Always wanted to go on an exciting backpacking adventure around Europe, but don’t know where to start? Think ‘interrail’ is just an anagram of ‘trilinear’? Can’t tell your Ecolines from your Eurolines? You need this series of blogs.
LESSON 1: Work out your budget.
There’s no point planning an 8-week, 4* hotel-packed road trip around Scandinavia if you’ve only got £500 in the bank. Ask yourself how much you can sensibly afford (and still have contingency funds at home if anything goes wrong) and where you want to go to work out how long you can spend there.
Let’s say you have £1,000 to spend. This figure will get you:
2 weeks in Scandinavia (assuming you want to eat in restaurants, see things and do things rather than just moping in your room because everything is so expensive). Norway is most expensive, but none of the countries are cheap.
3 weeks doing the interrail route (a circuit involving at least 4 of: France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Italy), assuming you balance out your time in France and Italy with time in Hungary and Poland. Although Germany is far more expensive than neighbouring Poland, Berlin is unprecedentedly cheap considering it’s a capital city of a major Western country – a legacy from its Eastern German Commie days, presumably.
3-4 weeks in the Baltics… but you might get bored. (Two weeks is more than enough to see the main cities and attractions.) Estonia is the most expensive of the three, while Lithuania is artificially cheap for now, as it only switched its currency to the Euro in January 2015.
5 weeks in the Balkans. You can eat out twice a day, stay in 90%+ Hostelworld-rated hostels, and go on tours for this. Slovenia and Croatia are the most expensive countries, while Macedonia and Bosnia are particularly cheap.
Additionally, if you’re planning to go with a friend, your costs will almost certainly be higher than if you fly solo. Friends mean compromise, whether it’s on activities, food, prices or transport – so