6 Must Know Tips for Your First Backpacking Adventure
Travel boldly and live without restrictions.
1. Pack only the essentials
Pack only the essentials when going backpacking. You do not need to bring three quarters of the things that you think you’re going to use. Anything that you can buy at your destination, buy there. This summer the bag that I brought on my trips to Greece and Kenya was huge, and it made me a lot less mobile. I wasn’t able to be spontaneous and go wherever I wanted on a whim because I wasn’t very mobile carrying that big thing around. Realistically I should have just packed a smaller bag. It would have been a lot easier for me to get up and do what I wanted without much planning.
2. Stay at a hostel
Stay at a hostel rather than a hotel or resort. Even if you can afford to stay somewhere luxurious, by staying at a hostel you’ll meet a bunch of cool people and have a sick time. Do a Google search or go on Trip Advisor and search “best hostels (wherever you want to go)”. When I was in Mykonos we stayed at a resort because it looked like it was going to be a fun time, but unfortunately there weren’t many other people who were looking to be outgoing as well. On the other hand, when I stayed at a hostel in Ios I met a ton of people right when I walked into the hostel, we hit up the beaches and pub crawls together, and they gave me a bunch of fun ideas for stuff to do on the island.
3. Book some of your travel ahead
Book some of your travel ahead of time, but not all of it. When you first land in a new country you’re definitely going to want a place to rest your head, so you should absolutely book a place to stay for your first couple of nights in each of your destinations. Also, I highly recommend that you leave a couple of days in each spot open, and maybe leave 4 or 5 days (up to a week) free at the end of your trip as well. That way as people tell you about cool stuff you can make plans to go where you want without having to worry about finding time. I had a bunch of people tell me about how much fun it was in Split (Croatia) and Budapest, but I had booked every single day of my trip already and couldn’t go. Next time I go backpacking I’m definitely going to leave a few days open, and I highly recommend that when you go on your first trip that you do the same.
4. Exchange some money in advance.
By exchanging money before you arrive, you don’t have to worry about not having any of the local currency and getting some isn’t a headache for you while you’re there. If you do run into a situation where you have to exchange money at your destination, you should definitely shop around – different kiosks and banks are going to offer you different rates and you don’t want to get ripped off. Also, I highly recommend that you bring an emergency credit card in case something happens. I missed a flight on my last trip, and if it wasn’t for an emergency credit card I wouldn’t have been able to quickly book a boat that day so I could get to my next destination on time.
5. Be aware, stay safe, and use your best judgement.
Not everyone that you meet backpacking is going to be a nice person and some people may try to take advantage of you, or might do things that aren’t necessarily… smart. I remember my first big trip was a family vacation to China, and I can vividly remember standing on the Great Wall as a 9 year old kid, and getting pick-pocketed by another kid my age for $1.50 while I took a picture with him. Hopefully you don’t have to experience something like that, but it’s always important to keep an eye out and realize that not everyone is going to want the best for you. Also, it’s important to get travel insurance before you go backpacking. In case you get hurt, something goes missing, a bag gets lost, or anything else goes wrong, you want to make sure you’re covered. I like to use lowestrates.ca to shop around different insurance companies to get the best prices for the coverage that I want.
6. Be flexible and open-minded.
Obviously keep safety in mind, but when you’re backpacking try new things, meet new people, be spontaneous – just have a “Yes Mentality”. A “Yes Mentality” means that you don’t turn down new experiences, you’re okay with doing things in the spur of the moment, and you’re excited for what’s next – even if you don’t know what that is. You may have to sleep on an airport floor one night or take a rocky boat to your next destination, but if you roll with the hits and stay positive no matter what, then I guarantee that by the end of your trip you’ll have had a great time.
Here are the 6 tips again:
1. Pack only the essentials
2. Stay at hostels
3. Plan some travel ahead
4. Exchange money at home
5. Be safe and aware
6. Be flexible and open-minded
If you have any tips to add to this list please get in touch and let me know, I’m looking forward to hearing what you think. Travel boldly and live without restrictions. Follow me on my adventures