Question by Jeremy Walker (not my real name): Advice for backpacking through Europe?
I am going backing in a few months but i am still not sure where i should go so i have a few questions.
1. Where in Europe should i go?
2. What should i be aware of?
3. What are the do’s and dont’s for Europe?
Thank you for your time
Answer by Willeke
Where you would have to go?
You should go to what interests you most, think about what Europe means to you, what you think about first when you think of Europe. Is it a country, like where your ancestors came from, if they did come from Europe that is, or a city like Paris, London, Rome, Munich, or a bit of nature ‘only’ to be seen in Europe?
Write those down on a list, take a map and look up where they are relative to each other.
If you already have your tickets look up your arrival and departure towns too. If you do not yet have a ticket, look for tickets that are for sale now and look for those arrival and departure airports that allow you to travel with relative cheap tickets which are near where you want to be anyhow.
Remember that a 12 hour train ride to get to a cheaper airport likely costs more than the extra on a ticket to the airport you really want to go.
If you really have no idea where to go, you could have a look at one of those ‘highlights of Europe’ tours, although in my opinion most of those plan too much in and do not allow time to adjust and enjoy.
What you should be aware of is that Europe is big, you can not see it all in one travel, you can not see all of it in your lifetime even when you do nothing but traveling around.
So select a small part of Europe, or several small parts, and explore those. The rest of Europe will be there when you are coming next time.
Do’s: see different parts of Europe, different language areas, different size cities, towns and villages, do spend some time in a nature reserve or on a beach rather than just traveling from city to city.
Meet people and enjoy the local food.
Do learn ‘hello, good morning, thank you and goodbye’ in the local language, specially when you stay in one language area most or all of your travels.
Don’t: Get totally drunk and forget to watch for your own safety.
Don’t try to put too much in your travel, you will enjoy it better if you can travel the speed that feels natural to you, if you try to see a new city each day you will only remember the insides of trains and stations.
Don’t go with an attitude of ‘At home everything is better’, resulting in just eating hamburgers from fast food chains.
Don’t assume everybody speaks English, and even when people do, give them a minute to adjust. Start by asking whether they understand English and may you ask them a question, or start with some simple ‘yes or no’ questions, like ‘Is this the road to the station?’ rather than ‘where is the station?’
Don’t feel that you have to go to all famous sights and museums. Do not go to the Louvre in Paris unless you are a lover of art, do not go to Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam unless you have read the diary, do not watch the changing of the guard if your really rather sit in a pub with a glass of beer, but do read up on the most famous things for a town so you know what is available before you decide that it is not the right thing for you.
And do read the older questions and answers here, there is about a library full of them on Yahoo Answers alone, and there is also a real library full of useful books. Go out and see some, borrow or buy them if you like what you see. I prefer the Lonely Planet series like Europe on a shoestring, but Let’s go is popular with a reason too. And if you want more info before you set out, Europe through the back door by Rick Steves has good information although he plans too much into too short a time in my opinion.
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