The brilliance of backpacking


The brilliance of backpacking

If you think that backpacking is just for students, think again. Why not book an impromptu break to relive your youth? Or, if you missed out the first time round, experience the freedom of independent international travel. We asked backpacking expert, Grace Roome, for her top tips.

Summer is fast approaching and with the sunny season drawing in, the panic of having nothing planned this summer starts to sink in. Is it there yet? Have you just been hit by a wave of worry that you have previously tried to push to the back of your mind and bury away. I have well and truly been there many times. In fact it was exactly this time last year I was sat in bed with the same feeling - I could almost hear the summer bells ringing; I condensed my belongings into a backpack and hit the road jack!

Whether it is for two weeks, six weeks or maybe even a few months, if you want to go travelling this summer, Europe has it all. For me it is true to say out of all the adventures and wonderful places I have been to, the best time I have had was when I spent my time backpacking across Europe. It was this summer break where I made the fondest travel memories and where I shared the most giggles. Through backpacking you meet the most amazing people, you learn so much about yourself, the culture, historical facts of the places you visit and the way in which people live so differently to one another, no two places you go to will ever be the same.

I made a bucket list and I made sure I crossed them all off along the way. I have trekked to many amazing destinations and seen some astonishing things but yet never explored one which was right on my own doorstep. I went to find out for myself if the Nessie legends were true. Yes Scotland! Whether you want to hike around the Scottish highlands, visit Edinburgh Castle, have a day at the stunning beaches in Aberdeen or head to Scotland’s largest city – Glasgow. Scotland provided a good glass of scotch which most definitely put hairs on my chest. Scotland has it all; with three large cities, spectacular golf courses and at the very least eat some haggis (and let us know what you think of it when you do!).

Bon Paris! I think it would have been very wrong if I backpacked around Europe and never stopped off at Paris. The French capital is very cheesy, very smoochy, and it has to be said scaling the Eiffel Tower is a must to do in your life time. On my summer backpacking adventure Paris did in fact do it for me, it is true what they say you can’t help but fall in love in Paris (or with Paris in my case). It is famous for its luxurious shops, astonishing historic architecture and French cuisine (oh those crepes and pancakes mm mmm) Paris does in fact have something for anyone! Discover the flea markets and visit the Mona Lisa. Paris was one of the most amazing cities I visited on our backpacking adventure.

When in Germany I soon learnt that mostly everyone walks around with a cigarette in their hand. I also learnt not to be so stereotypical in thinking all Germans wear lederhosen’s. However yes they do all stereotypically love to drink beer by the litre. Oh Hamburg what a marvellous place, I learnt a few German words (Guten Tag und Bier) and I met some hilarious, wonderful German people. The Elbe river boat was something I will never forget as hilariously unfunny it was for my poor experience of sea sickness (terrible with boats me) I surprisingly came off of the boat and loved it! I had too many distractions to remember to feel unwell, it was beautiful and with the sun shining I got to take in the wonderful attractions.

I remember coming into the kitchen in the German hostel I stayed at and was greeted with most amazing plate of German meats; sausages, curry wurst and I made the pact with myself that it would be my mission to find a German market or restaurant that sold the same delicious cuisine as I had in Hamburg.

In Verona I enjoyed navigating through Romeo and Juliet’s love story, finding myself lost in paradise and exploring more of the city than I thought I originally would.  I soon learnt the locals didn’t use cars, and if they did they drove a micro vehicle. Verona fed my appetite for fine wine and if you’re like me and love to wine and dine then Verona is the place you will have the most enjoyable nights sitting in the warm air and drinking wine that you may have made yourself.

These really are only a few of the most amazing places I have travelled to around Europe but if I sat and wrote about every  place I went to in those astounding three weeks, well… you would be here all day!

Personally I believe that backpacking should be an experience included on everyone’s bucket list. And with each of these cities easily accessible from Southampton Airport, I think your summer will be appealing and hard to beat.