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Backpacking Western Europe for Beginners Datasheet
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Dragan Offline
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Backpacking Western Europe for Beginners Datasheet
Backpacking is one of those rites of passage that is both over-rated and under-rated. For recent high school grads, college age kids, and people on gap year or sabbatical, backpacking is great travel option that also manages to be adventurous. Our generation is not likely to be drafted soon to fight in a foreign war, so one of the few rites of passage that we have is backpacking. While not as popular for Americans, I highly encourage more Americans to try it. Brits, Australians, New Zealanders, and Canadians are all onto something. While it may entail lots of hedonism, it does present an opportunity for self-growth, introspection, increased confidence, and greater cultural awareness. To this day, I’m happy I backpacked Western Europe when I was younger because it gave me tremendous confidence to further explore the world on my own. Below, I'll detail how a complete beginner can successfully backpack Western Europe.

Western Europe is a great place for backpacking beginners, because you can use a 90 day Schengen visa, and have adequate time to see any number of countries you want. Europe is also good because public transit is generally of high quality and affordable. You are also able to find some great deals on flights that go within Europe. Also, is the safety factor, for Western Europe, at least in good part, is decently safe when compared to some major American cities. Western Europe in particular has a good tourist infrastructure. For beginners at least this is important, because many are leaving home or creature comforts for the first time—it helps to have others on the same path as you.

This will focus on my favorite method of backpacking Western Europe: using a EuRail pass and staying mostly at hostels. This datasheet will mainly help beginners who want to spend 14 days to 3 months backpacking Western Europe, although most of the things talked about are applicable to more advanced backpackers too.

Preplanning

The most important thing is to get your flight, which can be pretty expensive if you backpack in summer like many Anglos do. The sooner you get the flight, the better. Unless you’re the type that likes to burn the bridges behind you, get a round trip ticket. This helps you allocate your cash better, and gives your journey a since of urgency when you get there on day one.

The next thing is to arrange your ground transportation, which you will use as your primary method to get you between most of the cities you visit. A tried and true method is the EuRail pass, which works if you’re under 26 at the time of issuance, in which case you will get a student discount. I highly advise this, even if it is expensive, because it makes the international travel so much easier, and gives you maximum flexibility on your travel dates. It will also allow for most travel in Western Europe one ticket, but for Central and Eastern Europe, it may be less effective. If you try to arrange individual tickets, it gets very difficult and complicated very quickly, and then you have to worry about a very strict schedule. Thus, if you’re an absolute beginner get a EuRail pass—you’re only young once.

These are the two most important things, and what you want to do next is to find yourself a good backpack. This is what makes backpacking, well, backpacking. Go for a pack that you can carry given your frame size and weight, and make sure it has comfortable shoulder straps. Also ensure that it has straps that you can snap to distribute the weight more evenly. It needs to have a decent amount of internal volume so you can fit your toiletries, a book or two, one extra pair of shoes, a towel, flip flops, changes of clothes, an iPad or tablet, and a sport coat, among other things. There are backpacks I have found that don’t look like big hiking backpacks, but still have nice shoulder straps, that make you a little bit less conspicuous when out in public, so I recommend looking into the options for such a bag. Get a lock! More on this later.

At this point, your flight is arranged, you have a rough idea of how ground transportation will be handled, a backpack, and some general idea of where you want to go. Now you pack your backpack being careful not to over pack, and you remember to pack a rain coat, jacket, etc. It may also be a good idea to pack a flask and a bottle opener/multi-tool.

If you’re one to plan, you can start to research and book your hostels. You can book a first night in a hostel in several cities, and then worry about extending your stay when you arrive, that way you can get a feel of the town, and move on if you don’t like the place. Or, you can book every single night of the whole trip, but at the expense of flexibility. Print out your reservation details and put them in a folder. Unless you like to play fast and lose with your plans, book at least a night or two in your first city so you can get your bearings. Photocopy your important documents and put the copies somewhere safe in your backpack.

