Adventure Travel

How To Backpack Through Europe With Hilton Grand Vacations

A grown-up’s guide to the ultimate European excursion

The Vacationeer
View of colorful buildings on the coast in Amalfi, Italy

Backpacking Europe is a rite of passage for many travelers. For some, this involves massive packs covered in patches, cheap meals and quick stays in hostels. But visiting multiple European destinations in two- or three-week chunks can be possible for more than a 20 year old. If you're beyond the life stage of shower flip-flops and bunk beds, you can still plan a budget-friendly backpacking getaway but with a bit more comfort.

Here are five tips on how to have one of the best European vacations of your life — without the grit of traditional backpacking.

A suitcase being packed for vacation 

1. Pack Light

A grubby backpack isn't required, but it's worth investing in a sturdy bag you can carry without relying on a porter. Look for a lightweight spinner suitcase that can easily be lifted onto train platforms and carried up stairs. Using carry-on bags cuts costs from airline baggage fees and also helps you move efficiently through cities. 

While packing, choose items that will help you blend in. Solid colors are ideal for mixing and matching. You don't need an outfit for every day; select pieces you can wear multiple ways, adding accessories as required. Comfortable clothing is also a must for long flights and train rides. 

If you're staying at a Hilton Grand Vacations resort, you'll have access to laundry facilities in your Suite or on site. That way, you can pack even lighter and wash clothes as often as needed.

2. Plan Your Itinerary

A two-week trip will allow you plenty of time to dive into three or four cities. There are hundreds of possible routes depending on your interests. The Mediterranean and Adriatic coastlines of Spain, Italy and Portugal are perfect for sun-seekers. Explore England, Scotland and France for famous architecture and history.

Getting around by train instead of flying can be a way to save money and see more of the continent's beautiful landscapes. It may take longer to get from point A to point B, but the scenery is unmatched. Rail passes are available for multiple destinations, and you can upgrade to first class for added comfort.

A table set for lunch with a view of Tuscany, Italy 

3. Embrace European-Style Dining

One of the best parts of backpacking Europe is indulging in the incredible food — but dining out for every meal can get expensive. There are ways to eat on a budget without resorting to instant ramen. Many of Europe's traditional cuisines do not include a heavy breakfast, so find a local cafe or patisserie to indulge in the local customs and save a bit of money.

Save the large meal for lunchtime. Not only is lunch more affordable than dinner, but you may also have quite a stretch in between the two meals. In many Spanish cities, for example, it's customary to wait until 10 p.m. to sit down to dinner.

Hilton Grand Vacations Suites include a kitchen, allowing you to shop at a local market and stock up on fresh produce, cheese or meats to hold you over. Tapas are another great way to experience European dining culture in smaller, less expensive portions.

4. Go Sightseeing For A Fraction Of The Cost

Free museums like London's Tate Britain offer a great way to explore Europe's cultural elements. Research museums and tourist attractions to see which ones have discounted admission after a certain time of day, during the off-peak season or with discount cards. Look for free cultural events like outdoor concerts and exhibits. Sometimes, there are also free walking tours that provide in-depth history lessons without the outright cost — just remember to tip your guide for their time.

The resort exterior and pool at Vilamoura, a Hilton Grand Vacations Club, in Portugal 

5. Stay Like A Local

Hostels may have been how to backpack Europe in your teens or early twenties. Hilton Grand Vacations offers plenty of adult-preferred alternatives that provide a similarly local experience — plus plenty of recreational spaces to mingle and exchange tips with other travelers. Enjoy resorts such as:

For everywhere else in Europe, stay within the Hilton portfolio of brands, another perk of vacation ownership with Hilton Grand Vacations. Read how one HGV Owner used this perk on her European adventure.


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The Vacationeer

The Vacationeer is a collective of Hilton Grand Vacations storytellers whose goal is to inspire travelers to go further. We're always on the lookout for new destinations to explore, useful travel tips, and unique ideas to help you plan the most memorable vacations possible.

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