I am a 23 year old traveling yoga teacher and this is my guide to backpacking Europe.
I got back to New York mid July from my London trip and I left for Europe August 28th.
How does one afford this? A miracle is the answer.
I worked for 1.5 months and all the money I made went straight to my Europe Fund. My goal was to save up $3000. I ended up having around $3500 for my trip. This does not include my plane tickets or train tickets. I paid for those separately. During those 1.5 months I had three part-time jobs and many side jobs. I moved out of my apartment and had to find someone to take over my lease. I threw away ALL of my things, clothing and furniture included. All I had left was two suitcases full of things that went into storage. I was couch hopping for my last month in NYC due to plans changing. To make it even crazier, I was sick the week before traveling. On top of all of that, I opened a pop-up yoga studio in NYC with friends.
Anyways, all I’m saying is that I made this trip happen, because I believe in my dreams. I fully supported myself for this trip, with no financial assistance. I traveled on my own with no boyfriend, because one can backpack Europe without one. It’s a thing and people need to stop asking me about this. I am very proud of myself for making this crazy adventure happen and there will be many more to come.
So, let’s get started!
$3500 for two months and don’t forget the conversion to Euros/Pounds, so it was a bit less.
♦One large backpack– Get one that fits your body and straps around your chest and hips. No back pain needed. And if you do yoga, get one that has clips or straps at the bottom to hold your mat. I tried on many backpacks to find the proper fit. I use an Osprey Backpack.
♦A purse or travel bag that straps over the shoulder and chest so it is always in front of you.
♦Lululemon travel size yoga mat
♦Yoga mat holder– For the days you don’t want to lug around your entire backpack and just want to do yoga
♦Journal/Pens– Write about your adventures so you will never forget them
♦Combo lock– Lock up your stuff at hostels
Seasonal outfits are a must in Europe no matter the time of year as each country has their own unique weather.
♦Two dresses (one winter and one summer)
♦Yoga pants (1)
♦Yoga shorts (1)
♦Cliffs Hiking Boots (1 pair)
♦ Adidas Sneakers (1 pair)
♦Long sleeve shirt (2)
♦Short sleeve shirt (3)
♦Sports Bra (2)
♦Scarf– One silky and one winter
♦Hat (1) – Be careful in high altitudes, it is windy up there!
♦Wool socks (3 pairs)
♦Shower Shoes– Flip Flops or Jelly Shoes
What’s in my hygiene pack?
♦Bobby Pins– I packed 12 pins for two months
♦Q-tips and Qtip Holder
♦Lip Balm (Do not buy or apply SPF lip balm, stick to the norm)
♦Cold Medicine– Pill kind
♦Mini hairbrush (2)
♦Tooth brushes with caps
♦Head and Shoulders shampoo & conditioner
What I had to buy and why-
♦Long sleeve shirts (2)
♦Tank top (1)
♦Ballet Flats (1)
♦Winter Jacket (1)- Paris is cold
♦Shower shoes (1)
♦Sunglasses– My Rey Bans broke and it is still a tragedy
♦Travel size towel
♦Iphone 6– Get a waterproof case
♦Apple Ipad mini 4– To get work done on the road
♦Foldable Keyboard Ipad Case– Get a waterproof one
♦Skype– The best way to call and video chat
♦Whatsapp– Free texting
♦Viber– Same as Skype, which I had as a backup and more friends abroad have Viber than they do Skype
♦Instagram (optional) – To post pictures of the adventures
♦Bank Apps– To budget while traveling and put a travel notice before traveling on all credit/debit cards and accounts
♦Hostelworld– Fastest way to find a hostel if your first option drops out and you can book a reservation on this app.
♦Airbnb– If staying somewhere long-term or a fun weekend getaway. You can book your reservation on this app.
♦Find Friends– An app to show friends/family your exact location of where you are in the world. Only for people you are connected with on this app. I used this as a safety precaution being across the globe on my own.
♦Email– To check into train rides/flights
♦Podcasts (optional) – I downloaded yoga podcasts for at home classes if I wasn’t near a studio and books to read while traveling
Taking Care of YOU & Your Trip:
♦World Nomads Travel Insurance. Travel insurance covers YOU and your TRAVELS. This includes ALL activities you participate in, classes you teach, classes you take, flights, and any health issue that could come up while traveling. The truth is that travel insurance is the way to go because no one wants to end their trip early due to having to go home and pay for an accident that affordable insurance could have covered. So buy World Nomads travel insurance, cover your travels and enjoy your trip!