Buy travel adapters. Make sure you have what you need based on the countries you’ll visit. Most importantly, figure out the money situation. If you have a credit card, it’s great, because if there’s ever an emergency situation, you’ll have a way to book a room, flight, get medical care, transportation, use an ATM, etc. Otherwise have some emergency cash in a second bank account, or have a relative who can send money if there’s a problem via western union or bank transfer. A general rule of thumb would be: Hostel 30-50 USD a night, food 20 USD if you keep it simple, 20-30USD everything else. That means $70-$100 per day. You can backpack for less, but unless you’re a frugal person, the money will leave your hands sooner than you think, especially when things are unplanned. If you were to go to the grocery store every day and use the kitchen at the hostel you could keep daily food costs at $10 or less-- I’ve seen people do this, but this is not likely unless you are willing to do this process every day or you are short on money.

Make sure your cards are valid for use in Europe by calling your bank. Make sure you have your phone situation worked out. You can get an American plan for travelers that will be expensive but will ensure your phone works in most countries, you can get individual sim cards for each country, or you can go phone-less which I don’t recommend. Have the situation sorted out or else you will get hit with roaming fees once you arrive in Europe.

Arrival

Your flight will be most certainly long and unpleasant in economy class. You will be tired, out of energy, possibly sleepy, and jet-lagged on arrival. So, when you arrive at your destination airport, it is very crucial that you get to your first hostel/hotel as soon as possible. Hopefully you went to the exchange office before you ever left, otherwise you need to get to the airport ATM and get 50-100USD as soon as possible. Yes, the exchange rate won’t be the best, but it is better than going to a currency office at the airport, which offers even worse rates. You now need to secure ground transportation to your hostel, which is hopefully in the city center (more on that later). It’s crucial you get to the first hostel safely, because you’re tired and may make dumb mistakes. Taxis are risky, especially if you don’t speak the language because you could be scammed. If you opt for the taxi route, make sure the airport ground transport people secure one for you. Otherwise an Uber would be a good idea, depending on local laws and availability of Uber. Public transit, shuttles and buses are also a good idea. They’ll go to the city center for a fixed rate, and are most likely cheaper. They’ll also be much safer.

You’ve at this point hopefully made it to the city center, and hopefully your hostel is close by, it may be a good time to get some food, and a cup of coffee, because it may still be a bit too early to check into the hostel. Just get something into you, your body just needs some food and a jolt to the nervous system to get you through your arrival day. Get to your hostel; depending on your budget, you may walk, take public transit, or a taxi.

You’re now at your hostel and it’s time to check in. You have a reservation, or you’ve found a hostel via the internet that has beds for the night. Listen to what the front desk clerk tells you, because the hostel may have certain policies, fees, and even hours the front door is locked (which means you can’t get in). Although lock-outs are becoming less common, and are more prevalent in cheaper hostels, or hostels that are in neighborhoods that have noise restrictions.

Go to your room, which is most likely a public room that has 3,4,6, 8 or more beds. Find an open bed. Find a place to lock your stuff when you’re not in the room. Hopefully there’s a locker that you can put your lock on inside the room, or in a common area, or at the front desk. This is important, because someone will gladly take the opportunity to jack your stuff. Meet the other people in the room if you’re social because they may have a better idea of what the city is like, or may know what’s going on at the hostel. One of the primary reasons you stay at a hostel is because it is cheap, but the other reason you stay at one is because they’re social. So, don’t disregard the social aspect. A lot of backpackers stick together in groups thus it’s not hard at all to meet some new people. Everyone is in the same situation and wants to party, hookup up, and see stuff.

