Ever wonder what to do on your first backpacking trip? I recalled mine being super paranoid swirling around the possibility of being mugged and lost when I did my prep. So, what I did was to lug everything I thought I needed into my 50 liter backpack for just a weekend trip. I was that rookie and at that time I wished someone would tell me differently.
Backpacking is a totally different way of travel. In my opinion, it is stripping to the bare minimum. People often get confused with forgoing the luxury and the comforts on a holiday when you backpack but 99 percent of the time they got it wrong. Backpacking can be luxurious, they can be super comfortable as well if you know where to go and what to do. Being exposed to this community, I realized that backpacking is something we Asians dont understand just yet. But if you are planning on one, here are a few pointers and tips to get you started.
1. Right mindset
Having the right mindset is really important. There is a high chance of you arriving to this article is thinking of going to someplace alone. You have craved for adventure or trying to achieve a milestone of your life by doing something absolutely bold however, you just dont have the shove to jump just yet. When you travel alone there are some things that you have to keep in mind. You have to ask yourself, what do you want to see and what do you want to experience in that foreign country of your choice.
Knowing what you want to do contributes to making a steady plan of what to do and where to go on your holiday. Look at it like setting a little goal or a milestone. Travelling alone could be a prefect scenario to learn to be more independent and self aware about your surroundings. Going to somewhere foreign with no one you know might be intimidating, you learn to be social, you make new friends and at times you meet weird people. Through my travels, I have met people of all sorts but new friends that I met had made my experiences a million times better. So open up, but be cautious and prepare to get in tune with yourself sans the family, friends, work and many more. Backpacking is a platform for self discovery. Be prepared for it and just go with it.
2. Do your homework.
This is the second most valuable thing to consider when it comes to your first solo trip. Doing major research could save you valuable time, money and set your mind to what to expect on your trip. I am not going to talk about booking cheap flight tickets using the incognito tab and purchasing tickets early in this. (It’s the universal rule of the travelling bible.)
Planning on where to stay and how to get to the airport is a good place to start. This is the major structure of your plan because your trip will revolve around the neighborhood of your hostel. On another note, you should take note on the accessibility of your hostel. Easier access equates to getting everywhere without the hassle. By doing your research, you can plan your finances better, skip the scams and filter the expensive tours which will eventually blow your budget sky high.
3. Book a good rating hostel.
The experience of backpacking is keeping things on the low without sacrificing the comfort and accessibility. Getting to know your neighborhood through your homework gives you an idea on where you should stay. Booking a hostel is very important when it comes to safety and comfort. Choosing the right hostel could make or break your backpacking trip. Quick tip on that is to cross reference the ratings of your hostel with multiple sources. The best bet to do this is with Tripadvisor. Tripadvisor has tons of guest photos and unbiased reviews. Reviews from booking platforms can give you an idea on the place itself but real photos from fellow guests tells you more than what meets the eye. Get a good hostel which suits your budget, great access to transport, comfortable facilities are the trinity of what makes a great choice.
4. Emergency money on standby
Travelling alone without a familiar soul demands a great deal of self responsibility and independence. Before departing, make sure you have back up finances accessible when you are in a foreign country. Always remember that the perfectly planned trips could easily take a turn to the unexpected. Creating access to emergency cash can often be a life saver in many instances. If you ever get lost, robbed or have under planned your budget, it is good to know that you have prepped a safety net to get yourself out of trouble. Activate your ATM card for overseas withdrawal and grab your credit card as a spare. Having no cash in a foreign country is a very tricky situation to be in.
5. Right stuff is not more stuff
In many touristy places, you would probably think if you didn’t bring it you could buy it. This is partly true but it is not applicable to most of these scenarios. Having your luggage in order can save you tons of time. Packing right is what most people get wrong. Mixing and matching your clothing can lighten your load. Given the requirements of many budget airlines with tiny baggage allowances, packing light can make you more mobile and keeping your belongings in check on the move. But what if i ran out of clothes, well if that is the case, the reception of the hostel can point you to the nearest laundry service or use the hostel laundry facilities. Moving on to the digital needs. Bringing along your Powerbank is a must when you are out the whole time. Not only it keeps your phone at all times for safety but you can use your phone for more photos and information to get around.
6. Get mobile internet
Last thing that you have on your plan is to get mobile internet. Check the price of getting one and get it going on your phone. You might think of ditching this and relying on free wifi in your hostel. Take my advice, getting mobile internet opens up the world to you. When you are travelling alone, one of the biggest importance is access to communication. Having that wherever you go gives you a sense of security and connectivity with your loved ones at home. Moreover, having internet is essential to get on the go information and access to maps to get your bearings. On the other hand, it eliminates language barriers if you are going to places where English is not used as a first language.
7. Have fun
On more final advice to take this into heart is to have fun. Learn to get lost, follow off the beaten path (cautiously ofcourse… ), make new friends and much more. I am sure taking this leap would not be a forgettable one. You will encounter instances where every decision you make gives you total unprecedented control on the outcome of your journey. That is what give you the rush of it. The rush of discovering , endless adventure and a little bit of not knowing makes people travel for years on and on. So get ahead, get confident and make your first leap into this adventure. I promise you when you know how to swim and stay afloat, it is hard to get out of it.