Backpacking is one of the most adventurous and, we must admit, dangerous ways to travel. But if you’ve decided you want to venture into the ‘wild’ and explore exotic cultures and ancient ruins on your own, then there are a few rules you should follow and a few tricks that might come in handy. Packing your backpack and checking your flight schedule is obviously not enough, so here are a few things you need to think about before going on a trip.
Skip pre-booking for long-term trips
It’s one thing if you are travelling Spain for a week or two, but if you are going to explore a number of Asian countries and your trip will last for 3 months or more, booking your accommodation (and even tickets!) in advance may not be the best idea. Things change during the trip, you might want to skip some places or you’ll find a travel companion who will show you around. Yet booking for the first few weeks of the trip is okay.
Do some research
Venturing into the ‘wild’ is all fun, but if you’re going to the places where people can hardly speak English, it’s better to know what’s where to better navigate the country. You won’t ever feel completely lost and you’ll have a better understanding of your surroundings. Check out what Lonely Planet has to say about your destination. There are plenty of other resources too.
It’s true you’ll need a lot of things if you’re going away for a long time. But it’s also true that you’ll be carrying all those things on your back, and that may not be so much fun. Remember, that you can buy a lot of stuff (and often cheaper) basically anywhere you go. People use clothes, shampoos and towels everywhere, so you don’t need to carry your whole house with you.
Get your GPS on and walk around
Exploring new towns and cities is fun even if you don’t know your way around yet. It’s even better this way! Get your map ready, forget about cabs and rikshas, and do some old-school walking. You’ll find non-touristic wonders, amazing food places, beautiful nooks and corners that aren’t on any travel guide.
Eat local food
Why even go somewhere if you’re going to stick to your usual meals? Eating local food is always fun and it is much, much cheaper than all the touristy restaurants. It may be tasty there, but you’ll save a lot of money if you eat where the locals eat. Street food and food stalls at markets are a great way to get fresh tasty meals.
Save money on flights
Flying is the quickest way to get from one point to another, but the truth is that buses and trains are much cheaper, and are often more fun, because you get to mingle with the locals and have a chat or two. Going on a long-term journey you’ll find that being on the go constantly requires a lot of money-spending on transportation, so think about that too.
Save money on local attractions
There’s not much you can do about entrance fees, but it’s still better to do your research – how much exactly it costs and whether there are days when the entrance is free. You can also use your student ID (if you have one) to get some discounts.
Just talk to people
Whether you need help on your journey or you are just curious about the culture, talking to people is the best way to get around. You can find cheaper transportation, a stay for a night or two (for free), make some new friends and try some local foods you wouldn’t find otherwise. Talking to fellow travellers is also a great way to know about the places you are planning to visit. Maybe you’ll even change your whole route!
Be mindful of your surroundings
It’s better to stay optimistic about the people that surround you, but don’t forget there are scammers and pick-pockets that like to target tourists, especially if you are travelling alone. If you think someone is suspicious – just stop talking with such a person. Your intuition is never wrong, and if it is, better safe than sorry.
The truth is, memories fade – but photos don’t. There will be a time in your life when you’ll want to remember some details or maybe just show some of the best spots you’ve visited to your friends and family. Taking photos during the trip is fun. You can even make a video and become popular on YouTube!