There are basically two types of hostels: party hostels and non-party ones. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. Party hostels are what they sound like. They are hostels where things get crazy, and people party on the premises. You may have trouble sleeping at a party hostel, but sometimes it may be worth the lack of sleep. Non-party hostels may have older guests, noise restrictions, or premises that aren’t good for partying. You can check review websites or the hostel’s website to get a general idea of which one it is. Some hostels that are run by non-profit groups are generally non party-hostels, and are better for people that like to sleep and families.

Take a short nap, but make sure you have your passport very close to you, or locked up. After you’ve taken a short disco nap, it’s time to meet new arrivals in your room or to head out for some food and fun. You may not feel very social because you’re really tired, but it may put you at ease to meet some of your roommates. If your roommates are chill, they’ll likely tell you their plans, share a drink with you, and maybe invite for something they’re going to do later. It can’t really be any simpler, really. Just look out for weirdos. A lot of hostels have bars, so this would be a good place to start if you’re feeling social. People are generally receptive to meeting new people here, so just strike up a conversation or ask if you can sit with a group. Generally they will say yes.

If you’re traveling alone, it’s important to remember that there’s no one to bail you out if anything goes wrong. So be moderate with your alcohol consumption, etc. Or, at least be moderate until you have some experience under your belt.

Traveling to your next destination

You inevitably will have to move on to your next destination. Pack up all your stuff, make sure you have your passport and travel documents, and check out. Make sure your phone has a full charge. It’s now your obligation to get to the train station or less possibly the airport. You can always ask hostel staff for directions or help because they generally travel as well. Walk, take a taxi or public transit to your departure point. Leave enough time to make your train or flight comfortably. If you’re taking a train, be careful outside the train station. A lot of times, more shady elements congregate outside it in Western Europe, so keep your valuables close, and avoid talking to sketchy people outside.

If you’re taking the train, there is one important thing to do before you get on the train if you have a EuRail pass; you need to activate it for it’s first use. Go to the ticket office, and present the pass to the ticket agent. The agent will endorse it and write the date on it. Depending on the pass, you will have a certain time period of unlimited travel, or you will have a set number of travel days. In any case, today is the first day your EuRail pass will be valid/ used.

It helps to research the train you will be taking ahead of time. Sometimes, although not always, there will be a separate seat reservation fee you will have to pay (mainly for flagship trains, like Germany’s ICE or France’s TGV). This is regardless of whether you have a EuRail pass or not. Make sure it is paid if it is applicable to your trip.
One last word about trains: make sure the portion of the train you’re in does not split from the other part of the train, because if it does split you will be sent to the wrong destination if you’re on the wrong section of the train.

Try not to only spend one day in a city, because you will tire out a lot faster if you’re traveling every day.

Destinations

As a first time backpacker to Europe you have a lot of options as far as destinations are concerned. Common destinations include: Paris, London, Edinburgh, Berlin, Rome, Milan, Amsterdam, Stockholm, and so on. A lot of people doing Western Europe will also devote time to Eastern or Central Europe, for example Budapest, Bucharest, Vienna, Croatia, etc. The destination is up to your personal preference, but you will find a lot of backpackers in Western Europe, and the number will in general thin out the further east you go. I’ve see backpackers in Belgrade or Skopje, but these places are a lot more off the beaten path, and harder to get to logistically as well.

It’s a great idea to mix partying and culture. Visiting Berlin would be great because it’s a party city, but maybe Paris would be good too in order to visit museums. The sky’s the limit.

