Where & When to Travel in Europe
Summer is a busy time to travel in Europe but for many it is also the best. The days are longer, the weather is warmer and attractions are open later. Backpackers will find more hostels open and a wider variety of accommodation on offer. But there is also higher demand for popular hostels and reservations are needed for certain cities to ensure a bed (check the city section for where to reserve ahead).
You will find August to be the most crowded month as this is when Europeans take their vacations. If you find yourself traveling in August, avoid the major tourist traps and where possible stick to smaller towns and villages.
What kind of trip best suits you?
Do you like action and adventure? Or do you prefer strolling the halls of museums and galleries? No matter what cities you aim to visit, there will be a mixture of activities to choose from. Research the cities and learn what they have to offer. Certain destinations may be havens for snowboarding but have little in the way for opera aficionados.
If you decide to travel with others, remember that this can put a strain on your friendship. Traveling together may be very different from your day to day experiences. Getting lost in a foreign city and missing your connecting train can make tempers flair.
Make sure you and your traveling partners have similar aims for the trip. The best way to do this is by planning together before you leave. Compare your goals and learn what interests your friends most about their trip.
Traveling in a group does have its benefits. A quad room is cheaper than a triple and a triple is cheaper than a double- you get the idea.
Even if you decide to go it alone, don't worry. Backpackers are a friendly bunch and you will soon meet new people as you travel.
Mad Dash or Slow Explore?
While many will find it less than ideal traveling through 8 or 9 countries in a space of 30 days, it can be a perfect way to discover what areas of Europe you like and where you would want to go back to in the future. If time is limited and you want to see as much as you can, brace yourself and think of it as a scouting trip.
If you know you only want to visit 1 or 2 countries and really explore, this can save you some money. Rail passes are cheaper if used with in 1 country or zone.
Create an Itinerary
While some may laugh at a carefully planned itinerary it is important to be prepared on your first trip to Europe. No matter what, your movements are not set in stone but it pays to have a general idea of where and how you would like to get where you are going.
However you plan your itinerary, make sure it is feasible. Just because you can travel every night by train and save on accommodation- Do you really want to? Remember you are there to experience Europe not just see it. Don't try to over do it as you will burn out and not fully enjoy your time.