Shit you need to start doing while backpacking and travelling
Backpacking is like breathing, it’s that natural to me. I have stayed in so many guesthouses, hostels and hotels around the world I’ve lost count. I‘d argue I’ve taken nearly every mode of transport ever invented. And I’ve probably packed, unpacked and repacked my bag thousands of times. There are things I do on the road I don’t even realise I’m doing them anymore.
However, even I was once a backpacker arriving in a new country for the first time with no fucking idea of where to go or what to do. We all have to start somewhere. Or do we?
I’m not the only one who’s clocked up years of backpacking experience, and I’m not the only one who does certain things on the road like they are second nature to me, so in this article, 6 Tips from Backpacking Experts, I thought I’d turn to a few of those backpacking buffs out there to give their one tip, the one thing they do time and time again without thinking about it, to help you see the world in style. Pretty much all of these peeps are all travelling right now, so they really do know what they’re talking about.
If you want to make your life easier while on the road, this is a list of shit you need to start doing while backpacking and travelling.
Chris Stevens, Creator of Backpacker Banter and Epic Gap Year
Book your first two nights’ accommodation when you arrive to a new country
One of the best things I ever got into the habit of doing when planning on heading to a new destination is to book my first two nights’ accommodation after a long haul flight.
Unless you already know where you’re going and how you’re going to bounce out of there, not having to wake up for a 10am check-out time is always sensible. It gives you time to make a plan, explore a bit of the city or simply have a leisurely morning. The chances are you won’t be jumping on a bus first thing in the morning unless you’re heaps organised, so take you time and enjoy the destination a bit longer whilst reducing the stress.
Becki Enright, Creator of Borders of Adventure
Never underestimate the social power and insight of local people
Whether it’s your guesthouse owner or the random taxi driver you hire for the day, you never know what adventures such interaction may lead to. A small group of friends and I recently pulled over a taxi in Georgia, and despite not being able to communicate through the language barrier to our driver, we still had a great day with him.
The next day we asked him to meet us for another day trip, and all of a sudden we were at his house meeting his family. Also, he signalled to us that we would return to the house after we had seen what we had initially hired him for. We came back to a family feast, and we left with an unforgettable travel memory.
Dave Brett, Creator of Travel Dave
Take only what you need and pack like a pro
It’s often recommended in travel advice books to purchase a lot of expensive gear, which you inevitably end up not using. Preparing for the unexpected is scary, and people buy everything that’s recommended to them out of fear. However, pretty much every country around the world sells what you really need, so don’t worry if you haven’t bought it beforehand.
On my first trip, after six months on the road, I noticed some gear in my bag was never being used. It ended up getting ditched to make room for other stuff; it was sad as it didn’t come cheap.
My advice is to take the bare elements you need to make travel work for you, and if you need to buy something on the road then buy it; items are normally a lot cheaper abroad anyway.
Arianwen Morris, Creator of Beyond Blighty
Take a night bus
They give you more quality time on your holiday and you save money on a night’s accommodation. If you’re going to do it though, there are some things you should consider. First, no matter how hot the outside temperature is, take a jumper, maybe two. Buses overseas are notorious for cranking up the air conditioning.
Secondly, be very careful with your belongings. It’s best to take your most treasured possessions in a shoulder bag on the bus with you and never leave it in the overhead space.
If you get off the bus at a service station, remember the bay number and the number of the bus itself, and double check how long you have. If the bus disappears for a while, it isn’t necessarily cause for alarm. Sometimes, they go off for a clean and petrol top up. Make sure you know what time you’re due to arrive at your destination and set your phone alarm for 30 minutes earlier as they won’t necessarily wake you at your stop. Oh, and enjoy it!
Neil Barnes, Creator of Backpacks and Bedbunks
Be considerate of other backpackers when leaving a dorm room
I like sleep, and the older I get, the more I NEED sleep. Sleep is a must, but at times difficult to come by in a hostel dorm room. For the most part I get it. It’s cool that you need to get up and go to the toilet in the middle of the night, or even if you snore a little; they’re things you cannot control.
What’s not cool is you rustling the life out of plastic bags and emptying your locker at 4am because you have to make a bus or flight. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want you to miss your bus or flight, but please just have the common sense to pack as much of your bag as possible the night before, and not leave it all till the very last minute and wake everyone up whilst in the process of packing and panicking about where your flip-flops or favourite beer branded vest is. How would you like it if the non-missing flip-flop was on the other foot?
Ben Allen, World Wanderer
Don’t make too many plans
Time takes on a different form when you are travelling. It’s less regimented. More flexible. Numbers on a clock don’t matter any longer. You are free. It’s about the feeling.
Don’t make too many plans – leave when you are ready, eat when you are hungry, sleep when you are tired. It’s as simple as that. Want to rest for a while? Do yoga on the side of a promenade? Sit in a park until you feel ready to move? Go do it – don’t rush it. If something feels right in the middle of the day or the middle of the night, it matters not. Take your time, lose the watch, cherish the freedom you’ve gained.
So there you have it, those are 6 tips from backpacking experts.
As I said, I’m not the only one who does things a certain way. Nor are these guys. Give it time, and you’ll find your own path, your own way to travel. And then you can tell us all about it.
We love hearing from you, so what are your backpacking hints and tips? Is there anything you do in a certain way that you think could help first-time backpackers and travellers? If so, let us know!