It’s hard to beat the allure of backpacking trips: just strap on a bag and go. Backpacking is often seen as a style of travel that is very cheap, very hard, and most often practiced by the young. Travel + Leisure peels back myth from reality, exploring backpacking trips for travelers of all ages and all budgets.
Backpacking vacations offer almost unlimited freedom—but ask a lot in planning labor. Not unlike Tom Hanks’s famous line in A League of Their Own: there’s no concierge in backpacking. Whether you’re gearing up for a long overland walk or linking up a series of destinations by train and public transit, the only one holding the map and timetable is you. For those who want to walk all 2,650 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, take a four-day hike up Peru’s Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, or bum around southeast Asia for a month, make sure you sit down several months ahead of time and tease out the details. What kind of visas might you need? Does this bus run on Sundays? What’s open on a national holiday? Where’s the closest ATM? When should I buy what?
Europe remains the iconic backpacking destination. Not only does backpacking provide a cheap way to see a fairly expensive region of the world, but it also is especially conducive to Europe’s crisscrossed network of public transportation, Euro-zone monetary policy, and vast number of English speakers. Eurail is still a traveler’s most affordable bet for getting around, and you’ll save even more if you buy your pass while in the United States. All things considered, Europe is a pretty easy place to backpack through—but that doesn’t mean trips there require any less planning.
Want to save money and see the world? Interested in seeing an old locale from a new perspective? Looking to cross out the “backpacking through Europe” entry on your to-do list? Read on for our tips, tricks, and guides to help making that next backpacking journey a reality.