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With the cost of everything soaring, the last thing anyone needs when they’re backpacking around Europe is to be hit with hefty data roaming charges that can leave a big hole in your wallet. But many Brits are still unaware that they’re racking up huge mobile bills when abroad, leaving them outraged when they get back home and discover they’ve been unknowingly clocking up data charges as they travelled.

Since Britain left the European Union, most mobile networks stopped providing free roaming in EU countries, which allow their citizens to make calls and use mobile data at no additional cost while in member states. But Brits may not know that when they’re in an EU nation and using data for such things as maps and messaging that they’re incurring charges that could add up to large sums.

According to a survey commissioned by mobile network Lebara UK, some Brits are paying up to £1,000 in roaming charges while on holiday in the EU. As many as one-third of British people holidaying in places like France, Spain and Italy were paying such enormous bills that were mostly made up of roaming charges, the survey found.

Other destinations where Brits were holidaying when they were being charged for mobile data roaming included Germany, Greece and Croatia. Respondents to the survey, carried out by OnePoll in early August and involving 2,000 people, also visited the Netherlands, Poland and Portugal.

What’s All the Roaming About?

When you’re backpacking around Europe, in towns and cities you don’t know, the most essential tool is right there in your pocket — allowing you to easily find hotels, bars, restaurants and clubs, and snap all the sights as you go. Sharing picturesque images with pals on social media is another must-do while abroad, making them green with envy that you’re on your travels in exciting places while they’re stuck at home.

So it’s no surprise that almost half of survey respondents (44%) said they used mobile data for social media use in EU countries — posting pics to Instagram, TikTok and other online platforms to keep their followers updated. A total of 42% of those who took part in the poll said they used mobile data for maps, so they could quickly locate the places they wanted to be. Others (28%) streamed music on their mobile devices; 20% used mobile data for gaming; and 16% were looking for love while abroad — not in pubs and clubs but via dating apps.

Avoiding Big Roaming Charges in the EU

Before you head overseas on your next big trip, check with your mobile network provider to see if free roaming in the EU is included in your package, or if there are extra charges. Even if you have to pay more, small sums can quickly add up when you’re downloading, streaming, scrolling or searching on your phone.

For those unlucky enough to have no free EU roaming, they may want to consider getting a SIM-only deal before they head away. These are available in the UK from networks like Lebara and they don’t tie you into any contracts and provide the amount of EU data roaming you’re likely to need.

So when you get to your destination, swap out your usual SIM for your new one, giving you the freedom to roam like home. You can then enjoy your holiday without the worry of clocking up data charges as you travel and being landed with a massive bill when you get back that would certainly ruin the happy memories of those carefree European days.

Have you always wanted to visit Europe but don’t have the budget for accommodation costs? Not to worry, you may want to consider applying for jobs that offer free accommodation in exchange for work across Europe

There are plenty of options to find a steady job along with safe and clean digs in various parts of Europe. To help you understand more about the process, here are examples of how to work in exchange for free accommodation in Europe. 

Become a Petsitter

Combine your love of animals with your love of travel and become a Trusted Housesitter.

Combine your love of animals with your love of travel and become a Trusted Housesitter.

All across Europe, there are plenty of people looking for trustworthy housesitters to watch their pets in exchange for staying at their homes for free. Trusted Housesitters is the pet-sitting network for animal lovers who are responsible, reliable, and looking for a fantastic way to travel around Europe while staying for free.

You can find everything, from a chic apartment in Barcelona to a beach house in Portugal. A basic petsitter account costs just $129 for unlimited housesits anywhere in the world, and considering how expensive accommodation can be in Europe, it’s well worth it.

Work on an Organic Farm

Spend the grape harvest season on a vineyard in Europe

Spend the grape harvest season on a vineyard in Europe

If you love the outdoors, this is the perfect opportunity for you. Work on various agricultural projects in exchange for accommodation with World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF).

On the organization’s website, you will find plenty of volunteer roles across Europe. You could be fruit picking in Spain, or working on an organic vineyard in Italy, and getting room and board for free.

Work in Hospitality

Get free accommodation in exchange for working in hospitality

Get free accommodation in exchange for working in the hospitality sector in Europe

Another great way to earn and live while traveling in Europe is to find a job in the hospitality sector. Europe’s hospitality sector is a huge industry, so you’re bound to find a role that suits you. Popular tourist hospitality jobs include housekeepers, bar staff, waitresses/waiters, chefs, and more. This could include working in a hostel as a live-in staff member who takes on the role of a receptionist or even a hostel manager. 

Especially in the spring and summer months in Europe, there are a variety of seaside and lake and holiday camps that hire seasonal workers. These jobs typically offer fair pay along with free accommodation in a cosy cabin or even a quirky tepee. 

