Planning a Solo Backpacking Trip to Europe


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Are you planning a solo backpacking trip to Europe? Here is a short, quick guide to help you plan your trip successfully. From setting a budget to creating a rough itinerary, researching your destinations to booking flights and transportation, and packing light and smart, we'll walk you through each step to make sure you have a smooth and enjoyable trip. So, let's get started!

Setting a budget and allocating resources wisely is key for first-time travelers planning a solo backpacking trip to Europe. It's crucial to consider all expenses, including accommodation, transportation, food, activities, and emergencies, and use tools such as budget planners and travel apps to stay on track.

Thinking about taking a solo trip or backpacking trip around Europe? It's an exciting and rewarding experience, but it also requires some planning and preparation. Here are some steps to help you get started.

Set your budget

Solo travel and backpacking in Europe can be affordable, but it's important to know your limits and allocate your resources wisely. Consider your expenses, such as accommodation, transportation, food, activities, and emergencies, and set a budget that works for you. You might want to use a budget planner or travel app to track your expenses and stay on track. You might also want to consider your income and savings, and any travel insurance or assistance you might need.

Setting a budget is the cornerstone of any successful trip, especially for first-time solo backpackers exploring Europe. A well-planned budget ensures you make the most of your adventure without breaking the bank. In this article, I'll walk you through the essential steps to craft a budget that works for you, while offering recommendations for products, services, and websites that can help streamline the process.

Assess Your Expenses

Before diving into the details of your European backpacking trip, take stock of your financial situation. Determine your income, savings, and any other funds you'll be using to finance your journey. Next, itemize your expenses by category, such as accommodation, transportation, food, activities, and emergencies. By doing so, you'll have a clear understanding of where your money will be spent.


Consider budget options like hostels, which can be found through websites like Hostelworld, or budget hotels available on Another option is Couchsurfing, which connects travelers with locals offering free accommodation. This not only saves money but also provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture. When selecting accommodations, research their proximity to transportation hubs and attractions, as this can save on transportation costs.


Research various transportation options, such as buses, trains, and budget airlines. For trains, check out Eurail for affordable passes that provide access to multiple countries. Budget airlines like Ryanair  and EasyJet offer low-cost flights within Europe. To find the best deals on flights, use platforms like Skyscanner or Google Flights. Consider investing in a European city transportation pass for unlimited access to local buses, trams, and metro systems, which can save money on individual fares.


Save on dining expenses by eating at local markets, supermarkets, or cooking your meals at your accommodation. Embrace street food, as it's often an inexpensive and authentic way to experience local flavors. 

Websites like Eating Europe offer tips on affordable local cuisine and food tours, allowing you to sample regional dishes without breaking the bank.  While apps like HappyCow can help you find budget-friendly eateries, particularly for those with dietary restrictions.


Prioritize must-see attractions and allocate your budget accordingly. Websites like GetYourGuide and Viator help you find affordable tours and experiences.

Take advantage of free or reduced-price admission days at museums and other attractions.

Many European cities offer free walking tours, which provide an excellent introduction to the destination's history and culture. Websites like FreeTour can help you locate these tours.


Set aside a portion of your budget for unexpected expenses, such as medical emergencies or lost belongings. Don't forget to factor in travel insurance, which can be compared on websites like World Nomads or InsureMyTrip. Travel insurance can cover costs related to medical treatment, trip cancellations, lost luggage, and more.

Consider carrying a prepaid travel card or a credit card with no foreign transaction fees for emergency situations. Companies like Revolut and TransferWise offer cards tailored for travelers, making it easier to manage money while abroad.

Utilize Budget Planning Tools

Once you have a clear picture of your expenses, use budget planning tools or travel apps to track and manage your spending. Apps like Trail Wallet and Trabee Pocket help you monitor expenses and provide a visual representation of your budget, making it easy to see where your money is going. These apps also allow you to set spending limits for different categories and notify you when you're nearing or exceeding those limits.

Additionally, websites like Mint or YNAB (You Need a Budget) offer comprehensive personal finance tools that can be tailored to your travel budgeting needs.

Set Realistic Expectations

Be realistic about your financial limitations and prioritize your experiences accordingly. You might have to make trade-offs to stay within your budget.

For example, you could opt for a longer bus ride over a faster train journey to save money for a once-in-a-lifetime activity, or choose free or low-cost activities to balance out more expensive experiences.

