Consider this your action plan for traveling Europe for cheap, for an extended period of time.
Follow these suggestions and you’ll find yourself in France, Germany, or anywhere else in Europe, enjoying the sunlight, the wonderful people, and the beautiful surroundings.
1. Eliminate your anchors
An anchor is something that keeps you attached to one place. This could be a job, a career, an apartment, a relationship, or any other obligation.
In order to stay in Europe for an extended period of time, you must first eliminate, get rid of, and remove any “things” that demand that you return.
If you have a dog, a cat, or another animal, give it away to someone.
If you are in a relationship with someone, tell them they need to go with you, in order to keep the relationship going. You’ll find that traveling together is an incredible bonding experience. Traveling is a way to build memories, especially since it can provide challenges.
Traveling presents so many beautiful moments because when you travel, you put yourself out there and when you do that, almost anything can happen. Before you travel and even while you are traveling, be sure to maintain a positive happy attitude, no matter what.
Find someone to travel with. Having someone to share the experience with, especially talking to them at the end of the day, is truly comforting.
If you have a mortgage and monthly payments on a house, rent it out, or better yet, sell it.
If you have an apartment, talk to your landlord about your plan to travel overseas and ask for your first, last and security deposit back. If he declines your request, quit paying rent in order to get it back.
In short, you have got to eliminate any anchors, including jobs, that are keeping you in your current place–your house, your apartment, your town, your city.
Once you get rid of stuff in your life that is holding you down, the freedom and lightness you feel will enable you to travel with less baggage, both mental and physical baggage. Traveling light opens doors of opportunity to new people, places, situations.
2. Be open to the adventure
Once you set the date for travel to Europe, your friends, neighbors, acquaintances will, eventually, find out what you’re doing. Although most people will be excited for you, there may be some who are negative, dismissing your antics as those of someone trying to run away from responsibility.
“You can’t just run away to France.”
“What are you going to do? Be a poet in Paris?”
“Do you even speak German?”
“They don’t like Americans.”
“It sounds romantic working on a farm in France. Yeah, just wait until you get
In order to over ride the forecasts of negativity mentioned by well-meaning friends, you must be open to the adventure that, even if your trip does have moments of struggle, at least you are having those moments of struggle in Europe–a place where you’re surrounded by beautiful architecture, a rich history, interesting and friendly people, and situations that will, quite literally, change the way you look at the world.
The naysayers and others who comment negatively about your trip? Just ignore them or laugh at their comments. Do not let their negativity affect you in any way.
Behind their sarcasm, they are jealous and they wish they had the courage to travel like you are going to do.
3. Set a date for departure
Set a date when you will leave, 2 months in advance. This will give you time to prepare an itinerary (schedule), routes (map), and places to stay.
4. Schedule your trip one way
Whether you are flying or taking a cruise, take the trip one way. By doing this, you are not obligated to return on a certain date. This allows room for possibilities for extended travel as well as eliminating the obligatory return date.
5. Plan your gear
Plan what you are going to take. Basically, you are going to need high quality clothing and gear. Most of these items can be found at speciality shops or online.
Buy quality clothing.
It’s better that you take one comfortable T-shirt, made of quality materials, than 3-in-a-pack, bleached out 100% cotton T-shirts that are cheap and itchy.
If you want a warm jacket, find a good one with an outter shell that is waterproof and an inner lining that is lightweight and warm, with a material like capilene or fleece. You can find high quality clothing online at the following websites.
Avoid 100% cotton clothing
When buying clothing, particularly underwear, socks, and T-shirts, do not buy 100% cotton, as it retains moisture. When you’re in cold weather and you’re wearing a cotton T-shirt beneath layers of clothes and you sweat, the moisture freezes on the cotton and you end up shivering, even though you are wearing layers.
Instead of cotton, purchase materials that are synthetic, like a 50% polyester, 50% cotton, a blend of polyester and nylon, or better yet, a material that is 100% nylon. Even though you are likely to pay more, the material is more comfortable, drys faster, and will keep you warmer.
Minimize your gear, get high quality gear
When you travel, it’s critical to be minimalist, to live with less. In order to do this, take a small amount of hight quality gear.