General Advice

• Scamming is very prevalent in Western Europe, so be aware at all times and avoid propositions or approaches on the street from strangers
• When showering at the hostel wear your flip flops and make sure your stuff is locked up. Make sure your passport cash and phone is with you in the shower. These are things that you cannot afford to lose.
• It is better to pay with cash in a lot of places in Western Europe, but don’t carry too much. ATMs will always be close.
• If you’re at a party hostel you may have trouble sleeping. Bring some headphones, or earplugs. If this is an issue, book a private room or find a non-party hostel.
• People will hook up at hostels, even in public rooms, so do your best to ignore any activity.
• Find a common area in the hostel if you want to meet people. Every hostel has some sort of common area.
• Chat up girls. They want to hookup too. It’s not that hard in the party environment of many hostels. Travel is the ultimate aphrodisiac. Many will hookup in shared rooms even if there are others present.
• Be aware of all local laws; I.e. Public drinking, noise restrictions, opening hours for bars, etc.
• Many shared rooms are co-ed! Just be respectful, polite, and not a creep.
• Unplug from social media—your whole experience will be more relaxing and satisfying this way. You also don’t want everyone on your social media to be aware of all the debauchery you’re getting into.
• Don’t hold/carry other people’s stuff that’s not yours.
• Avoiding acting like what your national stereotype is. Part of backpacking is about making real connections and having fun with fellow travelers. Be polite, respectful, and a good listener.
• A lot of hostels offer free walking tours of the city, these are a good idea if you don’t know what to do, or are companion-less
• Hostels may offer pub crawls for a set fee, which are good if you like drinking and socializing with other travelers.
• Costs vary widely from city to city, so be aware of this.
• Be aware of local tipping norms.
• Carry a water bottle in order to stay hydrated.
• Don't be an pussy and tell people you are from Canada if you're not. Own up to being American.

Let me know if you have further questions, or if there's something I forgot to mention. I hope this datasheet helps people new to backpacking have a better first time experience!

~Dragan
(This post was last modified: 01-13-2018 10:06 PM by Dragan.)
01-13-2018 10:02 PM
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Adrenaline Offline
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RE: Backpacking Western Europe for Beginners Datasheet
Interesting sheet.

The idea of backpacking Europe has always been in the back of my mind, but keep ending up back in SEA instead. I think the costs associated with travelling Europe, especially with the weak Aussie dollar at the moment, along with having to stay in multiple person dorm rooms and live out of a backpack for weeks/months on end put me off the most. I may just be slightly too old for it now at 26 but sounds like a very uncomfortable experience, compared to being able to have your own room in other destinations for $20 a night, or hiring out an Airbnb for a couple of weeks. Lack of sleep is something I can’t deal with for very long, and I find it very difficult to sleep in a room of strangers constantly moving about.

In the end, I’m not sure if the juice is worth the squeeze, because obviously I’ve never done it, but every aspect of it from the constant travelling, to the sleeping situation, to the expenses, tell me it wouldn’t be something I would enjoy. The only part of it that sounds advertising is the partying/experiences and meeting new girls in ‘holiday mode’ all the time. Can you go further into your experiences with the partying/girl situation in hostels?
(This post was last modified: 01-14-2018 04:12 AM by Adrenaline.)
01-14-2018 04:10 AM
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RE: Backpacking Western Europe for Beginners Datasheet
Good post OP!

(01-14-2018 04:10 AM)Adrenaline Wrote:  Interesting sheet.

The idea of backpacking Europe has always been in the back of my mind, but keep ending up back in SEA instead. I think the costs associated with travelling Europe, especially with the weak Aussie dollar at the moment, along with having to stay in multiple person dorm rooms and live out of a backpack for weeks/months on end put me off the most. I may just be slightly too old for it now at 26 but sounds like a very uncomfortable experience, compared to being able to have your own room in other destinations for $20 a night, or hiring out an Airbnb for a couple of weeks. Lack of sleep is something I can’t deal with for very long, and I find it very difficult to sleep in a room of strangers constantly moving about.

In the end, I’m not sure if the juice is worth the squeeze, because obviously I’ve never done it, but every aspect of it from the constant travelling, to the sleeping situation, to the expenses, tell me it wouldn’t be something I would enjoy. The only part of it that sounds advertising is the partying/experiences and meeting new girls in ‘holiday mode’ all the time. Can you go further into your experiences with the partying/girl situation in hostels?