Research alternative attractions or activities that may be less costly but still provide unique experiences. Websites like Atlas Obscura showcase lesser-known attractions, often at a lower cost or even free of charge.

Continuously Monitor Your Spending

Track your spending throughout your trip to ensure you're staying on budget. Regularly review your expenses and make adjustments as needed. If you find yourself overspending in one category, consider cutting back in another area to maintain balance. For instance, if you splurge on a fancy meal one day, consider eating at more affordable places for the next few days to offset the cost. Stay vigilant with your spending by checking your app or finance tool at the end of each day and making notes of where you can make improvements.

Keeping a travel journal or using note-taking apps like Evernote or Google Keep can also help you track your expenses and document any spending insights for future reference.

Embrace Budget Travel

Finally, embrace the budget travel mindset. Solo backpacking in Europe doesn't have to be expensive, and traveling on a budget can lead to unique and memorable experiences. By following these steps and utilizing the recommended resources, you'll be well on your way to crafting the perfect budget for your solo European backpacking adventure.

By keeping your budget at the forefront of your planning, first-time travelers to Europe can embark on a life-changing journey without breaking the bank. With a well-crafted budget in place, you'll be free to explore Europe's diverse cultures, landscapes, and attractions with confidence, knowing you're making the most of your adventure.

Make a rough itinerary

Europe is a diverse and vibrant continent, with a wealth of destinations and attractions to choose from. When creating a rough itinerary, consider the following steps:

Identify Your Interests and Preferences

Consider what you're most passionate about, such as history, art, nature, food, or adventure. This will help you narrow down your choices and ensure a more personalized and enjoyable trip.

Research Destinations

Browse travel blogs, guidebooks, and websites like Lonely Planet or Rick Steves' Europe for inspiration. These resources provide valuable insights into popular destinations, hidden gems, and local experiences.

Create a Must-See List

Based on your research, make a list of must-see destinations, landmarks, and attractions that align with your interests and preferences.

Factor in Time and Budget Constraints

Determine how long you have for your trip and estimate the costs associated with each destination. Prioritize locations and experiences that fit within your time frame and budget.

Consider Season, Weather, and Accessibility

Keep in mind that some destinations may be more expensive or crowded during peak seasons. Research the best times to visit each location, taking into account factors like climate, cost, and accessibility.

Draft a Flexible Itinerary

Create a rough itinerary with a logical route that allows for flexibility. Include essential information such as accommodations, transportation, and must-see attractions. Websites like Rome2rio can help you plan your route and find the best transportation options between destinations.

Leave Room for Spontaneity

While it's important to have a rough plan, be open to changing your itinerary as you go. Embrace serendipitous encounters, new recommendations from locals or fellow travelers, and last-minute opportunities that arise during your journey.

Remember, your itinerary should serve as a guide rather than a rigid schedule. By having a flexible plan in place, you'll be better equipped to adapt to any changes or unexpected situations that may occur during your trip.

Research your destinations

Thoroughly researching your destinations is crucial for a successful solo travel or backpacking experience in Europe. Here are some tips to help you gather essential information about each location:

Delve into History and Culture

Familiarize yourself with the history, culture, and customs of each destination. Websites like Culture Trip and UNESCO World Heritage provide insightful articles and information on historical sites and cultural attractions.

Discover Landmarks and Attractions

Identify must-visit landmarks, museums, and attractions. Websites like TripAdvisor offer user-generated reviews and rankings to help you prioritize experiences.

Explore Local Events and Festivals

Research local events, festivals, and activities happening during your visit. Websites like Eventbrite and Time Out can help you find up-to-date information on events and experiences tailored to your interests.

Savor Local Cuisine

Learn about regional dishes and where to find authentic, affordable meals. Food-focused websites like Eater or local food blogs offer recommendations for dining experiences at various price points.

Understand Transportation Options

Research local transportation, such as buses, trains, trams, and bike-sharing systems. Websites like Google Maps and public transport apps like Citymapper can help you navigate the local transportation network.

Learn Basic Language Skills

Familiarize yourself with common phrases and greetings in the local language. Mobile apps like Duolingo or Memrise can help you learn essential phrases and improve your language skills.

Familiarize Yourself with Local Etiquette

Be aware of cultural norms and etiquette to ensure a respectful and enjoyable experience. Websites like Etiquette Scholar provide valuable information on country-specific manners and customs.

Stay Informed on Safety and Health Concerns

Research any safety or health concerns specific to your destinations. Government websites, such as the U.S. Department of State or the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, provide up-to-date travel advisories and safety information for many countries in Europe.

