Common wisdom goes that you should travel as much as your life and budget will allow. Traveling opens your mind up to new people, experiences, and adventures, and you’ll never regret a trip, be it big or small. Backpacking is an excellent method of traveling for anyone, young or old, as long as you’re fit and able to carry all your belongings with you. Before you set out, make sure you read our golden rules so you have the best time possible, BUCKiTDREAM-er!
- Get A Good Bag
The importance of a good, solid backpack cannot be overstated. When you’re shopping, remember that you’ll be carrying your pack with you pretty much everywhere. Padded straps, proper clips, and waterproof covers are just some of the features you should consider as essential. Go and visit a real camping supplies store and talk to an expert there, who can help get the best bag for you. This will depend on your strength, height, and weight. Most stores will have weights they can place in the bag so you can plan how much you’ll be able to carry.
- Don’t Over-Pack
Over-packing is the enemy of backpacking. This isn’t like your regular holiday. Backpacking is usually over a longer period of time and you’ll be dragging your pack around everywhere with you. You just won’t have room for every outfit, every item of skincare, and every novel. Buy a small microfiber towel that will dry quickly. Pare your wardrobe down to about three or four outfits of mix-and-match items. Remind yourself that this experiment in living minimally will be good for you. You’ll be surprised what you can do without!
- Lower Your Expectations
The whole point of backpacking is that you’ll go off the beaten track. While the vast majority of hostels and public transport across the world are pretty great, you’re bound to have one or two bad experiences. The best thing you can do is relax, have a sense of humor, and remember that any gross hostel or slightly scary bus ride will turn into a fun story when you’ve had some time to remember it as funny.
- Don’t Plan Too Much
While it’s definitely a good idea to be prepared and do your research, it’s always advisable to be open to trying something you may not have planned in your initial itinerary. It’s good to decide last-minute that you want to visit another town or city, or that you want to change hostels as you’ve heard about a cool little venue in a different part of town. The best part of backpacking is the flexibility. You get to be a lot freer in your plans, which often means you’ll have some incredible and unexpected adventures.
- Learn To Sleep Anywhere
Before you go backpacking, the thought of sleeping on a plane, train, or automobile may seem completely alien to you, but by the time you get home, you’ll be a dab hand at grabbing a ten-minute nap on your backpack in the common area of a hostel. You may not always sleep amazingly at night, especially if you’re in shared dorm accommodation, so you’ll get very good at napping anywhere possible. It’s also a good idea to travel with earplugs. You never know what your dorm-mates could be getting up to that could stop you sleeping!
- Become More Outgoing
Backpacking makes you an expert at talking to strangers, especially if you’re traveling alone. Shared kitchens and common areas in hostels foster a really great sense of community and you’re pretty much guaranteed to make friends that you’ll stay in touch with long after your travels are over.
- Meet The Locals
While you’ll meet great people at your hostel, the likelihood is that they’ll be tourists and visitors like you. The best way to see an area or city is to get out and meet the locals so you can get the knowledge on the best spots that might not have made it into your guidebooks. Go to local pubs and restaurants and be outgoing. You never know who you might meet and what brilliant tips they’ll give you on making the most out of your trip to their hometown.
- Eat Everything
It’s obvious to say that the food you eat while traveling has the potential to be very different from anything you get at home. While you should always be conscious of food safety and hygiene standards, it’s best to dive in and try anything and everything on offer to you while you’re traveling. Try the curries in Thailand or India, the sushi in Japan, and kangaroo steak in Australia. What’s not to love?
- Stay Safe
While being open-minded and adventurous is very important while traveling, safety should also be a primary concern. When you arrive in a new city or area, make sure you become aware of the local police station. Get to know whoever owns or runs your accommodation and ask about their safety procedures. Lock your bag and carry your essential possessions on your person at all times, like your wallet, money, bank cards, phone, and passport. Trust your instincts and if anyone makes you feel uncomfortable, escalate their behavior to someone in a position of authority.
- Have Fun!
While this one may seem intuitive, we want to remind you that the most important part of backpacking is to have fun! Go with the flow, meet new people, do things that scare you a little and you’ll build a world of memories to look back on fondly for years to come!
Stay open-minded, be safe, go off the beaten track and you’ll have the best time ever! Just don’t forget to track your travels across all social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram. The best part of going on an adventure is making everyone at home jealous!