19 Essential Backpacking Tips

Yogi Shah , 26 Jul 2013

Backpacking is a great way to experience a destination. It gives you a chance to get right down to it, soak in the local culture and see the place as a local (or as close to one as you can get).

Most Indians get intimidated by the word ‘backpacking’ because by and large we have the wrong perception of it. It doesn’t have to mean scrimping or compromising on hygiene. In fact, many hostels abroad are neat and maintain high levels of cleanliness, especially the bathrooms and toilets. They also have women-only dorms.

Aside from being more economical than regular tours, it can also be more fun. Keep the following pointers in mind and you are guaranteed to have an enjoyable and memorable backpacking trip.

Avalon House, Dublin
Avalon House, Dublin

1) Sharpen your cooking skills 

Most hostel kitchens allow cooking so it’s a good idea to buy ingredients from the local market and take a shot at making something indigenous. Hey, at least you will get to smell and taste the local produce.

2) The best parties are in hostel bars

It’s true. Most backpackers hit the hostel bar instead of the local brewery making it a happening nightspot. It’s also a good way to save up on transport and a trip back home while pixilated.

3) Get some exercise and walk

Choose a hostel which is close to the city centre. Chances are that the important tourist spots will also be close by, making it easier to walk to them instead of relying on buses or cabs.

4) Track free days in museums

Most museums around the world have entry-free days. Look out for them. Also inquire about city cards that will give you access to multiple tourist places.

5) Be well-sacked!

Having a good haversack to travel with is a backpacking trip well started. Make sure it sits well on your back so that even if it is full, it doesn’t feel heavy. It also makes walking everywhere easier.

USA Hostels, Hollywood
USA Hostels, Hollywood

6) Belt your cash

Always use a money belt while travelling. It will keep your cash safe as it is always on your person, which ensures that you don’t leave it anywhere

7) Scan it

It’s always a good idea to scan all your important documents and email them to yourself. So even if you’re clumsy enough to lose the duplicate copies, you still have the scanned ones.

8) Find free Wi-Fi

You’re probably already an expert at tracking down free Wi-Fi. Extend that skill while backpacking as well. Starbucks is a good place to start.

9) Keep walking

Since you will be walking to most places, it’s a good idea to invest in a good pair of walking shoes. It never fails.

10) Go with an open mind

Backpacking gives you plenty of opportunities to meet interesting, like-minded people. Forging friendships will give your trip that happy edge that can only come from breaking those walls down.

The Backpack and Africa Travel Centre, Cape Town, South Africa
The Backpack and Africa Travel Centre, Cape Town, South Africa

11) Use a forex card

Save on transaction costs while travelling abroad and use a forex card instead of your debit or credit cards. Don’t forget to top it up!

12) Carry medication

Whether it’s anti-allergy, paracetamol, or something stronger, it’s always a good idea to carry the essentials.

13) Eat where the locals do

Find out where the locals flock to. Eating at local joints is cheaper and ensures better food than mainstream food courts in popular squares where rates are higher.

14) Chuck the cab

Do city sightseeing using public transport. For intercity travel, use trains instead of domestic flights. It’s cheaper and worth the view.

15) Don’t get spiked

Be careful while drinking in crowded places. In shadier locations, there may be chances of your drink getting spiked. So keep those eyes open.

360 Hostel, Barcelona
360 Hostel, Barcelona

16) Do as the Romans do

Not speak Latin, of course, but enjoy what the locals enjoy. Try the local dishes and drink the local alcohol. For instance, try raki when in Turkey.

17) Keep it clean

Most hostels have laundromats so carry detergent suds. Backpacking doesn’t mean you stay dirty!

18) Speak the language

It always helps to brush up on important local phrases, like ‘Where’s the restroom?’ and ‘Does red suit me?’ You could even get an extra drink or a free dish if you say the right thing at the right time.

19) Carry me home

Always carry your hostel card with you when you go out in the night. If not by night, you’ll at least find your way back in the morning.

If these tips have tempted you to go on a backpacking trip, you can join us for our upcoming Oktoberfest 2013 trip to Munich. Check our website www.thebackpackerco.com for more details.

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