The biggest decision has been made- you’ve decided where you’re going to go on your next adventure, and your flights are booked! Now, it’s time to start getting prepared for backpacking.
How to prepare for your backpacking trip
So, where do you start? What sort of things do you need to consider before you head off on the backpacking trip of a lifetime?
Today we are going to take a look at how to prepare yourself for your next backpacking trip.
1. Set your budget
It’s so important to set a budget for your big trip. This is admittedly the boring part, where you need to sit down and decide, realistically, how much to set aside for each day of your travels.
Are you going to allow for the occasional splurge? What are the things you absolutely have to do, and how much are they going to cost? This is crucial when asking yourself how to prepare for backpacking. Mathew Backholer’s Guide to Budget Travel could help you here.
You will need to do a little bit of research on currency, exchange rates, and the average cost for things like food, accommodation, and transport in your destination(s). Everyone has different priorities and different ideas of what a “budget” means to them. Figure out what works for you, and make sure you allow movement for any emergency expenses.
2. Check visa and passport requirements
You may need a travel visa for your destination, or need to meet certain passport requirements – this is essential for how to prepare for backpacking.
Countries may require you to have at least six months left on your passport, as well as a certain number of pages. It’s important to check all of this before you travel.
Make sure you know which visa(s) you need, if you’ll receive visas on entry or need to apply ahead of time, and what the passport requirements are in your destination country. If you are hoping to work as you travel, you will likely need a visa for this as well. Make sure to apply well ahead, so as to avoid any unwanted roadblocks. We have a full Passport Guide to help you out.
3. Download travel apps
Internet isn’t always the most reliable when backpacking. Though web access is now much better than it was once (I’m looking at you internet cafes), it is still best to be prepared.
Downloading apps such as Maps.Me -a map app that works offline- ensures that if your internet drops out at an inopportune time, you will still be able to find your way to where you need to be. This is also massively important for staying safe while backpacking.
Other popular apps include TripIt (an organizational app), Hostelworld, Google Translate, and Splitwise. Splitwise is for keeping track of payments, and it works in a way that allows you to log how many people you’re travelling with and split bills between all of you, keeping track of who owes what.
4. Travel Insurance
Ahhh, travel insurance. You hope you never have to use it, but if you need it you’re going to be thankful you have it.
Key requirements of a good insurance policy include:
- Medical Coverage
- Coverage for flight cancellations or other travel upsets
- Lost luggage
There are many factors to consider when purchasing travel insurance. Companies differ not only what they cover, but what the deductibles are for each claim, too.
Thankfully, companies like World Nomad and SafetyWing cater directly to backpackers and can help narrow down which option is best for you.
5. Country culture
Once you’ve set your budget and checked off all the boring tasks like budgets and insurance, it’s time to get into the good stuff on your backpacking checklist.
Now, you need to familiarise yourself with the cultural differences between your home country and where you’re planning to visit.
For example, when travelling in Morocco, it is appropriate for women to keep their shoulders and legs covered, particularly when visiting religious sites. In Japan, on the other hand, it is considered a cultural misstep to place your chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice—this indicates you are offering rice to the dead!
In addition to avoiding easy-to-make faux pas, there are also other, more practical reasons, to take into account cultural differences, such as safety. If you’re from the UK and planning to travel to Central America, you will want to be well aware that they drive on the opposite side of the road. To sum it up, the more research you do, the less likely you’ll be caught out in an embarrassing situation.
When it comes to packing, everyone seems to have an opinion on the right way to do it. However, the one thing that remains consistent across the board is to pack light!
After twenty minutes of walking in the hot sun, your backpack is going to feel ten times heavier than how it started out. Also, packing light means you have enough room to add a few purchases along the way. Creating a backpacking checklist can help.
Another thing to consider is what other bags you’re going to need. Your backpack will be where you keep the majority of your clothing, but you will likely want a daypack as well, and possibly even a smaller bag for carrying important items such as your passport and money.
These days, there are many items available to help make packing easier. Packing cubes help to keep clothes bundled and compressed, and also prioritize space. All-in-one travel adaptors and chargers can help reduce the number of electronic cords and plugs you’re bringing with you. Our top tip is to pack a sarong or microfibre towel – these fold up small, dry easily, and can double as a beach towel, shower towel, and something to sit on outside.
7. Get to know the language
It’s pretty obvious that language could become one of the biggest barriers on your travels.
While many people around the world speak English—particularly in those countries that cater to tourists—not everyone does. Furthermore, if you have chosen to backpack, chances are you are looking for the chance to immerse yourself in the culture of another country. Part of this is language – and it’s an important step of how to prepare for backpacking.
By learning a few keywords in your destination’s language, you’ll be able to travel easier while showing respect to the country you are visiting. People love to see travellers who make an effort, so learn how to say please, thank-you, and a few other polite phrases before you go.
How to prepare for backpacking
Preparing for a backpacking trip may seem daunting, but it can save you a lot of hassle in the long run. Doing your research ahead of time means more time to enjoy your trip, and less worry that something will go wrong.
Plus, if you do a good enough job preparing, if something does go wrong, you’ll have it covered! Use this backpacking checklist to make sure you’re ready and raring to go on your next trip.
Just because you aren’t going to the gym, doesn’t mean you can’t get in a great workout! Get out there and walk, hike, bike, kayak, climb, or whatever you feel like doing. To stay fit while travelling, all you need to do is get outside, get involved, and have fun while doing it.