After backpacking in Europe for 6 weeks, I can say it’s life-changing at the very least. I came back with a desire to travel more, to see every corner of the world, to experience as many cultures as I can. 16 countries in 42 days is no easy feat, but it was a whirlwind of highs and lows. I learned more in those 42 days than I ever thought I’d learn in my lifetime, and although there’s more I’d like to say than I can even put into words, I’ve compiled a short list of tips and insights for you future backpackers, from lodging to food to life:
1. You’ll meet people from all around the world, people who have vastly different experiences than you, people who have been traveling for months, people who have the same itinerary as you. Embrace it. Learn from them and make friends as you go.
2. But you’ll also get lonely. It takes a lot to give up your old life, to leave behind your old friends and pack your entire life into a single backpack. Take time to reconnect with your family once in awhile or to meet up with the ones you love if possible. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing your friend walk towards you in a foreign country.
3. Choose your travel companions wisely. Hint: if you don’t know them that well to begin with, you’ll either end up becoming best friends or wanting to kill each other. And if you do travel with your best friend(s), be aware that spending literally 24/7 with someone is a lot of time.
4. Travel by yourself for a little. It’s comforting to be in a group, to know that someone is there wherever you go. But being by yourself allows you to soak everything up, to leave you alone with your thoughts for awhile, to allow you to take things at your own pace and to marvel at the city as long or as short as you’d like. It’s scary, true, but also something that should be done.