Backpacking Tips - Top 10 Tips
Going backpacking in your gap year?
Backpacking around Europe is a popular way to spend a gap year break. Or maybe you've just decided to take a job break and do some backpack travelling; whichever, these backpacking tips are for you.
Before you head off backpacking in Europe make sure that you are well prepared. Gap year travel, and particularly backpacking, is a great adventure but there are a few things to know before you go.
Here are my top ten tips for backpackers and travelers: -
1)Get a Return Ticket
This may seem fundamental to most but I, like many others, set off on my first backpacking Europe trip with just a one way ticket. When the money ran out sooner than expected it was a major hassle getting back home. Make sure you have a (preferably open dated) return ticket with you.
2) Get a Guidebook or Two but Don't Plan Everything
Do some research and have an outline of your backpacking trip and possible places to stay (hostels are the best for meeting up with other backpackers and like-minded travellers) but aim to go with the flow and don't pre plan your trip too much. Don't try to pack in too many places. Backpacking Europe does not mean you have to visit every European capital in four weeks, or even four months. Relax, taste and feel the different culture, get to know the locals and immerse yourself a little.
3)Get Travel & Medical Insurance
Be covered for those accidents. You never know when you'll need it. There are many specific backpacking insurance plans available for young adults which are competitively priced.
4)Get a Money Belt
For your passport, ticket, bank cards & cash. Wear it under your clothes and don't show it when taking out money. Keep some cash in your pockets so that you don't have to 'reveal' your belt. Sleep with it, and the treasured contents, under your pillow or in your sleeping bag in dorms
5) Carry Little Cash & No Valuables
Experienced backpackers leave the bulk of their cash in the bank and their valuables at home. Spread your cash across 2 or 3 bank accounts and take 2 or 3 debit or credit cards in case one card malfunctions and refuses to dispense cash, or is lost or stolen. Don't keep all your cards together in one place.
GUIDEBOOKS FOR BACKPACKERS AND TRAVELLERS
Review of The Gap Year Book
'I am a traveler. I never took a "gap year" but during my backpacking trips I met a lot of "gappers" ... and I have to say that this book (which was a gift) is making me dream to take a GAP YEAR ... and on top of that there are really a lot of very good practical tips. Bottom line ... if you like to backpack ... read this book ... '
Review of The Rough Guide to First-Time Around the World
'The only advice we needed on the logistics of travel..
My wife and I used the first edition of this book to figure out the nuts and bolts of traveling around the world. It was absolutely invaluable. It gave excellent advice about what to pack (and what not to take) how to go about the planning process, and basics such as getting around, where to stay, etc. Throughout our 10 month long trip, I thought back on the book and appreciated the advice that we had received from it. I recommend this book to everyone I meet who is considering taking an extended trip. '
Backpacking is hard work! Whatever you take with you on your backpacking trip will be carried on your back for the duration. Obvious? Yes but it's amazing how heavy that backpack can become after you've lugged it on and off buses and trains numerous times. Travel light. Really really light. Wear a pair of comfy shoes and pack one more pair. One jacket, a couple of jumpers and t shirts, an extra pair of jeans, shorts. swimwear, towel. You shouldn't need much else.
7)Be aware of Personal Safety at all times
You'll meet lots of new people, other backpackers, travellers, locals, and you'll most likely end up chatting easily to strangers. Most of them will be good people, but not all of them. Girls should be particularly vigilant. Stay in touch with family. If immediate strangers ask, always tell them that your family or friends at home know exactly where you are, i.e which city you are in and the address where you are staying.
This from a female backpacker (me again!) who hitched thousands of miles in the 80's across France, Italy and Greece. Yes there are plenty of wierdos out there. You may feel there is safety in numbers but that's not always so. Catch the bus or the train, really it's worth it!
9) Get the contact number of your Embassy
If you get into trouble (for example with the police, crime, lose all your money/cards/passport) contact your country's Embassy in the country you are in. They can help make emergency arrangements and get you back home if need be (although they cannot pay for it).
The most important. This will probably be the one and only gap year or backpacking trip of your life. Savour the experience, enjoy the trip of a lifetime and all the new friends that you make.