There’s nothing that can totally prepare you for your first backpacking trip. You may get a barrage of advice from friends and family who want to put their two cents in, but all guidance will seem to state the obvious, like not talking to strangers and staying safe.
It takes time to be a backpacking expert, but with the proper know-how, you don’t have to learn the hard way. Here are some of the best travel tips that will help you enjoy your adventure in the great outdoors.
1. Prioritize your health
It’s easy to feel invincible when you are traveling. There’s no one to call you out, so you tend to go overboard with drinking, eating, and being reckless.
It’s easy to go overboard while you travel because there’s often no one around to call you out. This means you’ll be more susceptible to drinking too much, overeating, and doing reckless or dangerous activities.
If you plan to backpack for an extended time, take care of yourself to make sure you don’t break down halfway. Eat consciously, and don’t drink too much.
We also recommend that you pack all the medications you will need so that if you get sick, you don’t need to drag yourself out of bed and scour the whole town for a pharmacy. Bring a variety of trusted medicine that you usually take when you’re sick. It would be good if you won’t get the chance to use it, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
2. Prepare your maps
When you open Google Maps for the city you’re currently in, the app stores the information. So, even when you lose your WiFi connection, you can still access the map and your recent searches. Maps are incredibly valuable, and that’s why they are considered one of the travel essentials. If you think your smartphone’s map is unreliable, you can always get a hard copy and put it to use. Many local tourism offices and national parks give maps for free or sell them for an affordable price.
Make sure to learn how to read a map properly before you go further toward your destination.
3. Inform your bank that you are traveling
If your bank notices any suspicious transactions from your account, they will suspend it immediately and contact you to verify whether or not the purchase was legitimate. Though the bank’s intentions are reasonable, it can be a nightmare for you as a traveler. A bank’s idea of a suspicious transaction is any transaction made from a country apart from your home country.
So, informing your bank about your travel, including the dates you’ll be there, will help ensure that you aren’t left in a foreign country with no money. This tip is one of the essential when backpacking, as travelers don’t have too much access to sources of money outside their own countries, so remember to keep your bank well-informed.
4. Blend with the locals
Unfortunately, some locals like to pick on travelers because they are easy targets, especially for thieves. They can spot tourists from a distance, so we recommend that you try to fit in with the locals. That means no visible belt bag, fanny packs, or bum bags. If you need to wear one, it’s better to wear it where it cannot be easily spotted. Don’t carry a loaded backpack if you’re only walking through the city for a day. While the fact remains that you’re a tourist and you should always embrace that, it will help not to make it too obvious to avoid getting into trouble.
5. Don’t pack too much stuff
It’s perfectly understandable to want to have wardrobe choices for the different activities you will do while traveling. However, when you’re backpacking, carrying all of these is a nightmare. You may often see travelers having too much stuff on their backpacks. But to be honest, they don’t look like they’re having the time of their lives. Also, taking public transportation seems like a nightmare for them.
Remember that sometimes, less is more, so always practice simplicity when it comes to packing your wardrobe. Bring versatile pieces of clothing that can go with anything, such as basic tops, jeans, and anything black. Backpacking means you’ll have limited space, so avoid bringing anything you can only wear once. Bring flexible and functional clothes that you can wear a couple of times and will suit a variety of occasions when mixed and match with your other pieces.
6. Find out where the public toilets are located
When you are on holiday and in a foreign city, the last thing you want is to get caught needing to go without anywhere to go. Most cities have public toilets that are easy to find, and you must know where they are precisely located.
Shopping centers always have public toilets, while hotel lobbies have one of the most well-maintained public restrooms. You can also try fast food places, but keep in mind that these may not be the cleanest, and sometimes they may charge a small fee. As a traveler, knowing these could save your life, or your dignity, at the least.
7. Always bring some plastic bags with you
Having a wet towel or wet clothes in your suitcase can be such a hassle, and accidentally wearing used clothes, especially underwear, is gross. This can happen if you don’t separate your wet or soiled clothes from the clean ones. Thankfully, plastic bags can come in handy when you’re traveling. Carrying a couple of plastic bags in your suitcase takes up minimal space, and they also have multiple uses.
8. Set out a budget, but be flexible
It’s always helpful to have a rough idea of how much you can afford to spend while traveling, but sometimes, sticking to a rigid budget can take the fun away from the trip. The most exciting experiences like going on spontaneous trips, thrill-seeking adventures, fancy dinners, and late-night parties, all cost money.
It’s good to save money, but not at the expense of missing out on a life-changing experience or a memory that will last for a lifetime. Those things are priceless and should be where you’re spending your hard-earned money.
Most of all, have fun and allow yourself to step out of your comfort zone. Try things outside your boundaries; try them all without regrets. It may or may not make sense, but you will never know unless you try. Embrace everything that will come your way, and you’ll learn things about yourself that you have never known.
If you’re looking for more backpacking tips, or you want to learn more about solo backpacking, please subscribe to Backpacker Magazine. It also contains informative articles about trail hiking, family camping, sea kayaking, and mountain bike tours.
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