It’s easy to get side-tracked when planning your first backpacking trip by thinking of nothing more than amazing beaches, vibrant cities and mouth-watering cuisine. Organising visas, travel insurance and vaccinations might seem like a hassle but this is necessary to ensure you have the best trip possible. Here are some backpacking tips you should consider before setting off on your journey.
Yes, you really do need it! Travel insurance is essential for backpackers who will find themselves in an array of completely different environments. You definitely don’t want to end up covering the costs if your bag disappears from that overnight bus, your flight is cancelled or the local food has some unpleasant consequences on your health. At the very least, having travel insurance gives you, and your loved ones at home, peace of mind. There are several excellent price comparison sites online which allow you to easily see which policy is best suited to your trip and budget.
Prevention is better than cure. Research the countries you will be visiting and make sure you get the recommended vaccinations. Developing countries such as Cambodia, Thailand, Mexico and Brazil are home to some nasty diseases such as typhoid, yellow fever or malaria. Getting jabs before you leave means that you’re a lot less likely to have your cut your trip short because of an illness. Being laid up in a foreign hospital where you don’t speak the language is not fun. Backpackers are advised to book an appointment at a TMB clinic to find out more about vaccinations they may require and to get the best tips about how to travel safely.
Thought you could just rock up and charm your way through security? Not always the case. You’ll need to look into the visa requirements for the places you want to backpack through. In some countries, such as Malaysia and Indonesia, you can get a visa on arrival. Others, like Myanmar and China, require a trip to the embassy before you arrive. While you’re at it, make sure you have cash in the correct currency to pay for your visa and that your passport is in date.
Check out travel blogs to get a sense of how much it costs to backpack around your destinations of choice. You don’t want to have to cut your trip short or beg off your parents because of some careless planning. You’ll get a lot more bang for your buck in South East Asia or South America but it’s also important to factor in unexpected costs. Your phone charger might break, a must-do activity might be more expensive than anticipated and you may insist on ordering shots for the whole hostel when you’ve had a few too many.
Packing your backpack
Less really is more. Backpacking is tiring and it’s a whole lot tougher if you’re dragging around more weight than you need. It’s not uncommon for backpackers to ditch perfectly good clothing or unread books at the start of their journey, all because their shoulders ache and their backs can’t quite take it anymore. Just bring the basics! It’s easy to pick up toiletries and cheap clothing on the well-worn backpacking trail. There really is no need for that can of hairspray or extra pair of shoes. Check out blog posts from Hostelbookers and Nomadic Matt for more advice on how to pack your backpack.
There’s a lot to cover but getting these practicalities sorted means you can enjoy your trip and really get the most out of it. Travelling can be daunting but being well prepared will definitely help you to feel more secure and confident.