how much does a backpacking trip actually cost?


First, let’s identify which kind of backpacking I’m talking about. D and I have taken a couple of backpacking trips where we are actually living out of our backpacks in the wilderness with tents, sleeping bags, and dehydrated meals (read about Yosemite backpacking here). There is a huge difference in what people typically refer to as “backpacking” across Europe and wilderness backpacking. People are not traipsing around Europe while carrying their shelter and food in their pack, but they are traveling around with all their belongings in a backpack. My friend, Mattie, and I went backpacking across multiple countries for three summers in a row. Every year, I would come back and friends would ask the question “how much does something like that cost?” Money can be the cause of so much frustration and ultimately delaying trips because the total cost of a trip like this feels like such an unknown. My goal here is to eliminate some of that fear and unknown and make it feel a little more realistic and plausible. Identifying your budget is the first step, then comes the actual saving and budgeting for your everyday life. Let’s take the first step here!

I estimated these prices based on the types of trips we took that generally match the description of the “backpacking across Europe” expression. Our flights to Europe were around peak travel times (May to Aug) with nightly stays in hostels that were highly rated. We ate out at least once a day and tried to save some money by going to the grocery store every now and again. The experiences aspect is up to you at the end of the day based on the types of activities you like or money you have. One could only partake in free experiences, however I always like some tours or adventuresome activity. Some of my favorite memories include renting Vespas and driving around the Amalfi Coast and white water rafting in Croatia which obviously all cost money. Always give yourself a buffer for unexpected situations.

basic 2 week trip = 13 nights

$1,300 Round Trip Flight

$520 = $40 Hostel per night

$500 Food for eating out and groceries

$250 Bus/train/extra flight to explore another country

$150 = Entry fees (museums, parks, etc.)

$1,000 Experiences

$200 Extra

$3920 Total

Of course trips can be more extravagant or less than a basic one like this, but it is a great starting out point when researching options. Something I did not include was a pack and the extra supplies you will need before going. I bought the Osprey Ariel 65 for backpacking in Europe as well as wilderness backpacking and it has been perfect for all occasions. However, I would highly recommend asking around to borrow a pack from a friend if available. Knowing that purchasing a pack can be a big up-front cost, I have happily loaned my pack to many friends before.

Leave any questions you have below in the comments!