There is nothing more thrilling and invigorating than packing your entire life into a backpack and preparing to take on all the wonderful experiences and lessons that the world has to offer. Whether you’re planning a month of interrailing between the wonders of Europe, are thinking of going further afield to dive deep into the flamboyant South American culture, or you are eager to get stuck into the hustle and bustle of South-East Asia, taking on your first backpacking trip can be a whirlwind of nervous excitement and anticipation. The backpacker lifestyle is filled with freedom, friendship, and fulfilment, and to ease you in, here are 10 tips for your first backpacking trip.
1. Half Your Packing, Double Your Budget
If you’ve never taken on this kind of trip before, it is hard to know what to pack. The golden rule for all backpackers: Half your packing, double your budget. No matter whether you are going for one month or six, you do not need more than a few t-shirts, a couple of pairs of trousers, and two pairs of shoes (flip flops and trainers only – if you’re going somewhere warm!). Take one or two nicer pieces of clothing, just in case, but in general, leave your favourites at home.
2. Stay in Hostels
No matter whether you are travelling solo or with a group of friends, the backpacking life is all about meeting people and making connections, and the best way to do this is by staying in hostels. Hostels are a social hub of people just like you; you meet friends for life by staying in hostels. Plus, they can give you tips and advice on what to do, places to stay and where to eat. And it’s an even bigger bonus if you end up having a new travel buddy.
3. Book One Night and One Night Only
Another golden rule of backpacking: One night and one night only. You don’t know what the hostel is like until you get there and you might want to change where you are staying. Or you could meet some amazing people that are heading somewhere different the next day and you want to go with them. By only booking one night to begin with, you have the security of having somewhere to go when you get there but have the freedom to change your mind and plans without wasting money on unused accommodation. Remember, it is always possible to extend your stay if you want to.
4. Prepare for Long Journeys
Depending on your route, you could be in for some long bus rides, train journeys, or ferry crossings. Being mentally prepared for uncomfortable seating and tight spaces will ease you slightly, and then when it turns out to be comfy and spacious you are pleasantly surprised. Prepare (lots of) snacks, more water than you need, and some light entertainment. Playing online games can be a great way to pass the time on long journeys. Check OnlineCasinos for a list of casinos where you can pay by phone. OnlineCasinos lists bonuses and other useful information, which all helps to pass the time as you travel across continents.
5. Locals Are Your Best Friends
You obviously have to visit all the tourist hotspots, it’s a given as a backpacker. But to really experience how life actually is in a place, you have to follow the locals. Most of the time, locals are eager and willing to show you around to their favourite spots. Make friends with the locals and you will have a truly authentic experience that you will never forget.
6. Expect the Unexpected
Backpacking can lead you into the strangest and most unexpected situations, especially when you end up with local tour guides. But that’s the fun of it. Some of the most memorable moments of your trip will be when you are sitting there thinking what is going on? Embrace the unexpected and have some fun.
7. Be Open but Keep Your Wits
Generally, people are kind and helpful and want to show you the best time in their hometown or country. But whilst you meet the best people and have authentic experiences by following locals, listen to your gut. If you have a feeling that something isn’t quite right, then be sensible. The same goes for belongings. It is rare that anything happens, but it’s always best to take a padlock with you to keep your valuables secure in your accommodation. Keep your phone and wallet in a secure pocket or bag and keep them close. Be open to experience and people, but don’t be careless.
8. Eat Everything (Within Reason)
One of the best parts of travelling is all the different cuisines you get to try. Food all around the world boasts a perfect mash-up of flavours, textures, and ingredients, some of which you may never have even heard of. Some people are wary of street food, and probably for a good reason, but street food is the best food in the world. The atmosphere, the unknown, the intense flavours; street food is a whole experience that you cannot pass up. Plus, it isn’t just bursting with incredible tastes, it is also cheaper than chips.
9. Have a Not Planned Plan
It is good to have a rough idea of where you want to go, what you want to see, and the route you are going to take. Make yourself a bucket list before you go of all the things that you really cannot and do not want to miss so you have something to aim for. But take each day as it comes. New friends might give you new suggestions; you might fall in love with a place (or person) and end up staying somewhere longer or following someone somewhere else. Have a plan but be flexible.
10. Go with the Flow
Take things as they come. Excitement and adventure are awaiting each and every day, but you are bound to have days where you feel a little lost, sick (do not forget that first aid kit and all the pain killers), or things just don’t go as you imagined. But that’s okay, tomorrow could be the best day ever!
Keep these things in mind whilst embarking on your first backpacking adventure and you’ll have the experience of a lifetime. But be careful, once you start, you can’t stop!