Best practices for making the most out of your time on the road
So you’re FINALLY doing it, huh?! You’re finally taking the plunge and setting off on your first backpacking adventure. I’m sure you’re pumped – and probably a little nervous. Here are some tips on what to do – and what to avoid – to make this the trip(s) of a lifetime.
Don’t think about it too much
Planning, overthinking, worrying – these all represent everything you’re trying to stop doing by hitting the road. Be smart and trust yourself. Give yourself a little outline of the ground you want to cover. Then let the rest happen on its own.
Don’t try to cover too much ground
Every time I go on a trip, I knock one destination off my list – but I uncover ten others I want to add. That’s just the way it goes. When you’re outlining your trip, make sure you don’t stretch yourself too thin. It can be really nice to rest a bit in one spot, especially in remote areas where travel isn’t easy. Pick a small region and make sure you’re in one place more often than you’re on the road. You want to enjoy spending time away and not feel rushed to always be on your way.
Make friends as often as possible
I dare say that the friends you make on a backpacking trip are more valuable than any other part of the experience. Think about it – nearly everyone you meet is brave enough, curious enough and open minded enough to be on a backpacking trip. The likelihood that you’ll meet people with whom you have a few things in common is pretty high. So talk to people – at the breakfast table at the hostel, waiting in a queue to buy bus tickets. Find out where they’re going, what they’re doing and if you can come along. You won’t regret it.
Plan to be a little uncomfortable
Hostels are a blast, but they aren’t luxury hotels. Buses can be crowded. Varied cultural norms mean you might not understand what’s happening around you, and standards will be different from back home. Backpackers sometimes smell. Just because you’re on holiday doesn’t mean it won’t rain. Keep all of this in mind, and be prepared to learn from it and enjoy it.
Even if where you’re going will accept a credit card, you will pay a ton extra in exchange and usage fees. Take cash and carry a debit card. Plan to take out in lumps if possible to minimise fees.
Be honest with yourself
This is self explanatory but difficult to do. Just keep it in mind. Trust me.
Things happen. Invest in some inexpensive travellers’ insurance so you don’t end up in a tough situation. I like the backpacker insurance from Allianz.