Its worth backpacking Europe on an extended trip as an Aussie if you have a genuine desire to see the cities/places. Then the extra cost and journey time make it worthwhile - you get to see lots of history & culture and do a lot of partying at the same time. Though if you decide to do it its probably worth saving up a bit more and just paying for a private room in hostels. It'll cost more but be so worth it - in terms of rest, security and logistics for banging its just so much better. If you've no desire to see the cities though then its not really worth the huge effort/cost in terms of just partying quality. Its easier, and cheaper, for you to hit places closer to home.
01-14-2018 07:54 AM
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Dragan Offline
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RE: Backpacking Western Europe for Beginners Datasheet
(01-14-2018 04:10 AM)Adrenaline Wrote:  Interesting sheet.

The idea of backpacking Europe has always been in the back of my mind, but keep ending up back in SEA instead. I think the costs associated with travelling Europe, especially with the weak Aussie dollar at the moment, along with having to stay in multiple person dorm rooms and live out of a backpack for weeks/months on end put me off the most. I may just be slightly too old for it now at 26 but sounds like a very uncomfortable experience, compared to being able to have your own room in other destinations for $20 a night, or hiring out an Airbnb for a couple of weeks. Lack of sleep is something I can’t deal with for very long, and I find it very difficult to sleep in a room of strangers constantly moving about.

In the end, I’m not sure if the juice is worth the squeeze, because obviously I’ve never done it, but every aspect of it from the constant travelling, to the sleeping situation, to the expenses, tell me it wouldn’t be something I would enjoy. The only part of it that sounds advertising is the partying/experiences and meeting new girls in ‘holiday mode’ all the time. Can you go further into your experiences with the partying/girl situation in hostels?

There are people that backpack closer to 30, so you're not too old at all. Western Europe is a bit expensive, so a good compromise is between a public room and a hotel would be a private room at a hostel.

Believe me, when you're traveling around a lot, it's pretty easy to fall asleep.

As far as partying is concerned you never run out of opportunities. A lot of times groups of girls, dudes, or mixed groups will travel together, with the idea being that they party as much as possible. It's easy to strike up a friendship with one of these groups, and even travel with them if you want. A lot of people at the hostel will be smoking weed/ looking for it, so there's an in there if you're into that.

A lot of times big groups of people just organically form in common areas, and people will have discussions about travel, sing songs if someone has a guitar, or everyone will have beer and be playing drinking games. That's a good place to start. Hostels surprisingly aren't sausage fests at all. Girls want to hook up because "vacation". Just ask the girl about where she's traveling, tell her how adventurous she is, etc, etc. I already talked a bit about girls and logistics, a lot will be willing to hook up in a public room, otherwise if you really want the bang, just get a private room.
(This post was last modified: 01-14-2018 11:45 AM by Dragan.)
01-14-2018 11:43 AM
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RE: Backpacking Western Europe for Beginners Datasheet
(01-14-2018 04:10 AM)Adrenaline Wrote:  I think the costs associated with travelling Europe[...]

Taking into account the fact that costs of living vary wildly throughout Europe, I didn't even find it all that expensive. I set a budget and apart from a handful of unnecessary expenses that I'd allowed for, I kept well within it in the end. I'll even go as far as to say that I found it marginally more expensive than when I did SEA a couple of years later.
Having said that, I spoke to a few other Australians during my travels who admitted to having spent double my budget in a similar time frame; in addition to the fact that I had implemented a number of measures/lifestyles that allowed me to travel for much cheaper than the average backpacker.

If you spend time at major party cities/islands, then that'll chew through your wallet far more.

(01-14-2018 04:10 AM)Adrenaline Wrote:  I may just be slightly too old for it now at 26 but sounds like a very uncomfortable experience, compared to being able to have your own room in other destinations for $20 a night, or hiring out an Airbnb for a couple of weeks. Lack of sleep is something I can’t deal with for very long, and I find it very difficult to sleep in a room of strangers constantly moving about.

