8 Things You Should Know Before Going on Your First Backpacking TripBy Angelica Malin
Backpacking is all the rage right now and is slowly becoming a rite of passage for many travel lovers. However, most people have a romantic view of backpacking but aren’t prepared for the uncertainty that comes with it. Going backpacking can be a great way to expand your horizons and discover aspects of your character you never knew you had before, but it can also turn into a nightmare if you aren’t prepared to face everything that might get thrown at you.
In this article, we share some of the things you should know before embarking on your first backpacking experience.
Plan Your Accommodation Early
This is one of the most common mistakes people make when going on a backpacking trip. Backpacking trips can end up being last-minute affairs and often, people don’t know what their destination will be until a few weeks before they leave. However, it pays to be prepared and arrange for your accommodation as soon as possible.
Booking and HostelWorld are two great sites to search for places to stay. You’ll be able to find discounted hotels, apartments, guesthouses and hostels. Your success on finding accomodation will depend on when and where you’re going. If you are thinking of travelling to Southeast Asia, for instance, you’ll probably be able to find something last minute, unless it’s the high season. But if you were thinking of going somewhere like Spain or Portugal, finding accommodation might be more difficult.
Wherever you go, always ask to see multiple rooms if you’re visiting guest houses. The reason for this is that many renters will show you their underperforming lodgings to swindle unsuspecting backpackers into taking them. But most of the time, they’ll have other lodgings available as well, so make sure you always ask to see more than one.
Be Prepared for Delays and Cancellations
If you’re going across countries and planning on taking multiple connecting flights, then you have to be prepared for cancellations. You should always have your airline’s customer service phone number on hand in case anything goes wrong. You’ll often be able to get better and faster service when you connect with them directly instead of dealing with the airport staff.
You should also be aware of your rights and be ready to seek compensation for a cancelled flight. Flight delays can mean unforseen costs for you the traveller, so it’s vital to know that if you are eligible for flight delay cancellation, an airline can pay you up to €600 for your flight inconvenience.
If you are keen to know more about your air passenger rights and you want support getting the compensation you deserve, visit AirHelp.com.
Get Familiar with the Transit System
If you’re travelling during the night, you’ll have to be ready to go as soon as you get there. You can’t afford to be disoriented. You should already know how to get to your accommodation from the airport and how much it will cost you.
But you should also study the place’s transit system in detail before you leave. Get a map of their underground system if they have one and know which important destinations you’ll have to familiarise yourself.
If it helps, start planning imaginary trips to random destinations and try to imagine how to get there. This will get you prepared once you have to do it in real time.
Learn how to Haggle
In most places around the world, bargaining is very common and part of the local culture. Make sure that you learn a few tricks before departing on your trip so you don’t end up being taken advantage of. Some general tips include never being too excited when you see an item you like and make it clear that you are ready to leave if you don’t get the price you’ve bargained for.
Remember that as a visitor, you’ll probably be taxed, so don’t take it personally and play ball if you want to get better prices. Whether it’s at the market, hailing a cab, or even booking a room, never be afraid to ask for a discount.
Always Bring Multiple Currencies with You
You might assume that everywhere you go will accept the local currency. But changing all your money in local currency once you get there is a huge mistake. Many countries around the world where the local currency is devalued will rather you pay in US dollars. And getting foreign currency is not always easy depending on where you’re going. So, keep a little local currency for small purchases, but always try to know which currency is more widely accepted.
And you should make sure that you always have enough money with you. I know many people will advise that you shouldn’t carry too much cash with you; but you just never know if you’ll be able to get access to an ATM or if it’ll even work if you find one. And the same goes for credit cards as well. You just can’t assume there’ll be a functioning terminal anywhere you go. So, you should at least have around £150 to £200 on you if you can, in addition to your credit and ATM card (especially if you just landed).
Have a Clear Budget in Mind
You should either have an online spreadsheet, a notebook, or a mobile app ready on your smartphone to help you track your expenses. Life abroad can be so much cheaper, and it’s easy to start splurging on nights out for dinner or overindulging at times. If your budget is £40 for the day, then make sure that you subtract your lodging costs; everything else is fair game. You don’t have to go into full details about how you will spend your money once the essentials are covered.
Keep your Valuables Close in Between Destinations
When travelling from destination to destination, larger luggage may be a pain to lug around, quite literally. So it’s best to back exactly what you need.
As well as your primary and larger luggage, you will need another smaller bag to store your money, electronics and passport on you at all times. If you’re going overnight, make sure that the bag can be locked and use it as a pillow or keep it as close to your body as possible.
Be Ready to Break Out of Your Shell
You can’t expect to make it in a foreign destination if you aren’t ready to reach out to others. You’ll be dependent on locals for a large portion of your trip and they’ll be able to give you some valuable and sometimes life-saving tips once you get there.
Locals have the knowledge and experience to give you a better idea of places that are safe, tourist traps and places to avoid. They may also be able to direct you towards hidden gems or even take you in for the night. Socialising with people outside your circle or other expats will not only allow you to immerse yourself much deeper into the country and the culture; it will make you a much more savvy traveller as well.
Going on a backpacking trip can be a truly life-changing experience. However, taking the proper precautions will ensure you get the most out of your trip.