Student Travel in Europe

Whether you are in high school or finding your independence in college, nothing changes your outlook on life or helps you find your identity more than traveling. When you are young the world awaits you. It will take you outside your comfort zone and transform who will become. Those that have traveled the world or even lived outside their own country and experience a different language and culture often never regret one minute of it. You will spend the majority of your adult life working or taking care of your family so there is no better time to explore the world than when you are young. Few places are as easy to travel around for a student as Europe. Rich cultures filled with history are short distances from each other and mass transportation between countries has never been easier.In most cases you can travel from one country to the next, crossing borders and hardly noticing it until you get off the train and find suddenly things look just a little different. In the not so distance past a traveler of Europe would have been required to obtain several different visas pertaining to each country they planned to visit, not to mention having to change currency every time you crossed a border as well. However, with the nearly universal currency throughout Europe now being the Euro and most nations within the E.U. now allowing unrestricted travel across borders, traveling all over Europe is a cinch. As one looks back on one’s life, unrealized dreams are at the top of people’s regrets, so if you dream of backpacking across Europe, there is no better time than now. Here are some tips as well as the ultimate places to explore while you backpack across Europe.What to bring:People often refer to “backpacking” as a means of traveling around an area but what does that mean, after all most people have wheeled suitcases right? If you are planning on exploring more than once city, which lets face it, if you are exploring Europe you’re going to want to see more than once city, wheeling a suitcase could prove to be a mistake. Europe’s oldest cities are truly ancient and they are really the best cities to explore anyway, and they were not built for cars and buses but for pedestrians. There are stone stairs, narrow streets and crowded public transportation. Lugging a wheeled suitcase up the Spanish Steps in Rome will be more than a backache. Good backpacks designed for hiking should fit comfortably and allow for much more freedom of movement. You can easily hop on and off a crowded metro or bus at rush hour, traverse any kind of terrain your feet can journey across, and skip the crowds trying to shove their luggage on trains. Even a driver is much more likely to give you a lift if you just have a simple backpack with you.Now packing for a long trek could prove to be a head scratcher. You’ll want to pack light enough that you aren’t weighed down but loads of clothes but also have enough to last you. If you do plan on being there for longer than a week, seriously recommended, consider finding laundry facilities whenever you stop. Many hostels offer laundry, though you may have to pay a small fee but it would be worth every penny. If your accommodations don’t have a laundry room, consider switching to one that does or ask the clerks where you can find a Laundromat. This will keep your bag light and your smell a little friendlier.Other items to bring are comfortable shoes for hiking around and maybe one extra if you plan on enjoying some restaurants or nightlife. Bring travel size toiletries for places that don’t provide any and keep in mind that Europe does have drug stores similar to the U.S where you can find most items you may need. Band-Aids are essential as walking might create blisters, Swiss army knife, q-tips, calling cards, numbers to U.S Embassies in the cities you plan on visiting, sunscreen, chap stick, medicines, phone chargers are also a must. Don’t bother with travel guides, most hostels will provide them for you and they just take up space. Leave room for souvenirs you might pick up along the way as well. Wait until you arrive in Europe to buy a converter for your phone charger or things like hair dryers since most of the ones you’ll buy in the U.S don’t typically work in Europe anyway.Where to Go:It all depends on how long you plan on traveling. If you are limited to a week to 10 days, you’ll want to hit the high notes. Dublin or Edinburgh, London, and Rome, and/or Paris will be about all you can squeeze in and they are really the best ones to see in a short amount of time. In these major cities you can find a wealth of nice, clean hostels that cater to youths and students. The staff is typically younger as well so they can suggest the best night life clubs and bars to enjoy as well.If you have more time, perhaps two weeks to a month, you have much more time to enjoy and explore. No matter how long you intend to stay, travel by train to the major cities but with more time, you can make more stops in between. Try adding Amsterdam, Brussels, Madrid, Berlin, Barcelona or Prague to your list. With more time, perhaps a few months, you can stop at ancient medieval villages, take time to relax on warm beaches or include some outdoor adventure. Talk to locals even if you don’t speak the language. The smaller the village the less likely they are to speak English but the friendly they will most likely be.No matter what time of year you go or how long you stay, try to go slow down and take stock in where you are. The scenery, the city, the noise, the food, cherish all of it. It will not only look good on college transcripts and job applications, but it’s good for the soul as well.