In terms of the highlighted bit, something I feel the need to corroborate with the OP is that I've indeed noticed a trend of Americans (North Americans to a lesser extent) cottoning on to the backpacking thing later than the Antipodeans (Aussies/Kiwis/South Africans), British, and other Europeans.

Apart from the study abroad people, the Americans I've come across have tended to be considerably older than the latter nationalities I mentioned. I approached an American girl at BKK Suvarnabhumi Airport who turned out to be in her early 30s; an American dude at my hostel in Cambodia was 35. Obviously these are outliers, but yeah mid- to later-twenties seems to be the average for Americans backpacking.

(01-14-2018 04:10 AM)Adrenaline Wrote:  Can you go further into your experiences with the partying/girl situation in hostels?

It's pretty much night game an additional 4-ish hours a day, every day. Hostels organise activities (read: a chance to get utterly shitfaced) every night; as I normally like to travel solo, it means that I wouldn't be 'stuck' trying to game girls that were also travelling alone. On one hand, it eliminates the dudes who simply want to get ABSOLUTELY FUCKING WASTED on a pub crawl, on the other, I found that hostel chicks at nightfall are simply run the gauntlet of options in the form of other guys in the hostel that can distract them from you.

Being proactive in socialising during the day helps. Especially in party hostels, drinking starts before midday and you get guests who pretty much do fuck all besides hang at the hostel bar/common room, reading a book, looking up flights, etc. etc. You'll have enough time in the day to do touristy shit (i.e. passive day game) or a walking tour — loads of hostels have their own, so it's a good way to game there — and hang at the hostel bar to build social proof and comfort.

At non-party hostels, although there'll be drinking going on, you'll definitely notice a more toned down atmosphere that you can play to your strengths if your game style is a bit more passive and you're totally over competing with a whole mob of other massive 6' + Australians for that one tipsy American. I did exactly that at my hostel in Tallinn, where I managed to isolate a 19 year old Belgian who I noticed was bored witless by the dinner conversations about languages and start-ups, by telling her "let's get the fuck out of here" and bouncing to a bar at the old town.

EDIT: Re-reading through the OP, I realised that I re-iterated his points about walking tours and pub crawls. Nevertheless, I reckon it needs to be emphasised in terms of hostel day- and night-game, respectively. The good thing about the latter is that it's less social-circle-oriented than the pub crawls you'd have done in university, but it's also highly dependant on your game and the circumstances around you — I fucked an English 7 within an hour of her opening me on the dance floor at a hostel pub crawl in Hanoi (not Europe, I know, but hostel pub crawls are more or less the same around the world), but struck out hard with a Dutch 7.5 the next night; not too much more stunning, but I was after more blonde notches.
(This post was last modified: 01-14-2018 12:11 PM by JWLZG.)
01-14-2018 11:53 AM
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Dragan Offline
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RE: Backpacking Western Europe for Beginners Datasheet
(01-14-2018 11:53 AM)JWLZG Wrote:  
(01-14-2018 04:10 AM)Adrenaline Wrote:  I think the costs associated with travelling Europe[...]

Taking into account the fact that costs of living vary wildly throughout Europe, I didn't even find it all that expensive. I set a budget and apart from a handful of unnecessary expenses that I'd allowed for, I kept well within it in the end. I'll even go as far as to say that I found it marginally more expensive than when I did SEA a couple of years later.
Having said that, I spoke to a few other Australians during my travels who admitted to having spent double my budget in a similar time frame; in addition to the fact that I had implemented a number of measures/lifestyles that allowed me to travel for much cheaper than the average backpacker.

If you spend time at major party cities/islands, then that'll chew through your wallet far more.

(01-14-2018 04:10 AM)Adrenaline Wrote:  I may just be slightly too old for it now at 26 but sounds like a very uncomfortable experience, compared to being able to have your own room in other destinations for $20 a night, or hiring out an Airbnb for a couple of weeks. Lack of sleep is something I can’t deal with for very long, and I find it very difficult to sleep in a room of strangers constantly moving about.