Become a Nanny or Au Pair

Get free accommodation in exchange for working in childcare

Get free accommodation in exchange for working in childcare

Another popular way to enjoy Europe without worrying about accommodation costs is by becoming a nanny or au pair. Most nanny jobs are live-in, which means you may end up staying in a lavish penthouse in Paris or even a villa in Italy and get a taste for the rich lifestyle.

As a nanny or Au Pair working in Europe, you may also be offered a wage that you can use to fund the rest of your travels. You may also be given a daily allowance typically put towards food and other miscellaneous costs for both you and the children you are caring for. Your main responsibilities will happen during the week, leaving your weekends free to explore Europe.

Other ways to get free accommodation in Europe

We’ve outlined just a few of the main ways that people can find free accommodation in exchange for working in Europe. If you’re still searching for that great opportunity, you can look through the opportunities listed on Worldpackers

You’ll find everything from childcare jobs, to personal assistant jobs, to charitable volunteer opportunities. A membership is a one-time cost of $49 giving you access to tons of opportunities to work in exchange for free accommodation. Worldpackers is great for solo travelers in Europe because of their host verification process, insurance policy, and huge community network. Use my promo code BACKPACKING10 for 10% off your membership fee.

Getting a visa to work in Europe for free accommodation

When applying for any of these positions, remember to consider your visa eligibility. Before entering Europe or staying for an extended period of time, you may need a B-1 or J-1 Visa, even if you are not paid for your services. Before completing your application, you should speak with a visa specialist or the program leaders.

Are you ready to get down in the dirt at an Italian winery? Or become a nanny to a generous Parisian family? Without breaking the bank, you can have the time of your life no matter what venture you choose. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to start researching and preparing for your Europe trip!

Being able to travel and see different countries is an amazing experience. You can learn so much about culture and people by going on holiday and exploring the cities.

One popular place to visit is France as the country is so diverse and offers so many different holiday opportunities. Before you visit a country for the first time, it is always a good idea to do some research and find out a little bit about the country. This gives you a good guideline to work with and it can help you make the most out of your experience.

In this article, we are going to be talking specifically about France, so if you are planning to visit the country soon, then keep on reading to find out our top tips.

Be Prepared

One of the first things you should do before you travel to France is to make a plan. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to make a detailed itinerary or have your whole holiday meticulously planned, but it would be a good idea to have a basic guideline of the things you would like to do.

France is a place that has so much to offer, so depending on what sort of holiday you are after, there are different places to visit. If you are wanting a sunny, beach holiday, then we recommend visiting the south of France as it offers such a wide variety of beaches that you can relax on.

However, if a beach holiday isn’t something you are after, then you can always go for a city break in Paris, or embrace the slopes and go skiing, which we will discuss below.

Go Skiing

As mentioned above, if you are travelling to France for your holidays, then going skiing could be a great opportunity to make the most of your holiday. If you are an adrenaline junkie, then a skiing holiday in France is definitely the right option for you.

In terms of where to ski in France, you have a few options available. Chamonix, Avoriaz, and La Tania are all great places to go whether you are a beginner skier or advanced. If you have never skied before but have always wanted to try it, then France would be a good place to go as you can enjoy some gorgeous views while you ski down the mountain. All resorts in France will offer you induction courses too, so you can learn the basics before you start.

Live Like A Local

Mingle with the locals at a French market

Mingle with the locals at a French market

Another good way to make the most of your holiday in France is to simply live like a local. Being a tourist anywhere in the world can be a little daunting, so the best way to enjoy your holiday is to embrace the culture and live like a local.

This is why it is so important to do your research before you go to France as this will help you learn a bit more about the culture and the customs. Different countries will have different ways of living, so if you want to properly fit in and feel comfortable in the country, then you will need to take some time and do some research to find out how you can live like a local.

Learn Some Language Basics

When visiting any country, it is a good idea if you learn some language basics beforehand. While English is spoken all over France, it would still be polite if you knew some basic words and phrases, so that you can ask for things or respond to people in a polite manner.

No one will expect you to be fluent in the language, but it can make a huge difference if you can ask for a drink in French or just simply say ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’. The great thing about learning a language in the modern age, is that there are so many helpful apps available that can teach you the basics beforehand. A lot of the apps may have translators too, so you can use the app while you are exploring.

Explore The History

Explore the history of France with interesting sites like the Catacombs

Explore the history of France with interesting sites like the Catacombs

France is a country that is rich in history, so if you are planning to travel there and you enjoy learning about history, then you should take the time to explore some of its most historic sites. The catacombs in Paris are one of the most popular historical sites to visit as there is still so much mystery surrounding them.

