A backpacking trip to Europe isn't as simple as snapping a picture in front of the Buckingham Palace, stuffing your face with croquetas in Madrid, and tossing a coin in the Fontana de Trevi. Whether you've never been to Europe or you're practically its ambassador, planning a multi-city Eurotrip can be a very overwhelming and stressful endeavor. Last summer, my friends and I went on our own Eurotrip and learned so many things along the way about budgeting, prioritizing, and being flexible. Whether the concept of planning a Eurotrip overwhelms you or completely excites you, these are a few tips that are sure to help you in the process! 

1. Budgeting and Research

There are four things to remember when you're planning your Eurotrip: be realistic, be smart, be flexible, and be adventurous. 

Be realistic: While it would be amazing to visit every single city in Europe, that's not a pragmatic goal time and money-wise. Before you start planning, set a realistic budget that includes airfare and trains, public transportation, housing, and daily money spent on attractions (ie: museums),food, and going out. This is the hardest step but it makes choosing the length of your Eurotrip and the cities you visit much easier. 

Be smart: Make sure you're allocating enough time (at least 2 full days) to each city so that you can see a reasonable amount of attractions and have time to explore. Try to balance cities filled with landmarks, like Rome and Amsterdam, with less-overwhelming cities, like Prague and Interlaken, to make your Eurotrip more enjoyable. Additionally, when planning the route of your trip try to choose cities that are near each other rather than constantly hopping all over Europe and spending excess time and money on transportation. 

Be flexible: Unless you're travelling alone, you'll probably have to make some sacrifices. You're going to want to always stay with your group so try to pick cities and activities that everyone is happy with. 

Be adventurous: Don't be boring and plan a Eurotrip where you only go to Paris, London, Madrid and Rome. Although those are beautiful cities, there's so many more less-touristy cities to travel to. I recommend visiting countries in Eastern Europe such as Austria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic that can sometimes be overlooked! 

Beatriz Gras

2. Paperwork

Before you embark on your journey, make sure you have all of your documents in order well in advance. Make sure your passport and State ID aren't expired, your medical insurance is set, you have a valid student ID (a lot of museums give you student discounts or even free admission!), and some extra cash (euros, Swiss francs, Czech korunas, etc). Call your banks ahead of time to let them know that you'll be abroad so that they don't lock your credit card when you start to use it. Additionally, you can register with the US embassies in each of the cities you'll be visiting for the amount of time you'll be there for emergency contact and safety purposes!

Beatriz Gras

3. Housing and Connections

There are many options for housing depending on your budget and the type of experience you're looking for. If you'd prefer to spend less on housing or want to meet more people, youth hostels may be your best choice. Hostels are social hubs that are filled with backpackers from all over the world and typically have a bar or restaurant on the bottom floor where people can hang out. Since they are cheap accommodations they typically consist of communal bathrooms and shared rooms with bunk beds. Another option that we preferred was renting Airbnb's because with a kitchen you can save money on food by buying groceries, they usually have laundry machines, they're are still affordable when you split them between large groups, and you can find cool apartments of all styles. 

No one knows the ins and outs of a city better than its residents. If you have friends and/or family in any of the locations you'll be visiting, call them up for some tips on restaurants, activities, and neighborhoods they think are worth while. This is also useful for emergency contacts and they may even let you stay with them! One of the best days we had in Amsterdam was when my friend Paula reached out to one of her family friends who owned a boat and took us on a ride on the canal.

Beatriz Gras

4. Transportation

The great thing about Europe that makes it so attractive for a backpacking trip is that the countries are at such close proximity from one another. This makes it great to find cheap, easy ways to travel from one to the other. Personally, I think Eurorail trains are the best way to go because you don't have to worry about all the time you spend on checking bags and going through security at airports. It's a great way to see beautiful landscapes through your window, play cards with your friends, or take a nice, long nap. Buy your tickets ahead of time and you're sure to find cheap seats!

Beatriz Gras

5. Day-by-day Planning

An important thing to remember is that you can always come back to Europe in the future; you should keep this in mind when while planning. Look into the museums, restaurants, and clubs that you want to go to in advance and split them evenly within the days you'll be in the city. Some museums or monuments are very busy and may require reservations well in advance. Make a flexible schedule by picking around two activities/landmarks that you want to see per day and leave time to explore the areas and neighborhoods around them. This will make your trip a lot more enjoyable and less stressful. My favorite day in Prague was when we rented pedalos in the morning, saw the Lennon Wall, and then spent the rest of the day exploring the "Lesser Quarter" part of the city where we stumbled upon a cute Gingerbread shop by the Franz Kafka museum.

Beatriz Gras

6. Leave time to explore

European cities have so many quirks and details that I think are made to be found accidentally. Leave time in your days to just walk or bike around and explore. You may find something that peaks your interest like a live street performance, a tucked-away cafe, or a work of art like these windows that spelled out Praha!

Beatriz Gras

7. Packing 

Keep this in mind: whatever you pack, you'll carry on your back. Looking back on my Eurotrip there are so many clothing items that I packed that I did not even look at. 

You're going to mostly want comfortable clothing like light sweaters, t-shirts, leggings, and casual dresses. Bring two or three nicer outfits for clubbing and dinners. Also, just because it's summer doesn't mean it can't get cold! Especially if you're travelling to Eastern Europe you'll want to bring a light jacket for when it gets chilly at night. Shoes-wise you'll need shoes that you're comfortable walking around in a lot. Don't even think about bringing heels because you will not want to suffer in those after a long day of walking, instead bring a pair or two of flats or sandals. 

As for backpacks, it's completely up to what you're comfortable with carrying and the length of your trip. Backpacks are much better than rolling suitcases especially when you're walking on cobble-stoned streets. I used the Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Pack because it was the perfect size for me, has a removal backpack that I used for day trips, and had a flap that I could zip up in the back to keep my shoulder straps tucked away so that they wouldn't catch onto anything while stowed away on trains and planes. I still use it sometimes when I'm travelling between home and college!

Beatriz Gras

8. Get excited

Planning a backpacking trip through Europe with your friends can have stressful moments but it's important to remember all the exciting memories that you are soon to share. My friends and I made sure to take lots of Polaroid pictures that we all hung on our dorm walls and lots of videos that we look back on. 

Beatriz Gras

Below is a little video of my 2017 Summer with all of the places we went to on our trip. Good luck planning and happy travels!