Whether you’re taking a Gap Year before university, or you want to take a break from your job and explore the world, backpacking is a great way to see places in a new light; meet loads of interesting people; maybe do some work as you travel, and pick up some language skills too. However, if you’re planning your first ever backpacking trip, things can be a little daunting. So here are some basic tips for planning your first backpacking trip!
The Travel Basics
If you’re hoping to travel without any worries, don’t forget the essentials, such as backpacker travel insurance and all relevant visas for every country you plan to visit.
It’s also a great idea to pick up a few phrase books. It’s a truism by now, but never underestimate how far a few words in the local tongue will take you. ‘Hello’ and ‘thank you’ can show you’re interested in the people themselves and their culture, rather than just passing through with your camera.
Backpacking is meant to be the most flexible and spontaneous way to travel. However, a little bit of planning never goes amiss.
Pack light, but remember to be prepared for each place you visit. For example, in several countries such as Italy or Morocco, if your arms or legs are bare you won’t get into some stunning religious sites. Make sure you’ve got a long-sleeve shirt and (for women) a long skirt in your backpack.
You’ll be spending a fair amount of time in transit, which makes entertainment especially valuable. Just remember that batteries and chargers aren’t always to hand. A deck of cards and an old-fashioned paper book could be lifesavers. Plus, because they’re not big investments, you can dump them, or even better, swap them along the route without feeling guilty.
Don’t feel you have to bring too many guidebooks. They can be really heavy and photocopies of key pages are just as useful. No matter how zealous you are, it’s doubtful you’re going to get around to doing everything in the book anyway.
Safe and Dry
What else? Bin liners. Not just for laundry, but to protect your backpack and its contents in rainy weather.
Speaking of protection, make sure to squeeze a freshly stocked first aid kit in your pack too. Clean plasters, painkillers, and antibacterial ointments could be difficult to locate while you’re out in rural locations.
The only question left now is where are you going to head first?
photo by Paxson Woelber on flickr