If you want to get the full experience, you can book a 45-minute tour that shows you all of the gruesome and grisly details of the catacombs. This tour is definitely not for the faint-hearted, but if you are into to the macabre, then it could be the perfect way to spend an afternoon in Paris.

The French Alps are spectacular at any time of the year and the region is fantastic for tourists who want to ski, relax, or just take in the incredible scenery. As the largest mountain range in Europe, the Alps spans an impressive 750 miles and borders eight countries: France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Lichtenstein, Monaco, Germany, and Slovenia. When it comes to holidaying in the French Alps, there are lots of things for visitors to see and do. Here are our picks of the best things to do in the French Alps.

Sightsee in Haute-Savoie

Like a lot of tourist spots in the French Alps, this region in the east of France has many resorts for skiing and snowboarding. But there is a lot more to Haute-Savoie than just winter sports.

Aiguille du Midi offers awe-inspiring panoramic views and is home to the mountaineering capital of Chamonix. As well as breathtaking mountain views, Chamonix has Europe’s highest cable car.

View of Chamonix Valley from La Flegere

View of Chamonix Valley from La Flégère in the French Alps

For visitors interested in art and culture, Flaine is a resort to the north of the region that features open-air sculptures by Pablo Picasso and Jean Dubuffet.

To the southeast is the picturesque town of Annecy, which looks straight out of a chocolate box. This pretty little town, considered to be the Alps’ own  ‘Little Venice’ overlooks Lake Annecy and the Thiou River and is famous for its canals, cobbled streets, and pastel-coloured buildings. There is also an art and natural history museum in the Chateau d’Annecy, the historic home of Genevan counts.

Annency - the Venice of the Alps

Annency – the Venice of the Alps

Ski in Tignes

You can’t visit the French Alps and not try skiing at least once. Whether you’re a seasoned skier or a complete beginner, our top pick of the pistes is Tignes. This high-altitude commune in the Tarentaise Valley of the French Alps is situated near the Italian border and boasts the longest ski season in Europe.

Tignes consists of a collection of little villages, all varying in what they offer in terms of skiing facilities. Whilst the rough terrain further up the resort valley is more suited to experienced skiers, the main town has lots of options for beginners and those of intermediate level.

A Tignes resort town nestled in the stunning French Alps

A Tignes resort town nestled in the stunning French Alps

There are easier runs further down the valley towards Tignes-Les-Brevieres and the area benefits from the installation of chair lifts and good ease of access links.

However, before you book a resort in the area, it’s a good idea to have a good look at a Tignes piste map to establish exactly where in the valley is most suited to your skiing skills.

Regardless of where you go in Tignes though, there’s one thing you can certainly be sure of – there is lots to keep you entertained after a long day on the slopes. Tignes has some of the best après-ski nightlife in the Alps, with its lively bars and clubs, many of which are open until the early hours.

Relax at the Lakes

If you need some relaxation after a day on the pistes, or you just want to be pampered, then the French Alps are abundant with spas and thermal pools.

Lake Geneva, which borders France and Switzerland, has some of the most serene and luxury spas to indulge in. On the shores of this stunning lake is the spa town of Evian-les-Bains, which is world-famous for its natural springs of mineral water.

View of Lake Geneva from the Lavaux

View of Lake Geneva from the Lavaux

Just over the Swiss border is Leukerbad, another spa town renowned for its hot springs. The history of Leukerbad’s springs and their therapeutic effect on the body dates back to Roman times. Today, the town’s mineral waters are enjoyed in public baths, private spa hotels, wellbeing and rehabilitation centres, and more.

Enjoy the thermal pools of Leukerbad nestled in the Alps

Enjoy the thermal pools of Leukerbad nestled in the Alps

Conclusion

With its striking scenery, ski slopes, picturesque towns, and therapeutic thermal springs, there are so many things to do in the French Alps. If you’re taking a holiday there, be sure to check out the places we’ve recommended.

Best things to do in the French Alps

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Are you planning your first European backpacking travel adventure? Packing for a trip can be exciting but stressful, especially if you don’t know what to bring. Whether you’re going for a week or for an entire summer, there are a few backpacking Europe essentials for your packing list. To help you get started, take a look at our backpacking Europe checklist, which will ensure you have everything you need for your trip. 

1. The Right Backpack

The right backpacking can make or break your trip. A backpack that’s too big can make traveling uncomfortable, while a backpack that’s too small won’t allow you to fit all your belongings in it. 

When backpacking Europe, you won’t want to bring a large, rolling suitcase. European cities were built before the age of elevators, which means that you’ll be walking lots of stairs. When navigating the metro, the old buildings, and the hotels, you’ll be happy to be able to take the stairs instead of lugging around an unwieldy backpack.

When it comes to essentials for your backpacking Europe packing list, it’s best to bring a carry-on sized backpack to avoid baggage fees on budget airlines.

