What to Do INSTEAD OF Backpacking through Europe

As my favorite lifestyle blogger Sarah von Bargen says, what I’m about to tell you is going to be a “potentially unpopular opinion.” So hold on to your PSL, friends. Here goes nothing:

Taking a summer to backpack through Europe is NOT how you should be spending your travel time.

(Cue wild pumpkin spice-induced coughing)

I know. It hurts to hear this. Strapping on an oversize backpack and hoofing it through train stations + hostels in one of our fave continents is the way to cap our adolescent experience, right?

Go out, see the world?

Expand our minds a bit, beyond those hallowed university walls?

Thirty, even twenty years ago? I would’ve said yes. Before smart phones, and selfie sticks, and travel blogs (ahem) and Insta-stories… backpacking through Europe was all about… backpacking.

Seeing new things, sitting in a glorious plaza somewhere with a coffee and a journal, and meeting new friends from all over the world!

And maybe I’m wrong about this, but I doubt our travel forebears set out to conquer Europe at such a breakneck speed as we attempt today. I’ve seen folks post about seeing Europe, and they are literally in a different country EVERY TWO DAYS.

What are they actually “seeing” in that amount of time, I beg of you?

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Backpacking in Europe

How about something a bit different, friends?

Here’s what I’d like to propose, via an amazing podcast I listened to recently: walk.

That’s right. Walk through Europe!

Cassandra Overby was on the Deviate podcast with Rolf Potts (if you don’t know, now you know- Rolf Potts is a travel guru) talking all about “trek-travel” and how to do it in Europe as a way to avoid the typical tourist trail.

Here’s what it entails, at its most basic level:

  • Find a trail that suits your needs/physical capabilities in Cassandra’s book “Explore Europe on Foot”

  • Grab a backpack with some snacks & water, but no need to pack much more (hiking in Europe is wayyyy different than in the states- you’ll pretty much always hit a town or a village to eat + sleep in every night)

  • Grab a friend or a journal (or both!) and get ready to see a different side of Europe

Her book includes the ins and outs of 15 different trails in Europe and northern Africa, and they range anywhere from 1-15 days in length. Totally doable (and memorable!) for a 2-week vacay.

Who’s with me?