Essentially, you will need these items:
comfortable sneakers (I recommend New Balance as they are lightweight and durable)
t-shirt (poly-cotton blend – H&M)
good socks (micro wool)
3 pairs of underwear (poly-cotton blend)
toilet paper (smushed, in ziploc bags)
laptop (get a MacBook Pro – durable)
digital camera (rechargeable, in which you plug in recharger) Do not bring one that uses batteries, as it eats up battery juice, and it’s a hassle to buy batteries every few days.
warm jacket (capilene or microwool or synthetic shell with fleece inside – lightweight; get a high quality, durable, warm jacket, avoid cotton, as it holds moisture; buy synthetic–nylon, polyester, micro-wool; better to pay $75-$150 on a good jacket that’s lightweight than to have to tote around a bulky jacket that does not serve its purpose of keeping you warm)
book or magazine to read
money to convert to euros
copy of passport in ziploc bag
flashdrive (USB drive) with scanned copies of passport
pepper spray, taser, knife
6. Download a Free Phone App
WhatsApp, Viber, Google Talk, Facebook Messenger, Skype
Download Phone apps – premium and free
For about $15 a month, Skype has a European plan where you can to and from from France, Germany, and the United States. It’s a good deal. If you bring your cell phone to Europe, switch out your SIM card. Your local cell phone dealer will be able to do this for you, for free or a small fee.
If you want to go free, you can try GoogleTalk and there’s probably other free plans as well, but I’ve found Skype to be both affordable, convenient, and reliable.
7. Plan your trip itinerary using the following websites:
This website enables travelers to get free room (place to sleep) and board (food) in exchange for working at farms 4-6 hours a day. At this site, you’ll see links to other WWOOF sites, like http://www.wwoof.fr (France) and http://www.wwoof.de (Germany). Each site charges an annual fee of $25 – $30
You will save thousands of dollars in hotel fees. I did. You can, too. How? By using http://www.couchsurfing.org
This website allows travelers to connect with people who will allow you to stay on their couch or in their room, in their house or apartment. Typically, couchsurfers stay for 2-3 days. Although the website is free to join, a $25 donation helps to offset costs and enables you to get a certified status, as a mailer is sent to your address so you’re seen as a real person. You can use this website to host travelers or to find couches and beds to sleep on while you are traveling.
Use this website to plan your travel schedule and determine how you will get from place to place. It’s great for hitchhiking, buses, and trains.
Petrol (gas) can be expensive in Europe, so carpooling, also known as ride sharing, is a nice alternative. Once you set up an account at this website, you can e-mail people who are offering rides or even post a rideshare of your own. Either way, you save money on gas.
Europe’s travel website for rail journeys (trains). Get familiar with this site.
Original stories, travel tips and road culture fo hitchhikers, backpackers and modern nomads. Features highway routes, road maps, safety advice, legal advice, photos.
The hitchhiker’s guide to hitchhiking
8. Sell 90% of what you own
See #1 “Eliminate your anchors”. This is what you need to do. Pretend your house or condo is going to be hit with a flood or some disaster and you have to leave in 3 minutes and you can only take what will fit into your backpack.
You’ll proably want your laptop, laptop cord, digital camera with rechargeable battery, some clothes, passport, flashlight, knife. That’s about all you’ll need when traveling Europe or anywhere else.
Or maybe you’ll just want your laptop and your smartphone and chargers for each, along with a warm-weather, lightweight jacket and a comfortable pair of sneakers.
Trust me. I traveled in France for three months and in Germany for one month, with my girlfriend, and that was basically all she had in her backpack. After the first few days, I started reducing my gear by selling it and leaving it behind and it was not missed.
Traveling to another country is something anyone can do if they are willing to minimize their belongings and plan a schedule. Staying in that country for a longer period of time means eliminating anchors before leaving.
If you do travel for an extended period of time, you’ll find that a lot of people say the same thing: I’m so jealous. I want to go.
The sad fact is that they’re not willing to eliminate their anchors in order to go, so they stay where they are.
Action eliminates fear.
– Carrie Snyder
When you look at what people own, most people are paying rent for a storage shed or a place to store their furniture, decorations, and clothes.
If they could reduce what they own to a hiking backpack, which most people can do but are afraid to do for some reason (maybe they are afraid of freedom?), they would be able to experience a freedom that would enable them to travel to another country for months.
Traveling is simple. Follow the 8 steps listed above. You can do it.