Backpacking backpacks come in sizes based on the liter volume that they can carry. A 30-40 liter bag is comparable to a carry-on size suitcase, while a bag that’s 50-65 liters will be too big to take with you as a carry on.

Make sure you choose a bag that fits comfortably on your body. If you’re visiting a store, the employees will be more than happy to help you select a few bags that are suited to your body size. 

If you’re looking for the best backpack for backpacking Europe, the Osprey brand has some great all-rounder backpacks. Osprey is the go-to essential Europe backpacking option and fits most people comfortably. 

2. Day bag

When you’re taking a day trip or going on a hike, you won’t want to bring your huge backpack with you. Leave most of your items locked safely at your accommodation and take along a day bag. Your best bet would be to purchase a foldable daypack that can fit into your bigger backpack.

It will need to fit essentials such as money, a snack, water, and maybe a change of clothes, so it shouldn’t be too big or bulky.

3. Padlocks

Padlocks are a quick, convenient, and inexpensive way to secure your bags and hostel lockers. When assembling your backpacking Europe essentials for your packing list, a small item like this can be a lifesaver! You can also use your luggage lock on your backpack during travel days, ensuring all your belongings are safe, including your passport.

4. Universal travel adapter

Your Europe backpacking packing list should include a universal travel adapter, which will work for your phone charger or any other electronic devices. 

The outlets in continental Europe use the same 2-pronged plug, but if you’re traveling in the UK and Ireland, you’ll need a different 3-pronged system. Rather than taking multiple chargers with you, a multifunctional adapter will do. 

5. Camera

The best travel camera for backpacking europe

Your phone camera is sufficient for everyday life, but backpacking around the world is an incredible experience that you will never want to forget!

Your travel photos will prove invaluable once you return from your epic journey, so be sure to capture all the incredible things you encounter along the way. Bring a camera that not only takes great pictures but also fits easily into your backpack.

These days, the majority of cameras are equipped with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi capabilities, so they can be transmitted easily to your laptop or phone to post them online.

You may wish to bring a high-tech DSLR camera to take stunning photographs. For some, a more compact point-and-shoot camera will suffice, and will fit in a day pack without taking up much space.

If you want to take your backpacking adventures to the next level, then consider bringing along a GoPro, which will accompany you everywhere from underwater adventures to skydiving during your European backpacking adventures.

6. Travel towel

Your essential backpacking Europe packing list should include a quick-drying travel towel, since you will be moving from hostel to hostel as you backpack between cities. My favorite travel towel is a Turkish towel which is quick to dry and easy to fit in your backpack. You can also use the towel as a privacy screen if you secure a bottom bunk in a hostel.

7. Power Bank

A power bank is one of the essentials on my backpacking Europe packing list, for multiple reasons. While traveling, you’ll be using your phone much more than normal – for navigation, taking photos, videos, or researching travel tips. On days like this, you’ll want to have a backup battery for your phone. 

I’ve also relied on my power bank during long travel journeys when I use my phone and want to make sure I have enough juice to find my way to the next destination.

8. Change purse

Reliance on physical money is surprisingly still pretty high throughout Europe. Plus, having lots of €1 and €2 Euro coins is a good idea if you want to leave behind tips or donate to street musicians that you’ll see on your trip. 

9. The right shoes

For your backpacking Europe packing list, don’t forget to throw in a pair of rubber sandals for the hostel showers. You should also bring a pair of comfortable but stylish walking shoes. Some nightlife spots will require a certain dress code, but you can get away with leather-style sneakers. And women can get away with stylish looking flats that are secretly super comfortable.

10. Hostel survival kit

If you’ll be staying in hostels, don’t forget these 4 backpacking Europe essentials. We call it the hostel survival kit:

11. The Best Apps for Backpacking Europe

The Best Apps for Backpacking Europe

And lastly, before heading off for your European backpacking adventure, you should load up your phone with a few essential apps that will make backpacking Europe a breeze.

Apps to book transportation from place to place

Given the relatively compact size of Europe, you can travel between major cities by train or bus. There are a few useful apps for European transportation that can help make sure you find the best deal while sticking to your schedule.

  • Omio – compare trains, buses, and flight options in Europe and travel using mobile tickets
  • Trainline – a popular app in the UK to find train and bus tickets 
  • Flixbus – a long-distance bus company that is a favorite mode of travel for budget backpackers
  • Kiwi – a flight search comparison site that helps you find the lowest prices
  • Skyscanner – another classic flight search website that has powerful flexible search options

Apps for Finding Accommodation in Europe

Apps to book discounted activities and Skip the Line tickets

Apps to stay in touch with friends and family back home

If you don’t want to change to an international mobile plan, you can use these apps over free public WiFi to stay in touch with people back home.