Backpacking Europe Step-by-Step Planning Guide

An easy guide to budget travel in Europe.

City Guides

We created this step-by-step guide to prove that planning your own budget travels doesn’t have to be daunting —whether you’re backpacking Europe or just an independent traveler.

This guide is broken down into different phases of the planning process — Initial Trip Planning, Packing Guides for clothes and gear, Finding Accommodation, Choosing Transportation, Travel Gear Reviews, and other helpful travel tips.

Under each phase, you will find links to individual articles — we suggest reading through each one. If you follow these steps you’ll be prepared to have an amazing trip to Europe.

Note: You can find even more information in the top menu.

PHASE ONE: Initial Trip Planning

backpacking Europe how to guide

These are the first steps to take when planning your trip to backpack Europe. Here you’ll start planning what cities and countries to visit, create a travel itinerary, estimate your travel costs, book your flight, and a range of other things.

You’ll probably spend a large amount of time on this phase  — especially the itinerary planning.

Itinerary Planning and Travel Logistics 

How to create an itinerary that fits your travel style, travel goals, and budget.

We’ve also put together some sample itineraries:

Choosing The Best Travel Insurance 

What to look for when choosing your travel insurance. Read Article >>

The Savvy Backpacker’s City Travel Guides

Discover practical travel info about the most popular cities in Europe — including Paris, London, Amsterdam, BarcelonaRome, and many more.

Finding Cheap Airfare to Europe

Your plane ticket to Europe is one of your greatest expenses. This guide has strategies to help you find the best price possible. Read Article >>

The Best Travel Guide Books and Online Resources

From Lonely Planet and Rick Steves to WikiTravel and TripAdvisor, there is a wealth of information to help you choose what to do and see. We review our favorite resources. Read Article >>

Choosing When to Travel

The summer might be the busiest travel season, but Europe is a great place to visit year-round. We’ve listed the pros and cons of each season. Read Article >>

General Pre-Departure Travel Advice

A collection of general travel tips that are easy to overlook but will make your trip much more successful. Read Article >>

Frequently Asked Travel Questions

We answer the most common travel questions that we receive. Read Article >>

PHASE TWO: Budgeting And Money

Europe travel costs budgeting

Estimating Your Travel Costs

How much does it cost to travel through Europe? Look no further! We break down the average cost of food, alcohol, accommodation, sightseeing, transportation, and other common expenses. Read Article >>

City Price Guides

Daily price guides for more than 30 cities in Europe. Each city guide includes average prices for food, accommodation, sightseeing, and more. Read Article >>

Using Money in Europe

Everything you need to know about exchange rates, using ATMs, using debit/credit cards, avoiding/minimizing foreign transactions fees, and more. Read Article >>

Daily Money-Saving Strategies 

Simple things you can do to save money while traveling. Read Article >>


backpacking Europe packing

Packing for travel in Europe can be confusing and frustrating — especially if you’re backpacking across Europe or just trying to pack light. These guides will help you choose what clothes and travel accessories to pack and has advice on packing light.

Backpacking Packing List for Men and Backpacking Packing List for Women

Our packing list for women and men are our most popular articles. We discuss functional and fashionable clothes for traveling Europe, helpful travel accessories, toiletries, electronics, and what items you should leave behind.

We also have a more general packing list for Europe that’s perfect for any travel style and a winter packing list.

How to Choose The Perfect Backpack for Traveling

We discuss the different types of backpacks available, what features you should pay attention to when picking a bag, and how to find a bag that properly fits your body. Read Article >>

The Best Travel Backpacks

Our favorite travel backpacks on the market. Read Article >>

How to Properly Pack Your Backpack and Suitcase

Tips for living out of a backpack (or suitcase) while traveling. Read Article >>

Choosing Between a Backpack or Wheeled Luggage

Do you need a backpack to travel Europe? Of course not. Here are tips for determining your luggage style. Read Article >>

Guide to Ultralight Travel

Hardcore travelers know the importance to traveling light — and now you can, too. Read Article >>

Winter Travel Packing Tips

Traveling during the winter is great but you need to know how to dress properly. We discuss how to dress in layers so you can stay warm without wearing a lot of bulky clothes. Also, see our winter packing listRead Article >>

PHASE FOUR: Finding Accommodation

backpacking Europe hotels and hostels

After transportation, accommodation will probably be your biggest expense. In this section, we primarily focus on hostels, rental apartments, and Couchsurfing.

Guide to Hostels

You’re probably going to stay in a hostel while traveling in Europe. This extensive guide will tell you what to look for when booking a hostel to ensure you find the perfect place. Read Article >>

Guide to Couchsurfing in Europe

Low on cash? No problem! Couchsurfing is a great way find free accommodation and meet locals. Read Article >>

Guide to Short-Term Vacation Apartment Rentals

Renting a vacation apartment is a great alternative to staying in a hostel or hotel — and it can often be very affordable. It is our preferred accommodation method when we travel because it gives us the chance to truly live like a local. Read Article >>

PHASE FIVE: Transportation Options

backpacking Europe travel

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles!

Europe has a great transportation network which makes zipping around the continent easy. The hardest part is choosing which method is right for your travel style and budget. We outline the pros and cons of each system and help you get the best deals.