In terms of the highlighted bit, something I feel the need to corroborate with the OP is that I've indeed noticed a trend of Americans (North Americans to a lesser extent) cottoning on to the backpacking thing later than the Antipodeans (Aussies/Kiwis/South Africans), British, and other Europeans.

Apart from the study abroad people, the Americans I've come across have tended to be considerably older than the latter nationalities I mentioned. I approached an American girl at BKK Suvarnabhumi Airport who turned out to be in her early 30s; an American dude at my hostel in Cambodia was 35. Obviously these are outliers, but yeah mid- to later-twenties seems to be the average for Americans backpacking.

To be honest I think Americans have a negative impression of backpacking from "Eurotrip" and "Taken". I think Americans are that dumb. There's also the fact that Americans expect shit tons of amenities when they travel, including slop troughs for free breakfast buffets. This new generation coming of age now (18-30) has never really grown up, and have been treated like adolescents by their parents even if they are of age. So it takes longer for them to get out of the American matrix and to realize that it would be fun to travel on their own. I didn't see that many Americans hitting the major destinations when I was traveling.

They also seemed to be in groups, and they seemed to be 21+ age as opposed to 18 or 19. Didn't see any American girls traveling alone. "Eat Pray Love" has had an influence on career oriented women that are late 20's or early 30's so you'll see them backpacking. There's also a subset of backpackers that make it a semi-permanent lifestyle and I've seen the deadlock type that have been traveling the world for years and hitting up moonlight parties, working under the table when they run out of money.

On the subject of backpacking, a great film, especially for Americans and people that like SEA is "The Beach" with Leo DiCaprio. It's from 2000. It hits on hedonism, hostel game, etc.
(This post was last modified: 01-14-2018 12:13 PM by Dragan.)
01-14-2018 12:12 PM
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RE: Backpacking Western Europe for Beginners Datasheet
Solid post, but I'll add that buying a hiking backpack to go party in hostels is a waste of money.

You're much better off buying a duffel bag, or even a roller, that you can use for the rest of your life.

I did the backpack thing once, and after I was stuck with this hideous backpack thing that I'd never use it again.There's definite convenience to these Subaru bags, but think about it, how much do you ACTUALLY move with the bag?

The only times you wear the backpack are when you're moving from place to place. Do you really need to attract attention to yourself with the hiking bag?

A large duffel bag is not only 100x more stylish, but also more durable. Get to the hostel, lock your shit up, and forget about it.

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04-07-2018 07:32 PM
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RE: Backpacking Western Europe for Beginners Datasheet
(04-07-2018 07:32 PM)redbeard Wrote:  Solid post, but I'll add that buying a hiking backpack to go party in hostels is a waste of money.

You're much better off buying a duffel bag, or even a roller, that you can use for the rest of your life.

I did the backpack thing once, and after I was stuck with this hideous backpack thing that I'd never use it again.There's definite convenience to these Subaru bags, but think about it, how much do you ACTUALLY move with the bag?

The only times you wear the backpack are when you're moving from place to place. Do you really need to attract attention to yourself with the hiking bag?

A large duffel bag is not only 100x more stylish, but also more durable. Get to the hostel, lock your shit up, and forget about it.

