How to have a backpacking adventure in two weeks
Guest Blog by Amy Keenan who went backpacking over the summer but could only afford to go for two weeks due to work commitments and money etc. She still had an amazing time and has written this piece to help others do as much as you can in Europe in two weeks.
Backpacking across Europe is an amazing experience, one that can change you and create memories to cherish for a long time after you step back on home soil. Each country is individual in culture and lifestyle, and each will offer you something completely different to the last.
A common misconception with backpacking is that it is only for students and women out to ‘find themselves’, but over the past few years more and more women are putting their annual leave to good use and going on two week backpacking adventures. I did just that over the summer and spent the best fortnight of my life making my way from London to Zagreb with all my essentials on my back and an out-of-date travel book in my hand.
Preparing for the Journey
If you only have two weeks then you want to make the most of everyday so it pays to be prepared. You shouldn’t plan all of your activities beforehand because half the fun of backpacking is the spontaneity, but you should have a rough idea of the countries you want to visit and the route you plan to take.
The two most important things to have prepared before you begin your journey is an InterRail pass (travelling by train is the easiest way to get around Europe) and your first night’s accommodation (a guaranteed place to put your head down after a long day travelling is priceless).
There are some essentials that you will need when travelling. The obvious items are baby wipes, dry shampoo and cereal bars – all of which are invaluable when you’re on a train without a shower or restaurant.
Other essentials, which may seem obvious but are easily overlooked (as I unfortunately discovered), are:
- A diary – to record all of the amazing experiences you encounter along the way
- A phrase book for each country – the locals will appreciate the effort
- A towel – it will be useful when you least expect it
- A waterproof jacket – if you are planning to visit England in the summer, this will be an essential item!
Countries to Visit
Realistically, in two weeks you’re not going to be able to see more than four countries – especially when you factor in time for travelling. It depends what you are hoping to achieve from your trip: do you want to experience the European culture or just have a fun holiday?
Eastern Europe is filled with countries that have rich cultures and are, by and large, less populated with (somewhat annoying) tourists. Western Europe can be overlooked though. People assume there is nothing exciting or different to encounter here but I found the well known countries, that aren’t usually associated as holiday destinations, to be very interesting.
My top five places would be:
Germany – a country steeped in history (good and bad) that has some must-see landmarks and awe inspiring castles. I recommend Berlin and Neuschwanstein Castle, but there are many more.
- Holland – a country that can be dismissed by most travellers without an interest in herbs, but legality of certain drugs aside, this country has the friendliest people I encountered and the best ‘backpacking vibe’. Highly recommend Flying Pig Hostels and Bob’s Youth Hostel in Amsterdam if you want to stay somewhere with a community atmosphere.
- Croatia – if you want sea and sun but want to avoid the thousands of English tourists in Spain, then Croatia is your best bet. General spending won’t be much because everything is ridiculously cheap and even the capital has a laid back atmosphere. Plitvice Lakes are amazing and definitely worth seeing.
- Hungary – this country will surprise you and is very different from the above. It doesn’t have a large backpacking scene so some people may be put off by the added effort, but it will give you a great taste of Eastern Europe. There are some great bars and outdoor nightclubs in the capital – like Cafe Rio and Zold Pardon.
- England – not just royalty and red buses, England has much more to offer. There is a great backpacking scene in Bristol, good nightlife in Liverpool and some great English pubs in every city along the way. I recommend Camden Town (London) for a taste of the culture and Chatsworth House for the history.
If you’re determined to have a holiday to remember and you research your destinations beforehand, then you should be able to achieve a backpacking adventure in two weeks. I hope I have shown you that backpacking can now be enjoyed by all – even those with a full-time job. I managed to see four amazing countries, visit landmarks I’d always wished to see and meet interesting people: all within two weeks. I have to be honest and admit that backpacking requires more energy to organise than a week all inclusive at the beach, but it can be much more rewarding than your average summer holiday.
I urge you to step out of your comfort zone and do it! You only live once… Amy
Links I found Helpful:
- Neuschwanstein Castle, Gemany
- Flying Pig Hostels, Holland
- Bob’s Youth Hostel, Holland
- Plitvice Lakes, Hungary
- Cafe Rio Hungary
- Zold Pardon Hungary
- Camden Town, England
- Chatsworth House, England
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