My 6-step guide to planning a trip in 2023

The Eiffel Tower in Paris

Last updated. 25.5.23 |: May 25, 2023

Backpacking Europe is still one of my favorite things to do as a traveler. There isn’t a year that I don’t cross the continent (except 2020 when no one crosses Europe).

During the summer, the hostels explode with life, the Mediterranean glistens, the streets fill with people slowly sipping wine and enjoying the day, and the late evening sunsets lead to long wonderful days. Winter brings Christmas markets, skiing, fewer crowds and lower prices. And spring and fall bring just the right combination of people, temperatures, and prices that make these two seasons my favorite times to travel to Europe.

Since starting this site in 2008, I have written a lot About records in Europe. I visit Europe several times a year, have been all over the continent, lived there several times and even toured there.

With so much content on the blog, I wanted to create a resource page to help you easily plan your backpacking trip to Europe. That way you won’t miss anything. In this post, you’ll find all of my best resources for planning a backpacking or budget trip to Europe, including destination guides, transportation tips, accommodation information, ways to meet people, and much more.

So, without further ado, here’s everything you could ever want to know about backpacking Europe.

Step 1: Plan your trip to Europe

Man planning a trip to Europe with a map
How to avoid feeling overwhelmed when planning – Planning the perfect trip to Europe can be intimidating and overwhelming. I’ve been there and I understand, but I can tell you from years of experience that the more you plan your trip, the more anxiety you’ll face.

How to save for your trip? Is money stopping you from taking the trip of your dreams? Here are 22 easy ways to cut back on your everyday expenses so you can save money on backpacking Europe.

How to find a cheap flight – Getting to Europe can be half the challenge. Luckily, there are tons of deals on flights to the continent right now if you know when and how to look for them. This article will show you how to always get a cheap flight to Europe.

How to Earn Points for Free Flights and Hotel Stays – Free travel is my favorite type of travel. This post shows you eight strategies I use to earn over a million frequent flyer points. They will get you out of your house faster, cheaper and more comfortable.

How to (legally) stay in Europe for more than 90 days – Every year, thousands of travelers wonder how they can stay in Europe for more than 90 days, which is the Schengen zone limit. The good news is that there are several different ways to stay. In this post, I share what you can do to stay legal for more than 90 days and on the mainland in general.

How to Avoid ATM Fees – You’ll never have to pay any bank fees when you access your money in Europe. Here’s my advice on how to avoid bank fees while backpacking Europe.

Is Europe safe to visit? – Here’s how to ensure you stay safe while traveling across the continent.

Step 2: Get your gear for your Europe tour

A bunch of hiking gear in an empty field
How to choose the best backpack – It is important to choose a quality backpack for your trip because it will take a beating while traveling. This guide to choosing the right travel backpack will help you decide on the best pack for your trip.

What to pack for your trip – What should you pack on your trip? Well, there is no one right answer, but this list will give you a good place to start. It’s what I take with me on my travels (although you have to make some seasonal variations, I’m sure).

The Ultimate Packing List for Female Travelers – In this post, Christine Addis shares her insights on packing for women so you can travel almost anywhere without spending a fortune on gear.

How to buy good travel insurance – Travel insurance is one of the most important things you will need for your trip. You can’t have a car without car insurance or a house without home insurance, and you can’t have a trip without travel insurance.

Best Travel Cameras – Wondering what kind of camera you should get for your trip? This post will show you exactly what you need, regardless of your budget.

Step 3: How to get an amazing placement in Europe

A set of bunk beds in a dorm room
How to find cheap accommodation – If you’re looking to stay somewhere other than a hotel or hostel, this article lists all sorts of places to rest your head in Europe, from couches to farmhouses and even monasteries.

How to find a good hostel – This article contains my top tips on how to find an affordable, clean and fun hostel where you can meet lots of amazing people.

Best Hostels in Europe – This is a list of European hostels that I would definitely use again if I had the chance. I hope this helps on your next European backpacking adventure.

How to become a house sitter – This is a guide to house sitting, a wonderful opportunity that allows you to stay in a rented place in exchange for watching someone else’s home.

Check out my hostel hub page for more budget accommodation suggestions. It has all my favorite hostels in all of Europe.

And to find out where to stay in each city, visit my list of the best neighborhoods in Europe.

Step 4: Travel Europe on the cheap

A man in a gray shirt hitchhiking
7 Inexpensive Ways to Travel Across Europe – Traveling through Europe can still be quite expensive. Here are seven ways to backpack Europe without breaking the bank.

The Ultimate Guide to Saving Money with Eurail Passes – Everyone traveling to Europe wonders if they’ll save money by buying a rail pass or if it’s cheaper to buy tickets on the go. This detailed post outlines everything you need to know when buying a train ticket.

Step 5: Save money while traveling in Europe

a bunch of colorful euro banknotes
How to save money on food – Food is often a major expense when traveling to Europe. Here are some tips to save money on food so you can still afford a nice meal every now and then.

How to use the sharing economy to save money – The rise of the sharing economy has made backpacking in Europe much easier and cheaper. This post lists all of my favorite ride sharing, home sharing and local meetup sites so you can get off the tourist trail and experience everyday life with the locals.

61 Tips to Make You the Smartest Traveler – These 61 travel tips will help you become an expert traveler who travels Europe cheaper, better, longer and smarter.

14 major travel scams to avoid losing money to preventable travel fraud is unpleasant. Learn what scams to look out for in Europe and save yourself a potential headache.

Step 6: Find out what to see and do in Europe

travel map for planning a trip to Europe
What do you do while backpacking in Europe? A LOT! Here are all my comprehensive budget travel guides to destinations across Europe, with tips and advice on what to do and see, ways to save money and typical costs for each. You’ll find country-specific advice as well as a range of cities listed.

I have over 100 guides for places in Europe. Everything you’ll ever need to know about where you’re going can be found in these articles.

In addition to the country guides above, I’ve created tons of great itineraries for cities all over Europe. You can find my top European itineraries here.


This huge list of resources will help you plan your trip to Europe in an easy-to-follow, step-by-step way so you don’t get lost, overspend, or stress about your upcoming dream trip. Europe is one of my favorite parts of the world (which is why I spend so much time there). There is so much diversity in food, culture and language as well as history. I love the continent and I hope you use these tips to plan your ultimate European adventure.

Get your in-depth budget guide to Europe.

My detailed 200+ page guide is made for budget travelers like you. It cuts through the fluff found in other guides and gets straight to the practical information you need to travel in Europe. It offers itineraries, budgets, ways to save money, things to see and do off the beaten path, non-touristy restaurants, markets, bars, safety tips and much more. Click here to learn more and get your copy today.

Book your trip to Europe. logistics tips and tricks

Book your flight
Use Skyscanner to find cheap flights. They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines worldwide, so you always know that no stone has been left unturned.

Book your accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the largest inventory and the best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use as they consistently return the cheapest prices for guesthouses and budget hotels.

For recommendations on where to stay during your trip, here are my favorite hostels in Europe.

Don’t forget travel insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft and cancellation. It’s comprehensive protection should something go wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I have had to use it many times before. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save you money?
Check out my resources page for the best companies to use when traveling. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.

Want more information about Europe?
Be sure to visit our sustainable guide to Europe for more planning tips.

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