I have to disagree with this. Becuase of that dumb thread, I used a duffel to travel to a single destination. There was a little weight on it, and as a result of lugging it around the airport to my home, I was rewarded with the most intense upper back/shoulder stiffness I ever experienced. Backpacks are infinitely more mobile, and can carry supplies for months. I don't know what you guys were all thinking in that duffel thread, since without a car, they are almost completely useless.
04-07-2018 07:43 PM
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Dragan Offline
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Post: #9
RE: Backpacking Western Europe for Beginners Datasheet
It is more about getting around the city effectively without having to carry something in your arms or roll. Especially when walking long distances or taking public transit, which a lot of backpackers do. You may be right with regards glampacking, which is luxury backpacking...
04-07-2018 07:46 PM
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zatara Offline
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RE: Backpacking Western Europe for Beginners Datasheet
Duffel bags are terrible, really really inconvenient to carry for any length of time. I understand people not wanting to invest in the huge camping style 50Litre+ backpacks too though, because they're both ugly and not usable very often. And rollers are annoying if you're doing lots of moving around checking in, checking out etc. Or if you're in a developing country with shitty sidewalks.

A generic 40litre 'schoolbag' style backpack is generally the best idea in my experience. Something like:

https://www.thenorthface.com/shop/overha...f9t#hero=0

Easy to carry, looks OK, and 40L is loads of space for anything under a month long 'backpacking' holiday as long as you pack smart. Just get laundry done a couple times midway through and you're flying. As a bonus you won't have to check it in either, so no check-in fees on budget airlines / waiting around to collect bags / lost luggage. A decent backpack that size is something you'll also use semi-frequently in home life too for bringing things places.
(This post was last modified: 04-08-2018 05:32 AM by zatara.)
04-08-2018 05:31 AM
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Post: #11
RE: Backpacking Western Europe for Beginners Datasheet
Duffel bags are a horrible way to carry a lot of weight. There's a reason you don't see the military carrying around duffel bags.
04-08-2018 09:48 AM
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whiteknightrises Offline
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RE: Backpacking Western Europe for Beginners Datasheet
Good stuff man

Not sure I'd do something like that now but hope this helps someone on here.

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04-08-2018 10:01 AM
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superiorClimber Offline
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RE: Backpacking Western Europe for Beginners Datasheet
Great thread idea Dragan. I never did the Western Europe circuit, but did hit South America.

Couple things I learned that weren't mentioned:
- Thanks to capitalism, you can buy almost anything no matter where you go. Pack less and buy more on the road.
- Leave extra space in your backpack for items you want to bring back to remember the trip by.
- Only travel with a good pair of hiking boots / approach shoes, and some flip-flops.
- You don't "need to" drink the local alcohol at every place you go. Everyone has the same story at the end of the trip ("Dude, I woke up with the worst hangover the next morning"), and straight alcohol tastes the same everywhere no matter what language is on the bottle.
- Quickly make friends with bartenders and service people at the neighborhood bar near your hostel or lodging. They are easily the best people to show you around a city, will get you connected to a local group of friends, and will be a local connection in a city once you leave should you end up back in the same city again.
06-12-2018 02:05 AM
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RE: Backpacking Western Europe for Beginners Datasheet
(06-12-2018 02:05 AM)superiorClimber Wrote:  Great thread idea Dragan. I never did the Western Europe circuit, but did hit South America.

Couple things I learned that weren't mentioned:
- Thanks to capitalism, you can buy almost anything no matter where you go. Pack less and buy more on the road.
- Leave extra space in your backpack for items you want to bring back to remember the trip by.
- Only travel with a good pair of hiking boots / approach shoes, and some flip-flops.
- You don't "need to" drink the local alcohol at every place you go. Everyone has the same story at the end of the trip ("Dude, I woke up with the worst hangover the next morning"), and straight alcohol tastes the same everywhere no matter what language is on the bottle.
- Quickly make friends with bartenders and service people at the neighborhood bar near your hostel or lodging. They are easily the best people to show you around a city, will get you connected to a local group of friends, and will be a local connection in a city once you leave should you end up back in the same city again.

Yeah especially in Europe you can find whatever you're looking for, although it may be a bit more expensive.

Agree about the extra space.

Good hiking/walking shoes for sure, flip flops, and some shoes for going out.

Yeah pretty true about the alcohol.

Bartenders are great as well as people at the hostel.
06-12-2018 12:00 PM
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