“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”– Mark Twain(The Innocents Abroad)
I’ve never thought of myself as someone who would fall in love with traveling. And as of now, I still don’t consider myself a traveler. I’d rather call myself an enthusiast. However, I do know one thing that I love literature from the bottom of my heart. I love those books who’ve time and again transported me to distant lands, beyond the walls of reality. And that too free of cost from the comfort of my couch. Those writers whose words spoke to me about about romantic places, allowing my wild imagination to fly away on their verses and phrases.
Almost an year ago, I remember picking up this Bill Bryson book at a local bookstore. It’s called ‘Neither Here Nor There’. Now for those who haven’t read any of Bryson’s works, this one’s based on his rather satirical and funny experiences when he traveled across Europe. I enjoyed the book. Bryson might come across as cynical in his views but it’s all okay as long as he’s funny.
Be it Ernest Hemingway describing the streets of Spain in ‘The Sun Also Rises’ or John Steinbeck taking you on a long drive to California via Highway 66 in ‘The Grapes of Wrath’, I’ve always wondered as to how these writers come up with such beautiful descriptive passages. What is it that inspires them to pour out such elegant prose on paper? And that’s when I decided out of the blue (like most of my life decisions) that I’ll visiting the lands of these literary geniuses. It was 5th September 2017 and I had just turned 22. I have this weird thing where I make resolutions on birthdays instead of doing it on New Year’s eve. And so, I took out my usual notebook and scribbled in my shabby cursive handwriting; “Backpack to Europe. Visit Franz Kafka’s birthplace.”
Long story short, that’s how I came up with this idea that I want to travel to Franz Kafka’s birthplace. i.e. Prague. Now before I bore you to death with my endless balderdash about how I love literature and books, let me get started with how I planned this entire thing and all my fascinating experiences in what was my first ever solo trip. I’ve covered three major cities, viz. Berlin (Germany), Prague (Czech Republic) and Budapest (Hungary).
So, this is going to be sort of like my travel blog where I’ll be sharing all my wonderful experiences while I backpacked across eastern Europe. Okay, let’s get started!
So to begin with, here’s a rather basic checklist that you need before you venture on your very own backpacking adventure –
Backpack to Europe: The Initial Checklist
- An itinerary – Just so you plan your vacation time wisely. I’m more about flexibility but sometimes planning a bit helps a lot. I’d advise you to prepare a rough itinerary that you can use as a base for all your further planning.
- Documentation – Your VISA, Passport, Aadhar Card, PAN Card and all those necessary formalities. You need to prove you’re not an alien and that you’re a valid citizen of this same planet.
- Money – I’m not a huge fan of capitalism but well, truth be told life is not as romantic as an Imtiaz Ali movie. And you’re neither Ranbir Kapoor nor Deepika Padukone. So you just can’t teleport away to Europe. You need to save at least some decent amount of money before you head out on your vacation. Don’t worry, I’ll share some tips on how I sold my soul and saved up for this backpacking trip.
- A Backpack -Your backpack is going to be your portable home in which you’ll carry all your belongings. So it’s better if you know what you need to carry along and what isn’t required.
- A Camera– These days, our smartphone cameras are well on par with DSLRs in terms of picture quality. But if you’re more of an adventure junkie, I’d recommend carrying an action camera. Perhaps a GoPro or SJCam. Whatever floats your boat.
- A Kindle/Book – I carried both because I was afraid given my rather introverted nature, if I fail to make any friends there, I’d have to find solace in my books.
- A Diary – As Oscar Wilde has said, “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in train.” So I carried a small diary with me and use to note down random shit in it at the end of the day. It helps me generate drafts for my future writings.
Anyway, I think that would be it. I believe in minimalism and so these are the basic things that need to be taken care of before you head out on your backpacking vacation. Also, I’ll be elaborating in detail on all the aforementioned pointers soon in a series of separate blog posts. And I intend to publish them every weekend (hopefully)! So stay tuned and do let me know all your queries in the comments section below or you can get in touch with me for any inquiries through the Contact page.
Leaving you here with a picture that I had clicked in Berlin (U-Bahn). I don’t have the slightest idea of what is a good photograph as my photography skills are still amateurish. But I really like this one.
Anyway folks, see you soon. Till then, adios amigos!