Effective Backpacking Tips for First Timers

A girl is backpacking
Backpacking can be scary for some, especially first timers, but you shouldn't be afraid. Here are some backpacking tips we’ve used for years!

Ever wondered what it takes to travel on a budget? One of the most effective ways to travel and enjoy different parts of the world is to do backpacking. Backpacking can be a bit daunting for some, especially for first timers, but in reality, there’s no reason for you to be afraid.

What makes backpacking fun?

Backpacking can be fun in so many ways. For instance, you get to enjoy different tourist destinations for less.

A girl in Beijing

In reality, some places can be enjoyed for just a fraction of the price of advertised tours. And though I don’t have anything against folks who love to travel in style, there is always a more affordable alternative that is just as fun (if not, better!).

Next, it is also possible to immerse yourself in the new culture you are exposed to. This isn’t something you’ll experience with the usual tours from fancy hotels. If you are into exploring the best (and maybe the worst) delicacies that the locals love, or maybe seeing the road less travelled, then backpacking is a perfect fit for you.  

Backpacking tips for newbies and first timers

Backpacking doesn’t have to be stressful. In fact, it is becoming more and more common these days to see people do backpacking either in solo or in groups. Here are some tips we’ve used through the years.

Tip 1: Pack light

You don’t want to be carrying your entire house with you. Not only is it going to be tiring, it can also be stressful on your part to carry so much stuff that you won’t really need. Always strip down your backpack to the bare essentials.

Packing item list - backpacking tips

This can also make your airfare cheaper if you know how to travel light.

Tip 2: Choose places that you can afford

Not all places are for backpackers with a small budget. There will be places wherein you will be spending more money than others. If it is your first time to do backpacking, start by having a budget. Next, you want to make sure that you estimate how many days you are staying on the road. And lastly, consider places that don’t require a lot of moolah to enjoy the city or the town’s sights and sounds.

Taipei, Thailand

One of the reasons why Bangkok, Phuket and other parts of Thailand are popular among backpackers is because of the low cost of living in the country.

Tip 3: Consider a hostel or Air BnB

Where do I sleep? This is the most common question that first-time backpackers ask. Fortunately, you now have Air BnB as an option. It is sometimes just as cheap as hostels, but typically with better service.

Hostel

But when choosing a hostel or Air BnB, always make sure that you consider its proximity to the places you want to visit.

A girl in a hotel

You don’t want to be spending so much money on cabs every night because it is inaccessible to buses and trains at night.

Tip 4: Always have a working phone and the internet

Thanks to modern marvels of technology, it is easy to travel to countries that don’t speak your language. It is easy to find direction and not waste time roaming around aimlessly. In addition to this, you always want to have contact with the outside world and the family you left back home unless you want to re-live Christopher McCandless’ Into the Wild adventure.

Using phone

Another thing that can come in handy is a power bank and a laptop. A lot of hostels and Air BnBs provide free WiFi which allows you to email and even upload photos of your travel. Also, a spare battery or a power bank for your phone can be a lifesaver especially if you are spending a lot of time outside.  

Tip 5: Do what the Romans do

Tourist traps cost a lot of money. As rule of thumb, a backpacker should always do what the Romans do. Where do the locals eat? Don’t be afraid to ask the locals in order to figure out where the best deal is. Also, always do extensive research before you go to a particular place so you know where to find the healthy food in the world when living a healthy lifestyle.

Stinky tofu in Taiwan

Also, observe what they typically do. Do they place their backpacks in front of them while commuting to avoid pickpockets? Or what are their usual customs? Do they bow after a conversation?

Tip 6: Do it with a group

If a solo backpacking trip is a bit scary for you, you can always do it with a bunch of friends. But of course, not everyone has like-minded friends with a taste for some backpacking adventure.

Group tour in North Korea

If not, you can do it with new friends you meet along the way when staying in hostels or bed and breakfast accommodations.

Tip 7: Do extensive research regarding public transport options

If you’ll do an accounting of your travel, you’ll notice that a huge chunk will go to your commute expenses. It is always a good idea that you do extensive research regarding available public transportation options. What are the cheapest means of getting to your hostel from the airport? What are the usual public transport options that you can take? For places like Tokyo, you’ll most likely end up using their convenient trains to get from point A to point B. However, this isn’t always the case everywhere you travel. Some countries require a bit more improvisation than others.

There are also some instances when you can save some money going for pre-paid train passes that allow you to use the transit systems for a certain number of days. If you’ll be travelling a lot, then this might work for you.

Tip 8: Protect yourself at all times

Whether you are travelling in South East Asia or Europe, there’s always that possibility of encountering scam artists. Aside from your cash and credit cards, you also want to protect your IDs. It is always a good idea to scatter the locations where you keep your money. You can place some of your cash in hidden pockets of your bag, heck you can even keep some bills on unused socks placed safely in your backpack.

Travel written on the sand

A money belt can come in handy for any traveller. And lastly, if you are travelling in some foreign country, always have a number and address of your home country’s embassy.

Backpacking can be a liberating way to travel. It proves that you don’t have to be a millionaire to enjoy exotic locations around the world. If done right, it can be an amazing experience whether you do it solo or with some like-minded backpackers. Hopefully, these tips gave you a reason to do some backpacking.

Have you tried any of these tips? Feel free to leave a comment below.  

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