Complete Guide to Train Travel in Europe

If you plan on taking the train I suggest reading this guide as it will help you learn the ins and outs of European rail travel. Read Article >>

How To Purchase Train Tickets

The best ways to buy train tickets and tips for getting the best price. Read Article >>

Rail Pass Guide

Many travelers choose to purchase a rail pass for exploring Europe. With so many different passes available it can be tough to decide which, if any, rail pass is worth the price. This guide will help you navigate the choices. Read Article >>

Air Travel in Europe

Europe is home to multiple budget airlines so air travel is often very reasonably priced. This guide will cover how to find the cheapest tickets and help you decide if air travel is right for your trip. Read Article >>

Ryanair Survival Guide

Ryanair is the king of cheap airfare in Europe. But this small price comes with a lot of stipulations so you need to know all the details to get the best deal. This Ryanair survival guide will help ensure you get the best deal possible. Read Article >>

Traveling Europe by Car

Exploring Europe by car is a great way to discover smaller towns and villages, but it is a nightmare if you plan on only visiting large cities. This guide will go over what to look for when renting a car. Read Article >>

What is the Cheapest Way to Travel Around Europe?

We take a look at a sample European travel itinerary and compare the cost of traveling by car, train, and plane. Read Article >>

Guide to Bus/Coach Travel in Europe

One of the cheapest methods of travel is via the bus, so this can be a good choice for cash-strapped travelers. Read Article >>

PHASE SIX: General Travel and Budgeting Advice

backpacking Europe tips

This section features general travel tips for everything from spotting tourist scams and fashion advice to solo travel pointers and group travel tips.

Tips for Using Data Plans and Smartphones in Europe

How to use your data plan overseas without spending a fortune and tips for finding cheap data plans abroad. Read Article >>

Avoiding Pickpockets

Tips for outsmarting those pesky pickpockets. Read Article >>

Avoiding Tourist Scams in Europe

Europe may be beautiful but there is an ugly side too. Don’t get fooled by these common scams. Read Article >>

Tips for Traveling Solo in Europe

Traveling alone doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, it is one of our favorite ways to travel. This guide will help you embrace traveling solo. Read Article >>

Advice for Traveling Europe with Friends

Traveling with friends or loved ones can be great, but the stress of travel often puts a big strain on relationships and friendships. This guide will help ensure that you stay friends after the trip. Read Article >>

Female Fashion Tips and Male Fashion Advice for Not Looking Like a Tourist.

Follow these fashion tips if you want to avoid looking like a tourist. We’ve created a separate guide for men and women.

Guide to Fashionable Travel Clothing

We’ve found high-tech travel clothing that actually looks damn fashionable. Read Article >>

Using Electronics Abroad

Most electronic gadgets will work fine abroad, but not all. Read this guide to make sure all of your expensive gadgets stay safe. Read Article >>

Day-To-Day Sightseeing Strategies

A few simple tips to follow as you plan your day-to-day sightseeing. Read Article >>

Simple Money-Saving Tips While Traveling in Europe

There are a lot of small things you can do while traveling to save a little money — and all those savings do add up. Read Article >>

More Tips to Make Your Trip Go More Smoothly

This is a collection of random tips and tricks that we and our readers have come up with over years of traveling. Read Article >>

PHASE SEVEN: Travel Gear and Travel Service Reviews

backpacking through Europe help

There are many amazing travel products that will make traveling more enjoyable and stress-free — but the choices can be overwhelming. We’ve reviewed everything from our favorite socks and underwear to backpacks and cameras. We’ve also reviewed many popular tours and travel booking sites. Apartment Rental Review

Want to live like a local? Try Airbnb. See why Airbnb is my top choice for finding great places to stay. Read Article >>

Best Backpacks for Traveling Europe

The backpack you choose will greatly affect how you travel. We share our favorite backpacks and bags for multiple travel styles. Read Article >>

Best Travel Shoes for Men and Women

Picking the perfect travel shoes is important since you’ll spend nearly all of your trip on your feet. Also, the best Waterproof Boots for Men and Waterproof Boots for Women.

Best Travel Underwear

Most people overlook packing suitable underwear, but this guide will show you the importance of choosing the right underwear. Read Article >>

Best Travel Socks

If your feet are happy, then you’re happy and that is why choosing the right socks will make all the difference. Read Article >>

Choosing The Right Laptop For Travel

Do you want to blog, edit photos, or simply stay connected with the world while you travel? Well, you’ll need a laptop or tablet. We tell you about what to look for and show you our top picks. Read Article >>

Choosing A Digital Camera For Travel

Not only do we recommend our favorite cameras for capturing those amazing memories, but we also help you pick out the perfect camera for your travel style. Read Article >>

Contiki Tour Review

Contiki tours are a very popular travel option that thousands of people take each year. Learn about the good and bad of Contiki tours to see if it is a good option for you. Read Article >> Review

See why Hostelworld is my top choice for finding and booking hostels in Europe. Read Article >>


Backpacking through Europe How To

The Savvy Backpacker Travel Blog

Follow us as we blog about the places we visit. Read Article >>

City  Guides

Discover practical information about the most popular cities in Europe. Read Article >>

Our Favorite Online Travel Resources

The websites we use to book and plan our travels. Read Article >>

Start Your Own Successful Travel Blog (And How To Make Money)

The 100% free guide to making your own travel blog that also earns money to help fund your travels. Read Article >>


Back to Top