Plan for Emergencies

Identify local emergency services, hospitals, and embassies, and save their contact information.

By thoroughly researching your destinations, you'll gain a deeper understanding of the places you're visiting, enhancing your travel experience and ensuring a smoother, more enjoyable journey.

Book your flights and transportation

Efficiently organizing your flights and transportation is crucial for a smooth and enjoyable experience in Europe. Here are some tips for booking and managing your transportation:

Compare Flight Options

Use websites like Skyscanner or Google Flights to compare prices, schedules, and routes from various airlines. Sign up for price alerts and be flexible with your travel dates to find the best deals.

Consider Budget Airlines

Research budget airlines such as Ryanair or EasyJet for affordable flights within Europe. Keep in mind that additional fees may apply for checked baggage, seat selection, and other services.

Book Train and Bus Tickets

For land transportation, use websites like Eurail for train passes or Busbud  and Flixbus for affordable bus options. Booking in advance can save you money, especially for high-speed trains and popular routes.

Opt for Multi-City Flights

When flying between multiple destinations, consider booking multi-city flights or open-jaw tickets to save time and money.

Choose Convenient Airports and Stations

Consider the location, comfort, and accessibility of the airports and train/bus stations you'll use. Research airport transfer options and the proximity of stations to your accommodation to avoid additional transportation costs and save time.

Plan for Layovers and Delays

Allow ample time for layovers and potential delays. Use websites like FlightAware to monitor flight status and plan accordingly.

Research Local Transportation

Familiarize yourself with local transportation options, such as buses, trains, taxis, and subways. Apps like Citymapper and Moovit provide detailed transit information and directions in various cities.

Purchase Travel Passes

Investigate whether a city or regional travel pass, such as the Paris Visite pass or the London Oyster card, could save you money on local transportation.

Arrange Airport Transfers

Plan how you'll get to and from the airport at each destination. Research airport shuttle services, public transportation options, or shared ride services like Uber or Lyft.

By planning and booking your flights and transportation in advance, you'll save money, minimize stress, and ensure a smoother travel experience. Stay flexible and adaptable, and be prepared to make adjustments as necessary throughout your journey.

Pack your bags

Proper packing is essential for comfortably getting around Europe. Here are some tips to help you pack light, smart, and make the most of your luggage space:

Choose the Right Bag

Opt for a lightweight and durable backpack or carry-on that fits airline restrictions. Bags like Osprey Farpoint 40 or Tortuga Setout are popular choices among backpackers.

Pack Versatile Clothing

Bring clothes that can be layered, mixed, and matched. Choose items made from quick-drying materials and consider packing a lightweight waterproof jacket for unpredictable weather.

Limit Shoes

Limit yourself to two or three pairs of shoes: comfortable walking shoes, casual shoes for evenings, and flip-flops for showers or beach visits.

Utilize Packing Cubes

Use packing cubes or compression sacks to organize and save space in your bag. Brands like Eagle Creek and eBags offer a variety of sizes and styles.

Roll, Don't Fold

Rolling your clothes instead of folding them saves space and reduces wrinkles.

Pack Toiletries and First Aid

Bring travel-sized toiletries and a basic first aid kit, including any prescription medications. Store liquids in leak-proof containers or ziplock bags.

Bring Essential Electronics

Pack only essential electronics, such as a smartphone, charger, power bank, and a universal adapter. Consider a lightweight e-reader instead of physical books.

Keep Important Documents Safe

Make copies of your passport, visas, tickets, and insurance, and store them in a secure and accessible place. Consider using a money belt or a hidden pouch to keep your documents and money safe.

Manage Your Money

Bring a mix of cash, credit cards, and debit cards. Research currency exchange options and notify your bank of your travel plans to avoid potential issues with your cards.

Leave Space for Souvenirs

Reserve some space in your bag for souvenirs and gifts you may pick up during your trip. Alternatively, consider shipping larger or fragile items home.

Packing efficiently and focusing on essentials will make your solo travel or backpacking experience in Europe more enjoyable. By following these tips, you'll be well-prepared for your adventure while avoiding over-packing or under-packing.

Overall, solo travel and backpacking in Europe require some planning and preparation, but they also offer a lot of freedom and independence. By setting your budget, making a rough itinerary, and researching your destinations, you'll be able to have a smooth and enjoyable trip. With a little planning and a sense of adventure, you'll be able to make the most of your solo travel or backpacking experience in Europe.

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