Why easy overland travel makes Europe a top choice for first time backpackers
There’s a lot of chat about ‘green travel’ nowadays and backpacking does have an edge in this arena – at least when it comes to travelling across Europe and other similarly well-connected regions. Backpackers have a natural affinity with travelling overland – buses, trains, boats and bicycles tend to be cheaper than flights and they also allow you to take in more of the region you are exploring. And, of course, opting for overland travel helps to minimise your carbon footprint in comparison with shooting between stop offs on gas guzzling aeroplanes.
Europe lends itself well to overland backpacking trips because of its geographical outlay and the excellent range of well-organised land and sea-based transport on offer. For this reason, multi-destination backing trips in Europe have long been a favourite with travellers new to backpacking ways. Great transport links between the likes of France and Germany make it possible to travel the length and breadth of the whole continent in a matter of days and with special railcards and travel bookable easily and quickly online, there’s the real possibility of travelling where the wind – or TGV – takes you, with minimum risk. If you fancy ditching your boarding card and taking in plenty of landscape views, you could purchase an InterRail travel card.
Europe is particularly good for those who wish to travel overland by multiple modes of transport. There’s a good ferry timetable (see here) that carries you across the channel and you can hop on and off the TGV in France with your bike (which you can secure safely on a rack at a cost of around £10). Of course, if you want to head off track, you may have to ditch public transport completely and rely on the backpacker’s friendly combination of legs plus bicycle. Eurovelo is a project set up by the European Cyclists’ Federation that aims to connect the whole continent using tested cycle routes that can be found online here. If you’d prefer some guidance on your travels, there are plenty of groups specialising in the provision of both cycling holidays and walking holidays in the region. Check out diverse cycling offerings from specialists, Saddle Skedaddle and have a look at a good range of walking wonders here.
Europe may not offer as much cultural diversity as a backpacking trip across Asia, but it certainly compares favourably on the sheer convenience and ease of travel overland: you’d be hard pushed to find space for your bicycle on a Viatnamese sleeper train. So, if you’re a newbie to backpacking or an activity holiday enthusiast, Europe is definitely a good place to start.