While on a train to Bruges (“Venice of the North”), I met a guy in his 3rd week of backpacking across Europe. He was 24-years and in between undergraduate and graduate studies. We talked the entire time and I was extremely intrigued and impressed by his undertaking! I was also able to share my recent experiences in Budapest, Prague, Vienna, Brussels and Rome with him! Talking to him was a great joy for me and something I will never forget. Read more about Josh below and the tools he used to guide his trip below.
Josh is from Toronto and will be backpacking for 4 months across Europe. He had 2 bags with him (1 duffel) and a backpack. He funded his trip by saving his hard earned money as an undergraduate, so finding economical means of lodging and transportation are critical (even though he was able to take advantage of many student discounts along the way). He also shared that there is TONS of information on the Internet and he really uses the reviews to guide his selections.
He had many things spread out over the table in front of his seat. The first thing I noticed was a very large big book called Lonely Planet Europe (Travel Guide), providing insight into what to do, where to go and what to see, all on a budget. (note there is a Kindle version). From Josh’s perspective, the book is great for discovering “highlights and hidden gems that will make your trip unique”. For example, fries are popular in Brussels… instead of ordering fries at the average eatery, Josh found out about a more unique experience and was looking a place he read about that served “Indian” fries.
When I travel, the first thing I do is find a fancy Marriott to stay at. Josh stays in hostels (think dorm room with lockers to secure your things) using HostelWorld.com to find safe, secure housing (he’s extremely cautious and even locks his backpack with all his valuables to the seat while on the train, just in case he falls asleep). In Bruges, there were 2 options: one had a review stating that “loud music” is played up until 6 am and one had a designated “quiet time.” (He picked the latter).
Josh did not have cell service but rejoiced that most sites he visited had Wi-Fi. He also told me about an app he used to download maps for offline access. The app would then use the signal from the nearest tower to locate where you are and navigation to various places. I didn’t take the name of the specific app he was using, but Maps With Me (Android) sounds pretty similar. He also had a large paper map spread across the table that he picked up from local sites and was using highlighters/pens to identify destinations.
Good luck out there Josh, wherever you are!!!
See also Backpacking Europe via Pinterest