Hello fellow adventurer! Looking to go on a backpacking trip on a budget?
Here’s an important checklist if you want to head to UK or Europe for a month. I learnt quite a bit when I went for a month’s backpacking trip, and I hope this list will help you if you’re planning to go on an epic trip by yourself. 😀
I did not bring a lot of cash as it was pretty scary to lug them around. So on certain places I used my credit card instead. If you are really in need of cash, just use the Free ATM withdrawal machines as the rates are pretty good as well. Avoid exchanging with money changer as it can be quite expensive.
Since I traveled to a few countries, I scoured Hipmunk and Skyscanner to get the cheapest tickets possible. I also used Seat61 to plan my journey more efficiently as it will show me traveling options and time.
Major trainlines in Europe
Took this from Florence to Rome.
When traveling within a country, you can also buy the tickets at the station itself without pre-booking. Did it when I went to Utrecht from Amsterdam.
I took this when I was going back to London from Paris.
I have no experience with this airline but here’s another budget airline option for you. 🙂
I took Ryan Air from Brussels to Italy, and you need to pay around €15 for 15kg bag allowance. Do note that they are really strict on your hand luggage as well so becareful.
Vueling gives you 23kg free baggage allowance so it was a blessing. T___T No more lugging the heavy bags everywhere. I took Vueling from Rome to Paris and it was only USD4 for the flight.
These are definitely my must-have-apps when I was there for a month.
Hands on the most convenient app ever. I arrived in London in the wee hours, and getting to my hostel was no problem at all, as it shows the cheapest and best way. The train and bus times are updated live as well.
Because Citymapper are only available in bigger cities, sometimes I rely on Google Maps too.
Tripadvisor and Foursquare
I use these a lot when I was finding for places to eat nearby, or to know what are the best attractions nearby as I do not travel with itineraries hehe. These are also great to see where locals eat, and find cheap but satisfying meals.
This is very handy when you have an early flight to catch and you do not want to pay more for cabs. I took a short trip from my hostel to the train station in Brussels for only €7 in a Mercedez Benz hoho.
Most of the museums have audio guidebooks with a price, but with this app you can just plug in your earphones and learn about the place with its comprehensive podcast. You must get this free app! Just download the podcast beforehand if you do not have internet connection.
But when it comes to getting connected on your travels, there are many options for you to choose from. I opted for Three prepaid, which has the ‘Feel at Home‘ package where we can roam for free. It is only £20 for a month for unlimited data in the UK, which is perfect for me.
Destinations covered in Europe:
The package includes free calls to EU and 12gb data per month when on roaming.
Meals take up most of your budget so I practice this little trick. I have lunch at a nice little restaurant or cafe, and most of dinners are either supermarket meals or I cook myself in the hostel. The local farmer markets are a great place to eat as well as you can get really wonderful meals at the fraction of the price. Plus there are usually free sampling so you can try out the different types of local food. I also like eating at museums too as it is no frills, and still delicious at the same time.
I mostly stayed in hostels as I was supported by Hostelling International. I love hostels because of the opportunities to meet people from different countries, and its self catering kitchen. Click here to read a compilation and honest review of all the hostels that I’ve stayed. At hostels are also where you can get helpful tips on free things to do around the area.
However in Florence, I had to book my accommodation last minute so I resorted to Airbnb. Remember to look for the instant book symbol if you are in need of a place to stay last minute as you do not need to wait for the owners to approve.
If you’re under 25, and is a still a student, rejoice because you can get discounts on most of the attractions in Europe. 😀 If you have a student card, remember to maximize it as much as you can. Some cafes and restaurants even have discounts if you’re a student so don’t hesitate to ask.
The best way to explore and learn about the city you are in is to join Free Walking Tours. You only have to pay a small tip after the tour based on your own review with the guide. I love these as you will able to ask questions and make friends with fellow travelers that are in the tour group itself.
Most of the walking tours only require you to be at the meeting point but some might need you to book your slots at the respective websites.
Bonus tip! The dreaded part of any trips, the packing. Not really a money saving tip but here are some of the things that I packed to minimize stress. I only brought a big backpack (45litre), and a smaller day pack (Which I sort of regretted, because I had trouble carrying two backpack at once, the day pack kept slipping off), hence I preferred a sling bag instead for my future backpacking trip.
So, what to pack to maximize storage?
Top and bottoms
It was winter when I was there, hence I brought about 4 long sleeves, and also an additional 2 Uniqlo heat techs. I also recommend bringing heat tech leggings, thin and easy to just roll it in your backpack. A jeans will be your best friend as you can wear it over and over again.
Undergarments and socks
Around 4 pairs cause you can wash them.
Bring a pair of good sneakers as you are going to do a lot walking. I also brought a pair of boots but sorta regretted it cause it was heavy and huge.
Scarfs and gloves
If you do not want to pack so many things, get your scarf and gloves in London or Europe as they are pretty cheap. A good wool scarf is only £2 in Primark, which is definitely more affordable than Malaysia
The less the better, your phone, iPad and a camera will do. One great tip is to bring an universal adapter that has USB slots so you can charge multiple devices at the same time. A pair of earphone is especially important especially when you are traveling from countries to countries.
Additional items that you might need
In London and Europe, there’s clean tap water so save more money by refilling your water bottle instead of buying every time.
To keep things organized and to keep unfinished cookies fresh haha.
To jot down your experience and places that you went, traditionally.
Extra foldable bag
So you can put your souvenirs and shopping woohoo!
To keep your money and phone under your shirt, as pickpockets always roam around tourist attractions. I did not carry one though, but I hid my money in the inner pockets of my jacket and held onto my phone the whole time.
Swiss Army Knife
When you cannot find any utensils to eat your takeaway food, or nail clipper. I also saw a fellow backpacker cutting his cheese to be placed on top his baguette in the hostel. A versatile little tool.
Travel sized detergent
One bar of soap that lasts one wash cost around €1.50 to €2.00 so it’s much cheaper to bring a travel sized one so it can last you the whole trip. I washed my clothes once a week so it was all good.
Hope these few tips will help you in making your trip to Europe a better one. 🙂