Contrary to popular belief there’s more to backpacking than grabbing a bag, jumping on a plane and going! Snippets of knowledge about how to pack, what to pack, where to go and what to do are invaluable. So whether you’re planning a trip or on the road already, these everyday answers could make your global adventures much easier and more memorable.
While purist backpackers argue that round-the-world trips require a ‘real’ backpack, a soft, light-weight, wheeled bag – perhaps with a zip off day pack – will makes life much easier. Save your energy (and your back) for the big adventures and glide through airports, bus stops, train stations and hostels with a backpack with wheels!
Pack as light as possible when it comes to clothes. You can always wash whatever you need, or pick up extras more cheaply whilst you’re away. Why not try the local fashions? This can also apply to wash bag essentials. You can probably pick up shampoos, soaps and shower gels at some point, so you won’t need to bring a heavy year’s supply with you.
>It’s easy to become paranoid about keeping belongings safe when everything you own and need is in one bag. Yet having lots of complicated locks and security on your pack can draw unwanted attention; don’t go overboard. A simple combination padlock is perfect for use in a hostel locker.
If you want to secure any zips on your bag for an overnight train journey but don’t want to attract attention, you could always use plastic cable ties. Just make sure you have your Swiss-army knife to hand when you next need to open your bag up. Of course keep any valuables on you personally, and under lock. We’re not saying don’t use padlocks – they’re a backpacking must! Just don’t make yourself stand out too much.
Overnight transport can save days in your schedule! Overnight trains, busses, boats, even flights are also a great way to try and save a bit of money on accommodation as you’ll be sleeping on-board. Travelling with extra budget to spend elsewhere? A backpacking dream!
The best meals/ beaches/ nights out are usually down to the recommendation of a local. Guidebooks are often right too, but nothing beats a good tip. Look for the spots where the locals go to find some of the best dinners, parties and shops. If you’ve just arrived at a hostel or hotel in a new town it’s always worth asking at the reception or front desk where they recommend as this can save you from wandering around tired, hungry and looking lost – a dangerous combination which will make you an easy tourist target to potential pickpockets.
Finding great places to eat can be tricky and expensive if you’re not sure where to look. If your accommodation has a kitchen you can use local markets, as cooking yourself will be cheaper than shopping at a supermarket or corner shop. In lots of countries however it can work out to be much the same price to eat breakfast, lunch or dinner at a local restaurant or café. This is because in many places locals won’t cook at home, and instead eat on the go.
Hunt for the places that are busiest with locals as this usually means the food is good, cheap and won’t have been sitting around for too long. Try and avoid salads, as these are a frequent cause of traveller’s tummy. Similarly try to eat fruit with a skin you can peel off, such as bananas or mangos.
One of the more common backpacking health problems around the world is ‘traveller’s tummy’. This happens to most people at some point whilst backpacking and can be caused by many different things such as eating something that doesn’t agree with you or not being used to the local water. Be careful when brushing teeth, choosing drinks with ice, and eating fruits or vegetables to avoid stomach upset. If you do become ill, rehydration powders are essential for replenishing lost body salts and sugars, and can make the difference between getting back on your feet in a few days, or having to visit the local doctor or hospital due to severe dehydration.
No matter where you go or what you want to do, a little preparation, wisdom and a few small things can perfect your trip and make it unforgettable.
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