Backpacking may sound reckless, unpredictable and even dangerous but it’s definitely something most people decide to do at least once and some even end up liking it so much that backpacking becomes their preferred way of travelling! That’s why I’ve decided to make a list of useful tips for first time backpacking, tips that might even help some of you have a time of their life. So, do take a look at this list of 7 tips for first time backpacking and tell me what you think about them:
1. Choose a Good Backpack
If you can’t afford a good backpack don’t settle for a cheap solution but borrow one instead. Why? Because that very same backpack is going to spend a lot of time on YOUR back and you won’t get far if the straps start digging into your flesh or if your crucial piece of backpacking gear breaks in the middle of nowhere. Restrain your megalomania too, as the biggest backpack usually ends up being the heaviest one too. Average is the perfect size and, once you master the step two of this short tutorial, you’ll know exactly why is that so.
2. Pack like a Pro
As promised, the second of my tips for first-time backpacking will be about the art of packing for a dynamic and often quite unpredictable trip you’re about to take. First of all, you’ll need to assess the conditions you will be living in. Will you be able to wash your clothes? If the answer is no, make sure you have enough clean undies and shirts to change into. Bring medicines you’re not sure you’ll be able to buy where you’re going and definitely bring an insect repellent because these critters will attack you, often even before you reach the nearest pharmacy. Warm piece of clothing is a must even if you’re going to Africa and the same goes for a multi-purpose garment like a sarong. Should I even mention flip flops? Well, I am mentioning them and you definitely don’t want to go too fancy with your choice either as they will mostly serve as a protection from various “bugs” (read: skin conditions waiting to happen) lurking in those often unsanitary places called “shared hostel bathrooms”. No fancy perfumes or glass bottles of any kind, girls- just bring a deodorant and, in case you need something fancier, use a tester in the nearest mall/beauty supply shop.
3. Never Leave Home without a Plan
There is a difference between planning and over-planning, this first one being one of many important tips for first time backpacking and the second one being something you don’t want to do unless you want to end up with a nervous breakdown. Check and book your hostels online so you’ll always have a place to stay in. The same goes for transportation! Knowing the cost of these things in advance is a big plus so if you want to avoid being ripped off just because you’re desperate, you might as well use it. Now, what you do not need to do is try to plan every second of your trip – backpacking is supposed to be fun and spontaneous, remember that!
4. Bring Some Extra Money
Imagine this – you’ve travelled so long, came so far and then a simple thing like a few extra bucks for some entrance fees stops you from seeing all those wonderful things you’ve dreamed of visiting. Now wouldn’t that be a damn shame? You don’t have to splurge on things you don’t really need but bring some extra money with you, just in case you wish to do so or it proves necessary.
5. Keep the Number of Your Backpacking Buddies Minimal
Unless you’re an animal hunting dinner or an animal trying to avoid being dinner, forget travelling in packs. Large group of people can prove to be more than you can handle, especially if somebody you don’t know much, have nothing in common with or don’t get along with is a part of that group. Possible quarrels are not the only thing I have in mind here, in fact, it’s different interests you need to worry about more. Will you get where you need to go or see what you want to see if you have five other people, all trying to drag you to the places THEY want to be at?
6. Use Free Stuff
All the ketchup, mustard, salt, sugar or jam you can eat might not sound very interesting when you’re at home but being miles away from home and trying to have a budget-friendly trip means you’ll have to learn how to use these goodies too. Pack everything you don’t want to eat or use at the moment as you might want to use it later. Some restaurants, fast food chains and coffee shops even offer free wet wipes during the flu season so make sure you take those as well as the regular paper napkins for times when you’re desperate for toilette paper and have nowhere to buy it. Yes, I know this must be the strangest of all tips for first time backpacking but, you know how they say, “Better safe than sorry”.
7. Use Discounts
Google your options and find out which one of many traveler cards works best in the country or countries you’re planning to visit. Euro 26 looks promising to me but it kind of sucks that you have to be 26 or younger to have it. Anyways, I’m sure it’s not the only one or the best one out there so do your homework well and you’ll be able to save a lot on accommodation and transportation and enjoy a lot of budget-friendly shopping, eating out and sightseeing! Ten percent discount might not sound as much but hey, 10% here, 20% there, maybe even 50% at some places and… well… you do the math…
Hope you find these 7 tips for first time backpacking useful, ladies! But, before I wish you a safe and wonderful trip, let me just ask you one thing – What is, in your opinion, crucial for a memorable backpacking experience?
Top Photo Credit: fortherock