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Backpacking on a budget

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Armed with a Euroline's 30-day pass this summer I had the freedom of Europe and did a backpacking tour of twelve different cities. Here are some tips for any backpacking adventures you may undertake in the future.

Packing lightly is crucial. Considering you may end up having to carry your rucksack for miles to get from your arrival point to your hostel, the worst thing you could possibly do is stuff every item of clothing you own in there. Pack carefully, ensuring that you only have the necessities, and you will have a drastically more enjoyable journey. Obviously it depends how long your trip is and where you are going, but I would aim to keep the weight of your bag below 10kg - anything over that and you’re going to be struggling.

You must time your arrival in each city carefully. Preferably avoid arriving at your destination late at night as making travel connections to your hostel can be difficult. Similarly, try not to arrive early morning as you will find a lack of places open. Another important factor to consider is the day on which you will be arriving. On weekends (especially Sundays) public transport is bound to run at different hours, and you may be inconvenienced by opening hours of shops etc.

Keeping your belongings safe isn’t hard when you know how. As long as you are sensible whilst carrying valuables around with you, you should be able to avoid theft. A money belt (different to a bum bag, as it goes under your clothes) is not a bad idea as your money and passport is never out of reach. Whilst on public transport keep your backpack within sight at all times, and never leave it unattended on a luggage rack. Hostels should be equipped with a locked luggage room where you can leave your bag for the day if you are too early for the check in time. Likewise, most hostel rooms will have lockers where you can leave your backpack, so there should be no concern that your belongings may be taken whilst you are out.

Cooking in hostels can save you ridiculous amounts of money. Before you book a hostel check if it has a kitchen which you can use. By buying ingredients from a nearby supermarket and splitting the cost and ingredients between a group, meals can be cooked for amazingly cheap prices. Although cooking for yourself is obviously more effort than eating out, surely it’s worth it for the money that is saved? In Europe, I found that I was paying between €3 and €4 for an evening meal, compared to the €10 or more that most restaurants were charging.

Make the most of the experience. Although by the end of your trip you will most likely be exhausted and beyond sick of living out of a rucksack, you have to remember that as a student this may be one of the only chances you get to explore. So rather than lazing around in your hostel for half the day, with time slowly wasting away, get out there and see what your choice of destination has to offer.

To buy your Eurolines pass online or to find out which cities a Eurolines pass allows you to travel to, go to http://www.eurolines.com/en/eurolines-pass/

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