Hostels I recommend:
♦Abbey Court Hostel– Dublin, Ireland (breakfast, hammock room, and tour of city included)
♦Budget Backpackers– Edinburgh, Scotland (It’s a castle)
♦Euro Hostel– Glasgow, Scotland (Kitchen,TV, Pool Table & area to do yoga)
♦Journey Kings Cross– London, England (Free breakfast & the rooms have dressing room mirrors & lights)
♦International Students House– London, England (free breakfast)
♦The Yellow– Rome, Italy. Fantastic hospitality and AMAZING street view of Rome
♦Eurostar– An expensive, but easy train that travels from country to country. Book in advance to save money and to get a reserved seat, otherwise you are standing for a very long time.
♦The Tram, Lisbon – A fun and affordable way to see Lisbon. They come in yellow and Coca-Cola.
♦Walking– I am a walker and I choose to walk over taking any transportation if I can. This is how I conquer a new city.
Shopping on the cheap:
♦Primark– This is the most AMAZING clothing store in the whole world. It saved my life many times. Everything is under 20 euros/pounds. The clothes are actually cute too. I even went on a shopping spree and got a new wardrobe for under 50 pounds. They also sell name brand travel size hygiene products. This store is one of the reasons I must move to Europe.
♦H&M– I traveled to countries that all have different weather. Last season’s clothes are on sale for under 5 Euros/pounds. They also sell cute, cheap sunglasses.
♦99 Pound Store– Random snacks and hygiene products under 5 pounds.
♦Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Mark&Spencers – Convenient stores that have meal deals for 3 euros/pounds. A sandwich, fruit, and drink. They also have vegetarian options. This was basically my lunch every day and sometimes dinner.
♦Outdoor Markets– Affordable and healthy food.
Accommodation on the cheap-
♦Workaway.info– This is my secret on how I backpacked Europe and taught yoga. Workaway is this amazing website where you can apply to work ANYWHERE in the world. Work is five hours a day in exchange for housing and food. Someday’s I worked more than five hours, but it happens. I did this in Ireland and Wales. In Ireland I was an au pair for three weeks (not the plan). In Wales, I worked at a yoga ashram. These were both sweet deals and I encourage everyone to travel this way. It’s only $40 to make a profile on Workaway. This is kind of crazy, because now that I think about it, I never met these people or had background checks on them. I just relied on our conversations, references on their pages, and the pretty pictures. I would also highly recommend a Skype session before meeting. However, they were both more than wonderful experiences and the people I met changed my life for the better. So for five weeks of my trip I had housing, food, and sometimes even free transportation. Now you know my secret, you are welcome.
♦Hippohelp.com– This is a fantastic website that is new to the travel world! Not only is it FREE to set up a membership, but you can create a one-two person account which is great for traveling solo or with friends! You create your account, put markers on the map with the dates you’re traveling, and it shows you the hosts available for your time of travel. In exchange for housing and meals, you work a few hours every day. This could mean doing what YOU LOVE anywhere around the globe!
♦Befriend hostel roommates, befriend hostel workers, befriend families and their extended family, befriend locals. Just become everyone’s friend and be thankful for everyone you meet on your journey. Lastly, befriend yourself. Why?
Hostel Roommates-You are meeting someone from another part of the world and most likely they are awesome. And they think you are awesome too. You will go on awesome adventures together. You will learn about their culture and they will learn about yours. Another thing I learned, if you introduce yourself to people at your hostel, it means they know that you know them, so they won’t steal your stuff or be an asshole to you. It’s a win win for everyone.
Hostel Workers– They could take you to a really cool pub or tell you about secret, beautiful places of the city you are staying in.
Family– The families I stayed with were pretty great. It was hard at first to adjust to family lifestyles, but I got used to it. My advice is to be kind and open to what they have to teach you. I learned how to cook different kinds of food and I learned about meditation and yoga. I also learned that it’s okay to say no when uncomfortable doing something. I became very independent, more independent than I already was. The families I stayed with also had friends and extended family. In Ireland, Hilda and her family were more than kind to me. They gave me rides to places, invited me over, had me babysit, and showed me their amazing organic garden. The family I stayed with in Wales had a yoga teacher training going on while I was there, as well as various classes throughout the weeks. The yogi in me was beyond thrilled. Say yes to opportunity and the magic will happen!
