Packing all our worldly belongings into a singular backpack and catching a plane to Europe is a time-honored tradition, not for the faint of heart. And Europe has always been a prime spot for backpackers to set off.
Life on the road is exciting, exhilarating, and exhausting. Europe spans over four million miles and backpackers want to see every last inch of it. Thousands of us pick up our backpacks every year and set out on the trip of a lifetime.
However, the experience of backpacking today is much different than it was thirty years ago. Not only has technology changed, but people's attitudes towards other cultures have too.
Today we have solved old backpacking problems while simultaneously creating new ones. No matter what, that does not stop backpackers from traveling far and wide and consuming all Europe has to offer.
20 The Addition of Austria, Finland, and Sweden to the EU
Along with these two countries, Finland and Sweden came with a new terrain for backpackers to explore. In the last 30 years, backpackers have been able to brave the cool (pun intended) and venture into the previously unknown. Well, unknown to Europeans at least. It was about time to learn how to fit a winter jacket into our backpacks.
19 No More Berlin Wall
An actual wall that kept Eastern and Western Germany separate came crashing down. People were free to move and travel between the two sides that were previously closed. This historic event was daily news for backpackers 30 years ago. People would even go and help tear down the concrete barrier before the official demolition.
18 Euros For Everyone
Exchanging money is an annoying hassle. Today backpackers can worry about that less with most of Europe having all accepted a common currency, the euro. Now whether you're slurping spaghetti in Rome or watching windmills in Amsterdam, you can use the same money long enough to know the conversion rate isn't in our favor.
17 The Excuse That You Do Not Have Cash Does Not Cut It Anymore
Technology has made backpacking easier. Having cash on you (hidden in a suitcase and the room you're staying in) is a thing of the past. Unfortunately, aggressive hawkers have changed with the times too. For backpackers politely saying you don't have cash won't stop the card-accepting monger. Let's all practice saying it, "No, Thank You."
16 Seeing Art Through A Selfie
It is not enough to see art, but we must show everyone else how much art we see. Today, we want to visit the most Instagrammable places. Our friends must understand how cultured we are. Seems like we see art more through editing the photos than when standing right in front of it.
15 Limiting The Number of Beds Allowed to Be Sold In Hostels
It seems like everyone these days has travel fever. It is becoming increasingly more difficult for countries to keep up. Today places like Barcelona are actually limiting the number of beds that can be sold to travelers. Backpacking now requires a little more planning, so you better book quick.
14 Need the Time in London? Ask Big Ben
Possibly the most iconic building in England, Big Ben was a must-see for backpackers. Not to mention an enormous clock standing over three hundred feet in the sky is kinda hard to miss. Luckily 30 years ago, everyone read analog clocks, and the only thing keeping you from knowing the time was the clouds.
13 Now, Need the Time in London Ask... A Phone
When backpackers visit Big Ben today, however, the view is a little more… metallic. Having been under construction since 2017, many tourists have been heartbroken to have missed their chance to see history. Fret not, though; construction is meant to stop in 2020, so pack up your backpacks and don't be late.
12 History in Flames
Notre Dame Cathedral is a sight to behold. Disney even made a movie with the cathedral as its setting. Backpackers 30 years ago went to experience this masterpiece in all its glory, but in 2019, this beauty caught flames. While there’s money raised to rebuild it, it begs the question, will it be the same?
11 Travel Agents Need Not Apply
Traveling to Europe is more achievable today. There is no need to pay agents to do the work your smartphone can do. With the help of a Trip Advisor, Yelp and Airbnb, the best European experiences are at the tip of your fingers. With all that money saved, backpackers can finally buy themselves something nice.
10 Everyone's A Model
Did you even backpack through Europe if you don't have a thousand pictures? 30 years ago to take a picture you had to buy film and hope that your photo came out well in one shot. Now, a new profile picture is only a click away... or as many clicks as it takes. We're not counting.
9 Why Get A Taxi If Hitchhiking Is An Option
30 years ago, throwing up a thumb and hoping a kind stranger would pick you up was the cheapest way to travel. Hitchhiking was a great way to save some cash and you could meet really cool people who could give you all the insider secrets about the best places to eat, sightsee, and more.
8 Please Do Not Hitchhike
Today, we all know now that getting into a car with a complete stranger isn't a good idea. Yes, we understand that Ubers and taxis are also strangers, but they're strangers who have signed papers saying they will get us from point A to point B in one piece, and we love them for that.
7 Today, Everyone Needs A Passport
Border Security is much stricter now. Even crossing borders on trains nowadays will add a stamp to your little book. Americans now are required to have a passport to cross the border. If you lose your passport abroad, go to the embassy, but it's also a good idea to carry a photocopy just in case.
6 Get Off the Fountains
There is no sitting on the Trevi Fountain, and if you can't remember, don't worry, the fountain security will loudly blow their whistle to remind you. Every day hundreds of people swarm the fountain. If you have been dreaming of a picture sitting on the edge, try going at night, when there are fewer people (and less security).
5 Leg Room Costs Extra
The influx of people traveling in Europe, combined with the enormous amount of Europeans already living in Europe, makes having room to breathe a thing of the past. Transportation lines are now trying to charge travelers for every possible expense. Ironic that budget travel can add up so quickly.
4 People Are "Russian" To Get There
While a visa is still required to get into Russia since the dissolution of the USSR, more and more people are going to see this beautiful country. 30 years ago past tension with Russia was still fresh in everyone's minds, but times are changing and Europe is too wonderful not to explore every bit possible.
3 There Is No Need To Try Learning The Language
Fumbling through a phrasebook to learn how to ask where the bathroom is was a backpacker's reality 30 years ago. However, now it is more common that whoever you are talking to in Europe also speaks English. Even if they can not, don't fret, translation apps downloadable to your phone work just as well.
2 More People Taking The Year See Europe
Today it’s much easier to leave life behind for a year and see the world. The amount of students taking gap years has skyrocketed. With everything Europe offers, from history to food, is anyone shocked? More young adults are putting down their textbooks and picking up backpacks, and we are all ready to join them.
1 We Are All Trying To Escape The Mundane
Whether you are backpacking now or you backpacked 30 years ago, you are searching. Searching for all that Europe has to offer. Going into the world and making your own adventure. There are places in Europe that need to be seen, and we are going to see them. See you there.