. You tend to save some euros, and some euros means alot of ringgit.

Dietary must includes fruits, fruits, fruits! Always have some, and milk/drinks. Sometimes when I m in dire need of nutrition, and in dire lack of $$$. I buy a huge french loaf and get fresh milk to help swallow the brick. Finally some fruits to clear the throat.

Yes, men are from mars, sometimes they are from venus too! If you are traveling in pairs, divide responsibilities. One can read the map today, while the other can do the asking. This way, the person that is in-charged that day can do the planing, and the other can just wonder like a puppy and just snap snap snap ur camera. I find this helpful as backpacking trip can be energy-sapping. At times, u just dont have the semangat to be reading maps and exploring uncharted territories all the time, so take turns.

Also, if you are the adventourous type(I bet you are, since u are reading a backpacker’s blog) always go to the less well-known spots. Say if you are going to Barcelona, stop by at Taragona, an hours train-ride. If you are heading to Marseille, then don’t forget Chamburry. These are hidden gems! And you get away from the hustle-bustle of tourist and take away the veil of the big cities! I always felt that these places give me the fondest memory of a trip.

OK, practical tips. Always get a eurorail when you are traveling by rail. Eurorail is entitled for ppl that stayed for six months or more in Europe. But u can forget that and just buy it, u save much more compare to The-other-rail that non-europeans have to buy. The trick is to get it sent to ur friends address in Europe. Oh yea, one very important thing. With Eurorail sometimes u wonder why it is still so expensive…. Some counters dont bother to explain, but u need to inssist u r eurorail. And then if its still awefully expensive, then station hop. Say if its expensive to go from Milan > Rome, then go from Milan>XX-> YY-> Rome. Enquire if there is such a combination and compare it if its cheaper, Eurorail have the tendency to make the combo trips much cheaper. OH yea, u can keep on asking until the counter lady fumes…Afterall, u just see her that one time in ur life ;-)

Also, if you are really adventurous(for gals, i advice you to be at least in pairs), arrange with some backpacking sites where backpackers meet and get free accomodation. I’ve had several and some of them are really nice and you really feel that you are going thru a day as a fill in the country!

Oh yea, John, i’ve never met you, but I am also from MMU, melaka one ;-) Cheer!

#2zibin  ::  21 November 2007, 19:02  ::  #

hi john, see that you have great time there..great tips as well..i am planning for backpacking in october and celebrate my 32nd bday in europe for a change!..hehe…would like to ask on a few things ya…any visa required to go to any of the euope countries (specifically italy, rome, france…and perhaps ireland, scotland as well)? what abt currency? i would assume, we can bring USD or pound sterling and change it to whatever currency might have..how much did you spend for your total trip (and how long?)..i was also checking the their local trip where they covered like 6-8 countries in 12-16 days…i am quite worried that if we spent too much time looking for direction, we wont have time to really enjoy the scenery etc…i am only planning for a 10d trip…

#3lynn  ::  31 July 2008, 12:17  ::  #

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