7 Tips on How to Live as a Backpacker

 Pakhi Sen   June 23, 2013
How To Travel

Backpacking is becoming an increasingly popular way of traveling. Those in the 18-25 year old demographic make up the majority of backpacking travelers around the world. Backpacking is nothing new – travelers have roamed with nothing, but what’s in the sacks on their backs for hundreds of years. However, it does provide an experience that traditional methods of vacationing with hotel rooms and such cannot offer. Backpacking allows you to see the sights in a more personal way, just as it allows you to interact with locals on a more personal level.

You may want to take a backpacking trip yourself, but have no idea where to start on your journey. We can help. In this article, we’re going to show you seven handy tips for living as a backpacker and provide you with all the information you need to know before embarking on your journey.

Backpacker

Backpacker – Source

1. Decide when and where you want to backpack.

The location where you will be backpacking will determine most everything else about your trip. It will dictate how you pack, how much you spend, where you will stay and how you will get by. Once you have made that decision, decide when you will backpack. The winter months in some regions may be starkly different than the summer months and seasonal weather may make backpacking in your desired location impossible. Research this information thoroughly before you plan your trip.

2. Decide where you will stay.

Once you know where you’re going and when, you can do some in depth research of the area to find out if backpacker accommodations are available. There are numerous hostels for backpackers across the world where they can stay in dorm like settings with other backpackers passing through. The fee is very cheap for these places and can really help your budget while giving you the chance to network with other backpackers. Camping is another cheap option, but requires packing more gear than you would need otherwise. Hotels and motels would be the most luxurious way to go, but also the most expensive. If you take the time to plan your trip thoroughly, you can likely come up with a combination of suitable accommodations that is budget-friendly.

3. Prepare your paperwork, get immunizations and insurance.

These are things that all travelers need, but most often always overlook some aspect of them. You can get a backpacker’s insurance policy for fairly cheap that will take care of you if you get sick or injured on your trip. It will cost exponentially more to get treated for your injuries if you do not have insurance, than it does to take out a policy. Make sure you research the area and find out which immunizations are required and that yours are up to date. Make copies of important papers and ID and store them in separate, secure locations.

4. Brush up on the culture and customs of your intended destinations.

Offending someone of a different culture is quite easy to do, especially when you aren’t aware of their customs. Educate yourself on the habits of the people you are likely to encounter, familiarize yourself with the food, the religion and the traditions of the locals so that you can do your best to fit in and keep on the good side of strangers. On a side note, it’s important that you research the laws in the places you intend to visit because in some countries you could be jailed for something as simple as taking a photograph. Ignorance of the law is no excuse and having to fight a legal battle in a foreign country is not only costly, it can also be a scary and unfamiliar process.

5. Be prepared to be cut off from the grid.

Even though Internet and cell phone service are global industries now, there are still places in the world where access to either is sporadic at best. Check to see if there are any WiFi points along your intended route so that you can check emails and keep in touch with home, if need be. Be advised that the service may not be free so plan for those charges in your budget. Check with your cell provider to see if they will have coverage in the area you will be traveling in. Also be sure to invest in an international calling plan for your cell phone while you are abroad as to not incur roaming charges. Alternately, you could invest in a cheap pre-paid phone from your intended destination for the duration of your trip.

6. Have a flexible schedule.

You never know what you’re going to find while backpacking across the country so be sure that your schedule allows for extra time to explore the places you find most interesting. Also allow time for bad weather, emergencies and other unexpected events. It’s better to have excess time on your hands toward the end of your trip than to cut yourself short and miss out on the things you wanted to experience by having to rush to the next point on the map.

7. Do as the locals do.

Interacting as much as possible with the locals will not only help make your travels easier, it will also help you get the most out of your experience. Use public transportation as much as you can and eat where the locals do. They will know the best places to get the best deals on everything from food to clothing to lodging. Locals will also know the best places to see the sights and will be able to offer an insider’s perspective of the area that no travel book or written guide could give you.

Remember to only drink bottled water, keep sanitizer on hand to clean your hand when water is not available and to travel with basic medications and first aid supplies. Keep warm and dry at all times to ward off illnesses and don’t forget to pack the insect repellant.

The most important rules for living as a backpacker is travel light, but prepare for the unexpected. Backpacking can provide you with some awesome and memorable experiences that traveling in other forms cannot. However, backpackers also face lots of challenges that regular travelers don’t – so taking extra safety precautions is a must.

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