Science has spoken, and according to it, going on at least one or two vacations yearly can extend your life. In fact, women who do have eight times lower likelihood of getting a heart attack or heart disease! It’s the same for men, with a study discovering vacations can reduce their risk of heart disease by up to 46%.
Americans have caught this good news too, as they went on more vacations in 2017 than the past seven years. In 2017, the number of vacation leaves taken averaged 17.2 days.
So, if you’ve always wanted to learn how to backpack your way through your bucket list, now’s the best time!
In this post, you’ll learn not only what to put in your rucksack, but how to keep it — and its contents — safe and secure.
Ready to be a master backpacker? Let’s get right into it then!
Backpacking Safety Must-Dos
As a newbie to backpacking, your belongings’ security is only second to your own safety. You can always buy clothes and electronics, but you only have one life. So, keep yourself safe and secure during all your travels with these must-dos (and don’ts).
Get a Travel Insurance Policy
Never travel — especially outside of the country — without travel insurance. It may not save your life in a literal sense, but it’s your ticket to getting medical help during an emergency. Hopefully, you won’t need medical attention while traveling, but it’s best you’re prepared.
Drive and Ride Safe
Helmet and seat belt laws may not be as stringent in other parts of the world, but that doesn’t give you a free pass. Especially if you’ll drive or ride after a few (or more) drinks.
Don’t Bring the Flashy Stuff
There’s no reason to don yourself with jewelry if you’re going backpacking. In fact, it kind of defeats the purpose of backpacking – traveling on a budget. Don’t flash the cash too, as this will only put the wrong kind of attention on you.
Divide the Cash
Don’t carry your money, cards, or traveler’s cheque in a single container. Otherwise, you’d lose all your funding sources if you encountered a pickpocket. Only bring enough cash and one credit card when heading out, leave the rest in a secure locker or safe.
If you have PayPal, it’s a good idea to have some funds in it too, for emergencies. Have at least two ATMs as well, so in case one gets eaten by a machine, you have a back-up.
“When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do”
That applies to anywhere, not only Rome. You want to “blend in” or appear like a local, so act like one (as much as you can). The world is full of lovely people, but it still has its share of not-so-likable folks. Looking like an obvious tourist can make them flock to you.
Pack a First-Aid Kit
Again, I hope you never find yourself with serious injuries, but it’s better if you travel prepared. Particularly if your backpacking adventures involve trekking or hiking. You’re unlikely to find medical supplies in the wild, so bring your own.
Have some antiseptic wash, bandages, pain relievers, and antibiotics in your kit. Tweezers (for all those painful and annoying splinters) are also a great idea.
Tell Loved Ones Where You’re Going
Never fail to check in when you’re going on a backpacking trip. Be it your mom, dad, siblings, or friend, someone knowing where you are can be a life-saver. Especially if you’re going on a hike where there’s no signal.
How to Backpack Right: Choose a Top-Notch Backpack First
You need a decent and durable container to house all your clothes, essentials, and travel gear in. Unless you’re only going on a two-day weekend getaway, it should be big and sturdy enough to hold all your stuff.
So, start by checking out travel gear shops specializing in cargo or hiking backpacks. Here are some of the key features to consider as you shop for one.
Proportionate to Your Body Weight
A loaded pack shouldn’t exceed 20% of your body weight. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, your backpack should weigh 30 pounds or less. This health rule of thumb applies to situations wherein you’ll need to carry the bag for hours.
Room Inside the Bag
What if you’re like most travelers who’ll leave the rest of their stuff at their hotels or hostels? The main feature to look for is the bag’s capacity.
Backpacks come in liter measurements, with most ranging from 30 to 80 (or more) liters. 30- to 50-liter packs are good for holding up to three days’ worth of clothes and essentials.
For 3- to 5-day trips, packs with 50- to 80- liter capacity can do the trick. They’re also ideal for weekend camping essentials, including clothes, food, and a first-aid kit.
For extended trips (five days or more), you’ll find backpacks with a capacity of 70 liters or more. This is enough to hold a week’s worth of clothes and other gear. Don’t worry about packing too few clothes — you’ll find laundromats all over the world.
Comfortable and Ergonomic
It’s vital to choose a backpack with comfort and ergonomic features, or you can end up in pain. Some 50 million people in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain, particularly back, neck, and shoulder pain. You may end up one of them if you carry heavy loads on your back without ergonomic considerations.
Go for a backpack that has extra cushioning and padding features. Today’s best packs also come with ventilation, so you don’t get too hot and sweaty. Wider straps with quality padding also offer better neck, shoulder, and back support.
Organization Features for Even Loads
Experts say that come 2020, 50% of the U.S. workforce will be remote employees. Awesome news, because this means you have the chance to become a digital nomad yourself. You can earn a living to actually live and enjoy.
For that, you need a backpack that can hold all your tech gear, from laptops to headsets. There are even some who travel with an extra computer screen stowed in their backpacks!
That’s why you need a pack that’s easy to organize, with plenty of compartments. Not only will these help you find things faster — they’ll also ensure even spreading of the load. This balance will protect your neck down to your back from aches and sores.
Backpack Safety and Security Features
The average American household owns 13 Internet-connected devices. You may not bring all while traveling, but you’ll likely have your laptop and smartphone with you. That means your backpack will still carry hundreds, if not thousands of dollars’ worth of tech.
Here are the key security features to look for in an anti-theft travel backpack.
Carrying expensive tech is enough reason to invest in slash proof bags. After all, property crimes in the U.S., although dwindling, still numbered 7.7 million in 2017. Many other countries, as beautiful as they are, also have high mugging and robbery rates.
Cut-proof packs consist of military-grade cut-resistant components. They’re the closest to a tamper-, theft-proof bag you can get. They’re also weather-proof, which further protects your stuff from rains and winds.
Some 15.4 million people in the U.S. were victims of identity theft in 2016. Some of them were credit card fraud victims. Thieves got their credit card info through the practice called “skimming”.
Being a victim of fraud while backpacking is the last thing you want to happen. You may end up having no funding means, which is especially worrisome if you’re outside of the country.
Good news is, there are backpacks featuring RFID blocking technology. This blocks electromagnetic fields from RFID scanners that can steal info from microchips. Aside from credit cards, it can also protect your passport and driver’s license.
EMP (electromagnetic pulse) protection is another backpack security feature to look for. This is especially important for backpackers with lots of tech gear in their bags. Anything that has a microchip in it, EMP can kill.
EMP faraday bags can safeguard your electronics, keeping attacks from rendering them unusable. The best packs also consist of military-grade materials, further protecting them from theft.
Take your backpack security a notch higher by getting a lockable bag. These are perfect for traveling with cash, cards, IDs, valuables, and sensitive documents. Some of them are big enough to house electronics like laptops.
You’ll also find backpacks that you can secure with specialized travel bag locks. These locks are super strong and durable, making them difficult to pop open.
Enjoy Safe and Secure Backpacking Around the World
So long as you follow these tips on how to backpack, you have lower risks of getting into an accident. Keep yourself safe wandering the world the first time, and it won’t be long until you plan your second voyage.
Ready for more backpacking tips like these? Then check out this guide on traveling on a budget!