Backpacking Tips – The Best Way to Backpack
A lot of people go backpacking (because it’s the best), but if you are planning to go on a long trip, you should be aware of a few important backpacking tips. These tips will make the trip a lot more enjoyable, safe, and will save you plenty of $$$. Here are some things to keep in mind while you go on your backpacking party adventure of a lifetime.
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Make a (Loose) Budget
Before you start your trip, you need to figure out your budget. It is crucial that you don’t overspend, which is really easy to do after a couple of beers and a few tequila shots. It’s not overly necessary to keep to a concrete budget, as you’ll run into obstacles and opportunities that you could never have considered, but having a general idea definitely helps keep the trip running smoothly. One of the easiest ways to make sure you don’t overspend on a drunken night out is to bring a finite amount of cash. That way if you blackout you can only spend so much money. The only risk of this is needing cash for a Taxi or Uber back to the hostel at the end of the night.
If you want to do some pre-trip research – in addition to travel blogs, you can also use social media. You can easily search for hashtags related to your destination to find a list of hidden gems. But if you can’t get a hold of these, you can always wait and ask for recommendations from locals and other backpackers.
Don't Book Everything in Advance
Don’t book everything in advance. You’ll likely get a better deal when you book things when you are already at your destination. You can save a lot of time by researching and booking your activities and accommodation in advance, but that’s not the true backpackers’ way. Planning ahead is for boomers. As I write this article now, I have no idea where I’ll be sleeping tomorrow night, nor which country I’ll be in (I’m thinking Panama though?).
Regardless of not planning too much, it’s always best to buy your goods and services locally. Not only will this help support the local economy, but it’s also better for your wallet. Lastly, don’t be afraid to haggle. If you’re on a budget, it’s essential to know how to negotiate. The Art of Backpackers Negotiating sounds like a good article idea.
I’m going to reiterate this, booking everything before your trip will ensure you’ll be unable to enjoy it. Spontaneity is the spice of life, so if you want the dullest trip possible, sure, go ahead and book a year in advance and have an itinerary down to the minute. Can you tell how much I hate over-planning yet? You’ll end up spending a lot of money on unnecessary items and a whole host of other extras. You’ll be glad you didn’t when you realize how much you can save by following these backpacking tips. There are no shortcuts, and you need to take advantage of the opportunities that come along.
Talk with the Locals and Other Backpackers
Learn from others. Lots of people live where you’re going or have already done what you’re about to do, learn from them. Many location-specific backpacking tips are available online but got nothing on asking locals and other travellers to share their experiences with you. Did I just take a jab at my own site? Yes. We and many other sites do their best to give you up-to-date information that is useful, but the reality is that we’re not everywhere all at once and things change, constantly. Any travel site that tells you differently is lying straight to your face, well as much as they possibly can through a screen. Locals are the best way to get authentic advice. You can even get discounts from hostels. Moreover, you can ask for recommendations to help you plan your journey. The more locals you can reach, the more chances you’ll have in finding the perfect destination, activities, and of course, parties.
This relates to the above tip, Make Friends. My all-time 100% successful strategy for this is to sit at the bar. It’s the easiest way to make friends, even for the shiest of people. You can also do this by simply smiling, saying hello to people at your hostel, and asking them where they’re from. This is slightly less fun cause there’s not for sure alcohol involved but it works. Remember, everyone at that hostel is doing the same thing you are. They are open-minded, want to share stories, and make friends that will last a lifetime. Especially ones who live in countries that they want to visit. Most people will happily offer you a couch when you eventually visit their homeland. See, friends save you money.
During your trip, make friends with locals. You can also stay with them if you hit it off well enough, be careful of this though. Make sure they’re genuine before trusting them with that. Sharing stories with people you meet on the road will help you bond and make new friends. Aside from that, a good friend will be a great source of support when you’re on a trip. A lot of weird and unexpected things can happen when backpacking and it’s nice to have someone to talk to about it.
Right now I have a shredded foot because I smashed it into some coral while surfing in the Caribbean a couple of days ago. Good thing I made that med student friend the other night so he can tell me if it’s infected or not. Also, gave me a good tip that beer doesn’t sterilize wounds… who woulda thought?
Hostels Are Your Friend... Usually
For the most part, if you’re staying at a legitimate hostel and not some scummy sub 5.0 rating on Hostelworld one, the hostel staff can be your most trustworthy asset. They want to give you legitimate advice so that you give them a good rating and want to come back/recommend the place. Any question you have for them, there’s a good chance hundreds of other backpackers have already had that same question and they’ll give you a good answer. You may be a unique person, but not in this sense. So take advantage of this source of information.
One downside of even the best of hostels is that most events/tours/food/booze/etc. that are through them, are generally more expensive than if you went around town. But hey, that’s the price you pay for trustworthiness and convenience.
But like I said, not all hostels are trustworthy and not all staff have your best interest in mind, especially if you’re in Cambodia. Trust your gut!
Here’s a bonus video I found. Is it useful to watch? No idea. It just popped up and I haven’t watched it yet. Most likely I never will honestly. I’ve hit my work limit today so it’s time for me to go shotgun a beer and jump off a dock.
Let me know how it is.
There’s no better way to discover the world than by backpacking. It’s an excellent experience and will last a lifetime. I hope these tips help you out.
Now, let’s help each other out. Got your own tips that you want to share? Leave them in the comments below and lend a hand. After all, we are one massive worldwide community consisting of millions of people. Backpackers United!