Just starting out on your backpacking adventures? Then let us give you our top tips for future backpackers!
Don’t pack too much stuff
We know they say to plan for failure, but there is a fine line between that and overpacking. You need to remember that whatever you pack, you’ll have to carry. Before you know it, your backpack will be half your height and will be a complete nightmare to carry on public transport, or even just tidy away on the plane.
Carrying makeup, going out clothing, and a jacket for every occasion really isn’t necessary. You’ll be wearing the same things day in day out, just out of practicality. And make sure to invest in adequate equipment and clothing to ensure that you are comfortable 24/7. The key is to not pack all of your belongings. Though this may seem obvious, you need to remember – you’re going on a trip, you’re not moving countries!
This doesn’t just go for clothing or toiletries – you can overpack food, believe it or not! During your first few backpacking adventures, you are very likely to overdo it. How can you get the right balance? Lay out your different meals for each day, and create a schedule – you’ll soon realize that you could do without those extra lunch boxes.
Sign up to a backpacking group and spend less
Certain destinations are expensive to travel alone, which is why signing up to a backpacking group could be the ideal solution for you. Particularly backpacking in the US, Norway or Australia can be costly. Though Trek America sadly closed due to Covid, their sister company, Exodus Travels, will allow you to enjoy exciting adventures. Plus, you’re all in it together, you’ll get to make some lifelong friends that you will share incredible memories with.
Through this kind of organization, you’ll be able to share an apartment and pay equal parts for a shared car, minimizing your costs. You will also feel safer travelling in larger groups and more confident getting acquainted with local customs and traditions.
Choose an easy backpacking destination for your first time
When backpacking for the first time, choose an easy destination to get to grips with the elements. The easier the first experience, the more motivated you will be the next times. One of the ways you can choose an easier backpacking experience is by choosing a destination that is closer to home. Also choose a well-established and traveled trail, so that if you run into difficulties, more experienced backpackers will be on hand to help.
Brings games and/or a book
When you’re backpacking, old school entertainment is often the best. A card game makes a great icebreaker when getting to know your backpacking buddies, and a good book can keep you distracted on your travels. A good old board game will keep you and your travel companions occupied and will provide some laughs along the way. Whether it’s a game of solitaire or Cards Against Humanity, you’ll release your competitive streak.
Try street food
One of the highlights of travelling abroad is tasting the local cuisine, and street food is the cost-effective way to get those taste buds tingling. You’ll get to try all sorts of local treats and new herbs and spices that you will never have known back at home. Be warned – backpackers have been known to get ill from street food experiences. Why? Because your body is exposed to bacteria that you may not be used to. Don’t let that put you off though, your body will get used to it and you can enjoy the food markets!
Bring a high quality sleeping bag
You’ll be constantly on the go, so it will be very important to get a decent night’s sleep. And your ultimate companion? It will be your sleeping bag! You’ll be battling all the elements, so you need to ensure that your sleeping bag is warm, safe and comfortable. It will really impact your sleep and also will last for any future backpacking adventures you may have up your sleeve. Throw a tent or a van into the mix and you will be very cozy. All you’ll have to think about is admiring the wildlife and the starry night skies.
How do you know whether you’re getting a quality sleeping bag? There are different criteria to take into account, notably if you’re going to opt for down insulation or synthetic insulation.
Down insulation: Down insulates by trapping air, and it’s easy to compress and it’s lightweight – the perfect combo for travelling with. It is especially ideal in dry conditions. Its downfall is that it can take a long time to dry if wet.
Synthetic insulation: This is a budget-friendly option that will still ensure quality. It is water resistant and hypoallergenic. Its cons? This kind of insulation is heavier and bulkier, so it isn’t easy to fit in your backpack.
Bring an external battery
This may sound obvious, but when travelling, it isn’t as easy to charge your phone. When you’re travelling in a developing country, power cuts can be frequent. Nothing’s worse than trying to capture a perfect photo upon your adventures, and then your phone switches off. Goodbye all those photo opportunities! Or just being on a long bus journey and running out of power can make for a journey that lasts an eternity. A power bank will avoid all this and make sure you’re making the most of your getaway!
Pack your clothes carefully
As we mentioned before, overpacking will only give you a heavier load to carry, and you won’t use most of what you’ve thrown in your backpack anyway! Make sure you pack adequate clothing that is resistant and easy to move in. You also want clothing that is breathable to allow you to adapt to all weather conditions.
Anything is cotton is a big no-no, when humid, it can quickly become rotten and before you know it, you’ll have no wearable clothes left! Instead, opt for synthetic fabrics that will survive your backpacking escapades longer, and will be light enough to wear in rising temperatures.
How should you organize your clothing? You’ll need to organize it by layers, according to the temperatures you are expecting. Thermal underwear may seem excessive during the day, but at night it will help keep you cozy in your sleeping bag. You will then need to think of hiking gear that will allow you to be free in your movements. Last but not least, insulation and rainwear, that will help you face that downpour, and also those pesky mosquitoes! The beauty of layers of course is that you can take one off or add one on according to the weather and your itinerary for the day, so that will give you more versatility and comfort.
Socialize with locals
You can’t say your backpacking experience was authentic if you didn’t embrace the local customs and try to get to know the locals. Step out of your comfort zone, and we are sure they will be delighted to tell you all about their country and their region. You’ll find out more from just one social interaction with a local than any tourist guide could tell you. And no, ordering food does not count.
Get exploring the area and try to converse with the locals. You’ll only know about true everyday life in the country from them. If you’re really getting on like a house on fire, maybe you can even find out about their family history.
Not sure where to start? Get involved in any activities where you see them, and Couchsurfing is an easy way to meet locals too. Plus, it saves you from camping every so often!
Don’t book your trip too early, nor too late
We all like to plan in advance, but you know you can plan too early, right? Yes, you read that right! Ideally, you should book your flight 1 and a half to 3 months before your trip. Any earlier than that and you may find yourself settling for prices and flight times that are less than ideal. You will find absolutely no flexibility, and why put yourself through a very early flight when you could make sure you’re perfectly relaxed? On the other hand, any later than that, the prices will continue to increase.
Also, the more you look at prices on search engines and comparison websites, the higher they go, so don’t do too much toing and froing between different websites. Because in the end, you may be paying a lot more than you needed too!