Do you like to immerse yourself in the culture of other countries and areas of the world? What about experiencing nature and the raw land around you?
If that sounds like you, then you should consider backpacking as your main form of travel. Backpacking across different areas of the world will put you on the ground with local people, experiencing the land and the culture in a way that’s impossible holed up in fancy resorts and hotels.
Backpacking overseas can be a bit daunting, though. Between different forms of money, navigating foreign languages, and being without some of our favorite creature comforts, it’s definitely a form of travel that takes planning and research.
Lucky for you, we’ve got a list of 5 backpacking tips that will make your trip as smooth and enjoyable as possible.
1. Pack Your Bag… Then Get Rid of Half of the Stuff You Packed
Your instinct might be to cram an extra large size backpack with every single thing you would bring on a classic trip: 10 pairs of pants, even more shirts, a bathing suit, a hair dryer, soap, 20 pairs of socks, multiple pairs of shoes, etc.
But, remember, it’s called backpacking for a reason. You’re going to have to carry around that backpack wherever you go. If it’s 100 pounds, you’re going to be miserable.
And the fact is, most of the stuff you pack you don’t need.
So pack your bag how you think you should. Then go through everything and get rid of at least half of the stuff. You don’t need 10 different outfits. A couple pairs of pants and a few shirts are plenty.
And if you nix something you turn out you need desperately, you can always buy it at a later date. You’ll thank yourself later for traveling light.
2. Make a Plan (But Don’t Over Plan)
You should map out your route before you leave, that much is obvious. Perhaps you want to plan your trip city by city. Or maybe you would rather identify certain festivals or events that you plan your backpacking route around.
But be careful not to over plan. Part of the fun of backpacking is the adventure and spontaneity. Create an itinerary that allows you to stay on a good schedule while also letting you take the time to explore and find adventure.
3. Create a Budget
Yes, backpacking is a fun and freeing adventure. This can lead to a lot of overspending if you’re not careful.
Craft a budget that includes your flights, supplies, food, and activities. Be sure to stay within your budget at each stop along the way so you don’t run out of funds before you get to your final destination.
You might have to save up and get frugal on your trip in order to afford everything you want to do and see. Consider supplementing your budget with jobs available specifically to backpackers.
These jobs can be anything from working on farms you pass to helping clean hostels you stay in. Learn more about jobs available to backpackers to add some cash to your vacation fund.
4. Have an Emergency Kit
This point is perhaps especially important if you’re planning on backpacking solo. What if your wallet, phone, and credit cards are stolen? Or you’re attacked? What about if you’re injured camping?
Compile a simple emergency kit so you’re protected if disaster strikes.
Most people nowadays don’t carry cash around, but backpackers can’t depend on plastic only to get them through. What if your card is stolen? Or perhaps your card gets declined by your bank because it sees the overseas charge as suspicious?
You’ll have no way of getting money to pay for food, shelter, or anything else. Keeping 100 dollars (or euros or whatever form of money used in the place you’re going!) on you in cash will ensure you’re not stuck with no funds.
First Aid Kit
Many backpackers choose to camp out in order to save money. While this is a common practice, prepare for the worst with a first aid kit.
You could hurt yourself living and hiking outside, so make sure you have a first aid kit to bandage or treat minor injuries.
Our phones are our lifelines, especially when traveling overseas. They can put you in contact with help, an embassy, your bank back home, a GPS, information on local hostels/restaurants, language translation apps, and more.
If your phone dies, it could be impossible for you to communicate, find where you’re going, or get in contact with anybody. A portable charger will help keep your device charged so you can stay safe and connected.
Don’t let yourself get stuck in a foreign country without any way to communicate. What if you need help or information and no one speaks your language?
You can’t always depend on your phone. Technology can fail. It can get stolen. You could drop it in a stream.
Carry a book with you that gives you simple phrases in other languages so you can have a way to communicate with locals.
5. Don’t Forget Where (and When!) You’re Going
The weather and climate where you live are probably going to be drastically different from where you are now. Keep this in mind when you travel overseas so you know what to pack and what type of weather to expect.
And remember: the seasons are switched when you go to a different hemisphere. July in Eastern Europe would be considered summer, while July in Chile would be considered the dead of winter.
Try These Backpacking Tips on Your Next Adventure!
Backpacking is a unique and fun way to travel. Whether you go alone or with a group, you’ll have an experience you’ll never forget.
These 5 backpacking tips will help you navigate backpacking abroad. But if there’s one tip that all backpackers need it’s this: do your research.
Start with our travel tips and branch out to the specific area you’re traveling to.