Locals– My favorite kind of people. Who knows what could happen! I was lucky enough to meet an amazing group of locals in Ireland. They showed me beautiful beaches, took me pub crawling, I was in a music video, I partied all night and then I did it all over again two nights later. We made memories I will never forget. Even if I never see them again, they were part of my happiness and I part of theirs. That’s all that matters.
My family– One should always be friends with their own family. I met and stayed with my beautiful family in Portugal for a week. My family is truly amazing and showed me the time of my life. They took me to places that I probably wouldn’t have found on my own. I tried new foods and explored cities and beaches. I met my adorable little cousins and I met one of my best friends. Yes this is a thing. Family members can be friends with one another. So if you have family somewhere else in the world, reach out to them. I am sure they are just as curious about meeting you, as you are them. Most likely, they will end up being awesome and the coolest people you have ever met. At least mine are.
Yourself– Many people are blown away that I backpacked Europe on my own. Everyone asks where my boyfriend is or says how scary it is to travel alone. To set the record straight, you do not need a boyfriend to backpack Europe. And since when is this a guideline? Traveling alone is much easier, because you can do what you want and do not have to worry about pleasing others or doing what they want to do. You will have plenty of me time to get to know yourself and this is truly important. Whether you like it or not, you will become your best and truest friend. Also, traveling alone is not scary, it is absolutely magnificent and life changing. I highly recommend it to everyone. After two months of traveling, I know and love myself more than I ever thought was possible. So go be your own travel buddy, you may be one awesome mermaid and not even know it yet!
My NYC friends– Thank you all for letting me crash at your places and being there when I needed you most and for supporting me from day one to now. We are soulmates and I love you.
Not having data on my phone for two months. I wanted a detox and did not want to talk to anyone. So I could only access my apps and internet if connected to Wi-Fi. The only reason I call this a mistake is because what if something happened to me in the middle of the night while I was roaming the streets of Paris? Those terrorist attacks happened exactly two weeks to the hour after I was in Paris. Paris was the safest city I was in, while traveling, by the way. So this is not the point of me writing this. Crazy situations can happen ANYWHERE and that could have been me. And if something happened to me, I would have had no way of contacting anyone. I was safe for the entirety of my trip. However, the next time I travel, I’m getting data on my phone for my own peace of mind.
I stayed in co-ed rooms at hostels, I showered in co-ed bathrooms. I went out in groups, but I also went out alone. I asked random strangers ALL THE TIME to take pictures of me and graciously handed them my Iphone to do so. I rode through Rome on a Vespa with a guy I met five minutes before getting on the Vespa. I traveled on trains from country to country alone, in the middle of the night many times. I NEVER slept while on those trains though. For two months abroad I was never once put in danger. I follow my instincts like hell. The moment I ever felt something was off, I left. I truly believe that light is always around me and that the universe is on my side. And if I ever felt that light go out, I put it out to the universe to keep it lit. Put it out to the universe and meet her halfway and LISTEN TO YOURSELF. That is my advice.
I am a planner. I cannot stress how important it is to plan your trip. Before traveling, print out copies of your passport and give a copy to someone you trust with your life and keep one for yourself. Print out every train and flight reservation including boarding pass and tickets. Keep these printed documents separately from your passport and money. Confirm with everyone who you are staying with and the dates you are staying. Keep in contact with at least two people for the entirety of your trip. I kept in contact with my mom in America and my aunt in Portugal. Tell them when you get to a country and when you leave. Also it’s not a bad idea to ask your friends if they have family/friends in countries you are visiting. Send an email of the details of your trip to someone you trust, including the contact info of who you are staying with. The people you are staying with should also have an emergency contact for you. Budget for each country you are staying in and know the conversion rates. Always have extra spending money. Check with your bank if there is a bank they are affiliated with to get free transactions at ATMs. Do not go to the currency exchange booth at the airport. That is a scam. Instead when getting off your flight, go to the ATM and get the amount of money you are planning on spending in that country. Buses/trains from the airports do not accept credit cards so having that cash is necessary. Get your tickets validated, otherwise you get charged more. I kept all of my money in one place, but I watch my bag like a hawk. So if you aren’t like that, then keep it in separate places, god forbid one gets stolen. And don’t put it in your back pocket. Know common sense words for every country you are staying in. It’s polite and you may have a lesser chance at getting the tourist scam price. Carry a copy of your passport with you, unless you are pub crawling. Most pubs only accept passports for ID. So basically just have common sense and do you.
Most importantly, have the time of your life, drink and eat everything, and do whatever you want!
And to finish this post, these are my last words of advice for you: