How I backpacked comfortably across Western Europe for 50 days in under 3,500 USD/3100 Euros — inclusive flight tickets

  1. My flight into Europe and out of Europe (I flew into Athens and flew out of Amsterdam)
  2. My route(Athens-Santorini-Napoli-Rome-Florence-Cinque Terre-Paris-Nice-Porto-Lisbon-Seville-Granada-Madrid-Barcelona-Amsterdam)
  3. My stay (mostly in hostels-They went beyond my expectations-more on this, below)
  1. I met 2 guys from Togo, an underdeveloped African nation, who are software engineers in one of the biggest software companies now settled in Paris. They send back 10% of their monthly income to their parents in Togo which is enough for them to live a lavish life.
  2. I also remember my conversation with a retired granddad from Canada who wanted to start hostels back in his city. He was staying 2–3 days in the big cities of Italy as a part of him primary research and data gathering.
  3. I spoke in length with a 23 year old freelance nurse who lives in a caravan and tours hospitals and care centers in North Carolina tending to patients and earning more than enough to rent a swanky house but likes her caravan life way too much to let it go.
  1. High in cleanliness- This was priority since I was traveling for a long time. Hygeine was the last thing I wanted to compromise on,
  2. Located in city center- You might pay 3–5 euros more per night for hostels in the center of the city but it’s worth the premium. Hostels in the center are usually safe, well positioned that you can walk to most tourist attractions (money saved that you’d have otherwise spent on Ubers), are very close to the best/highly recommended restaurants.
  3. Characterized by friendly staff- Hostel receptions and staff are your best friends. They give you the lower bed if you ask sweetly, they are mostly locals who know the best places in town. Most of my days would involve walking to the reception of the hostel asking them to help me plan my day. The kind of recommendations I get from staff in minutes is something I would have not gotten even if I spent hours on the internet. Above all, everyone likes to be treated well. Courteous staff is a definite criteria.
  1. Free walking tours– Most hostels have a tie up with tour guides which offer free walking tours. Helpful to book a day in advance and it’s one of the most economical and better ways to get a download on the history and see the very important and historic sites.
  2. Food– I would also spend a good amount of time and effort on food-delicacies, must visit restaurants etc.. Most of my money went on food and I have no regrets.
  3. Read and write– After a point, all the churches started to look the same and so did the museums ( I did my share of geeking out and have nothing against museums but I realized that I enjoy the arts in doses). I am more a nature kind of person so I seeked out open parks, amphi theaters and spots by the water that allowed me to read and journal while snacking and sipping on the side.
  4. Run-. I thought it was a great Another thing I did was run in every city that I visited (it’s been a dream to run a 5k in every country of the world and with this trip, I just got started). The first thing I would try to do in each city that I reached was drop my bag off and go run (preferably find a spot close to the water/lake/ocean)With all the sugar and fat that I was eating, the running helped me avoid being sluggish and kept me at a decent level of fitness and enthusiasm to make every day memorable.
  1. Limit the planning to big expenses (flights, inter city travel and accommodation)- It’s impossible and also a bad idea to plan every day of the travel. Also, it takes away the fun of serendipitious encounters, tagging along with fellow backpackers and just having the necessary ‘me time’
  2. Travel light– Most things we take in our bags can be done without. It’s helpful to make a list of the ‘absolutely necessary’ and not approach packing with the ‘what if I need this’ approach. It’s dangerous. If you are carrying more than 15 kilos, you need to repack!
  3. More days, less cities– If I had to do this all over again, I would lose 2–3 cities from my plan and instead spend more time in fewer cities. The first 2 days always go in doing the touristy stuff. You start feeling the vibe, character and authenticity of the city in day 3 and 4 and it doubles up to be more intense in the days after. I remember spending 5 days in Napoli and I loved it! 3 days in Paris was a RUSH.

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Perpetually beta. More at www.ashwinchhabria.com

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Ashwin Chhabria

Ashwin Chhabria

Perpetually beta. More at www.ashwinchhabria.com

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