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How To Be The Best Backpacker: A Traveller's Checklist

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Backpacking is no joke. Although it’s one of the best vacations you could ever take, and some of the most fun you could ever have, there are also a lot of considerations you have to make before you leave, and while you’re on your trip. Here are some points to help you before you set off…
Before You Go
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Make plans. No one’s saying that you need to make sure that your entire trip is planned out to the day – where’s the fun in that? On the contrary, you need to ensure that you give yourself plenty of leeway so you can do exactly what you want when you want. But it is important to make sure that you have somewhere to stay on your first couple of nights in the city you’re first arriving in, particularly if you don’t speak the language. Having that organised will enable you to take a little time to adjust and to figure out what you want to do next.
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Budget carefully. Is there anything more boring than making yourself think about money? Actually, yes: going broke and not being able to do anything because you’ve run out of it and your bank account is totally empty. If you’re going backpacking then chances are you aren’t sure when exactly you’re planning to return home. But it is important to make sure that you have the cash to be able to go home whenever you want, like if there’s a family emergency or you get a new job offer you don’t want to lose out on. Money means freedom – it means the difference between staying in a skeevy hostel that creeps you out and being able to afford to go to a hotel for the night to get some time and space for yourself.
Make sure you’re prepared. Depending on the country you’re going to, you might need to get some new vaccinations or even to invest in anti malaria medication. Make sure that you’ve done your research before you go, and also that you make sure that you’re fully aware of all the customs in the different countries that you’re visiting. For instance, if you’re planning to go somewhere where you might visit temples or mosques, you need to make sure that you pack clothes that will cover you up, plus a scarf to cover your hair in a mosque. Keeping with a country’s customs is the best way to respect them when you’re there – don’t be an ignorant tourist!
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Pack carefully. Chances are, you need less than you think, particularly when it comes to clothing. You need to make sure that you’re taking light things with you so that you can wash them out quickly over night and they’ll be dry by morning. You don’t need to take extra soap with you to wash your clothes – you can use body wash for that! You need to ensure that you have a waterproof jacket with you, plus plenty of clothes that you can layer if need be, like long sleeved shirts to go over the top of short sleeved shirts, along with leggings that you can wear under skirts and jeans if necessary. Take a sleeping sack so that you can curl up on hostel beds without worrying that you’re going to get bed bugs, and ensure that you take a camping towel which will roll up very small and also not smell of damp as it dries quickly. Keep a separate bag to wear on your front to keep all your essentials in like your camera, money, phone and passport, and make sure that you have a couple of pairs of comfortable shoes – walking boots and hiking sandals should work well. Finally, you should make sure that you can carry your backpack comfortably. You don’t want to end up hurting your back or finding your bag hard to move around.
During Your Trip
Do your research. When you’re backpacking, it’s tempting to fall into a completely bohemian lifestyle and leave everything you do up to chance, but the truth is that if you do that, you might miss out on some incredible experiences. Even if you want to stay off the beaten track, there are some things that you absolutely want to see – who would want to go to Athens and miss out on the Acropolis, one of the most important ancient monuments in the whole world? You might not want to be that geek with the guidebook and map, but if you want to make sure you pack everything into your trip, you should definitely research the local area to make sure that you see everything that you want to. Look on a site like the Travelsphere website for advice from people who really understand travelling. Although a lot of guidebooks will be great and tell you what you should go and visit, the really good advice will come from people who really understand what it feels like to travel alone, and how it feels to have that wanderlust dancing through your body.
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Make new friends. The truth is that backpackers are some of the most friendly people you’ll ever meet. With warm personalities and a sense of adventure in their souls, you’ll definitely meet people that you get along with in the common areas of the hostels that you’re staying in. Make sure that you talk to people and that you’re friendly and open towards them. Not only will you get some new friends to have a couple of fun meals and nights out with, but it’s also good to have some people around you who are watching out for your safety, and vice versa. It’s also easy to get isolated and feel a little lonely when you’re travelling by yourself – temporary new buddies are great even if they don’t last for your whole trip.
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Trust your instincts. It cannot be emphasised enough that you need to make sure to keep yourself as safe as you can while you’re travelling alone. Unless there are fellow backpackers looking out for you, there isn’t anyone there to know that you should have been back at your hostel by a certain time, so you need to make sure that you rely on yourself and what’s going on in your head. If you feel uncomfortable in any situation but you can’t quite pinpoint why, then you should get out of there as quickly as you can. Chances are, an unconscious part of your mind has picked up on something that the rest of your head hasn’t quite understood yet, like body language or tone of voice, so it’s important that you trust that feeling and that you extricate yourself from whatever you’re doing in as calm and assertive a way as you can.
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Learn About Public Transport. In order to keep yourself safe, it’s important to know how to get yourself back to your hostel or wherever it is that you’re staying. Make sure that you’ve researched the local transit system – if they have a safe cab service then ask whoever works at the front desk of your hostel about it, and make sure that you have the number on your phone for when you want to come home at night. You should check out the cost of the public transport and whether you need exact change – trying to get on a bus that only comes every hour is not the right time to discover that you need a specific combination of coins! Try to get a window seat so you can see exactly where you are, so you know when to get off.
When You Come Home
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Make plans. It can be very difficult and anticlimactic to come home from one of the best trips of your life. Backpacking in particular feels a whole lot like freedom – it’s exciting and refreshing to get to rely on yourself, and it can be frustrating and stifling to get home. Make sure that you make plenty of plans to meet up with your friends and family when you’re home – not only will they be delighted to see you but you’ll also get to relate your travelling tales to them (even if they don’t seem particularly interested). Seeing the people you love will make you feel a whole lot better about having to come home.
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Prepare for your next trip. If you feel sad or blue about coming home from your trip, then let’s face it – the only thing you can really do is prepare for the next one! If you’ve backpacked through Europe then why not consider visiting Asia or Australia next time around? There’s so much of the world to see, but luckily you have plenty of time – and now the skills and the equipment – to see it. Once you start travelling, you might never stop – but if we’re completely honest, it isn’t the worst addiction to have! When you go back to your job, remember that the boring long days will be worth it for the next time you step on that plane.

Stay Gorgeous

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