Whilst the ideal for some backpackers may be the hedonistic notion of jetting off into the sunset not knowing where you will end up or how you will get there, this just isn’t an option for most of us.
Or not if we want our hard earned saving to last more than a couple of weeks anyway, the best way to travel and to travel successfully is to follow some very simple but important tips to make sure you stay safe and get the most out of your backpacking experience.
The first rule for any backpacker has got to be, travel light. We have all been there, even on 2 week holidays where we have packed 12 pairs of shoes and only worn the same pair of trusty favourites every night. The same goes for backpacking, and more so as this bag will not be left in your hotel room, an unnecessarily heavy bag will soon become tiresome and you will quickly wish you hadn’t packed that extra outfit.
A great must have item is a sarong, this handy item takes up hardly any space and can be used as a cover up, a blanket when you need something to sit on or your feeling a little cold and pinned to a top bunk can provide a bit of extra privacy, much needed in a busy hostel.
Other must haves include, a pair of light, plastic flip flops for the communal showers, you do not want to be going in there barefoot, a wash bag for your essentials (spilled products all over your clothes is not fun!) and only ever take a maximum of one pair of jeans as these are particularly heavy to carry. Other useful things to take with you include, a bottle opener and torch, both of these can be bought in handy mini sizes that attach to key rings.
Purchase Travel Insurance
The last thing you want to do when you have finally embarked on your trip of a lifetime is to have to cut it short for any reason. When preparing before you go it is vital that you purchase travel insurance, there are plenty of policies around that offer great value for money and many companies offer specific backpackers cover.
Whilst saving for travelling you might be tempted to think that taking out travel insurance is a waste of money, don’t scrimp on the important stuff as it could mean that a small mishap goes from minor inconvenience to putting an end to your trip.
Travelling overnight is a great way to save money, not only does it mean you are provided with accommodation for the night you also don’t have to waste any valuable time that could be spent in the day seeing fantastic sites being cooped up in a hot bus or train.
Not only that but the night buses are cheaper than their day time counterparts.
The one sacrifice you may have to make is that it’s unlikely to be the best night’s sleep you’ve ever had, but if you are looking for a luxurious night’s sleep maybe backpacking isn’t for you after all!
When booking be aware of scams, some companies in Thailand may look like a reputable bus company but whilst you are asleep above, one of their crooks is in the hold with your bags removing all of your valuables and re packing your bag as if nothing was ever taken. Always book from a government run bus company, whilst others will claim to save you money it will end up costing you in the long run.
Always take your valuables out of your luggage and keep them on your person when putting your luggage into a hold of any kind, they are much safer on you than in any bag.
Do your research
Whilst the idea of nomadically wondering the globe, not knowing where the next bus or train will take you might sound romantic, it’s not realistic, and if you do travel this way you will end up spending a lot of your money very quickly. The best thing you can possibly do is research and plan as much as possible before your journey begins, find out where the cheapest hostels are, which offer free transport from the airport, where the cheapest and best local food can be bought and when is the best time to travel by bus or train.
There is a world of research and past experience at your fingertips on the internet, use it!
Go to online travel guides, engage in community forums and discuss where you are travelling too, chances are someone will have been there before who is more than happy to pass on their advise and save you a bit of money as well as let you into some hidden secrets of the best places to visit.
All pictures thanks to Flickr.com.