Contact theSOPAbout theSOPSupport theSOPWritersEditorsManaging Editors
theSOP logo
Published:October 14th, 2006 12:30 EST
Tis the season to travel Europe

Tis the season to travel Europe

By Inactive Writer

This time of year, Europe is bursting with young minds desperate for a break from intense post-secondary training who seek adventure in Europe to see in real life things they have only glimpsed in text books all semester. But anyone well-travelled through the many cobbled stone streets of the old countries will tell you that in between an Italian woman kindly offering you dinner in her Tuscan villa, and the French guy buying you coffee and a rose in a cafe in Montemarte, you are really just scraping between meeting points and train schedules. The imporatant thing to know is that what really lies in waiting is what you make out of it.

After three weeks of not sleeping before 4 a.m. and waking to the sound of the toilet flushing just on the other side of the wall in your 16 bed hostel room, the romance has long gone out the window, along with your Scandinavian roommates freshly sink-washed underwear (not to mention it was from the same sink you brushed your teeth last night) trying to dry in what appears to be eternal rain.

All too often, the months of perfect planning and precautionary preperation are lost on the exhaustion which is backpacking. The trek from train station to bus station to hostel is often too long for a 50 lb, Gore-tex backpack. In these situations, one must not over look a few, very key, items of importance in order to simply enjoy what could be a life changing experience.

PACK LIGHT. No matter how hard mom or grandma try to stuff those four pairs of wool socks into your already full pack, say NO. One or two will be enough. You can always budget for another pair along the way should one fall victim to wear and tear. Pack only what you need, and roll, roll, roll! The efficiency of the roll technique should not go un-noticed. Rolling clothing and towels not only saves on crumpled looking attire, it saves on space. For those with more vanity needs, be prepared to sacrifice some toilettres, after all - showering in hostels will inevitably cause frizzed, flat, un-ruly hair, so why bother?

READ YOUR BOOKS. Travel books written by seasoned back-packers are the golden ticket to a successful, fulfilling European experience. They have gone the road less travelled, and have come back to share their experiences. Tips on safe travel, health management, money worries, logistics and secret tricks of the trade can all be found within the pages of a good back-packer guide book. Read, front to back, and pay attention to details! Having a thought-out, budgeted plan will always be a good start, but knowing the ins and outs of the process will always save on troubles that may arise along the way.

If anything else should be said, just be on guard for what may come around the corner. Having a light hearted, adventuristic attitude will always produce a more interesting and exciting trip, as opposed to a perfectly planned trip that goes totally off schedule and down the loo. Enjoy the moment. Sometimes that means just putting the camera and the itineray aside and watching the scenery go by.

Note that this article was originally contributed by a writer who is no longer affiliated with theSOP.