Whether you are accustomed to all-inclusive resort-type vacations, or are new to traveling entirely, the idea of backpacking can seem quite daunting. Breaking out of your comfort zone and having to pack up all of your necessities for an extended period of time into one bag is not an easy feat.
Nonetheless, it is something that I highly suggest that you put on your bucket list and conquer head on. Here are 4 tips for those that are new to the backpacking world: read, learn, and explore, Newbies!
(1) Pick a Partner in Crime
This, I would argue, may be the most important step in your backpacking process. Deciding on whom you wish to travel with is not a decision to take lightly. As you will likely be spending the majority of your time next to them, it is important that you find a partner who shares similar goals in their travels. By that, I mean find someone who has the same ideas on what they would like to see and achieve from your adventure. Whether that means finding someone that wants to dive in head-first into the cultural practices and fully explore each area, or finding someone that wants to visit every pub in Europe, that is what you must find! There’s nothing worse than being stuck with someone who is on a complete different schedule from you, and jeopardizing each other’s travels. It may be the case that you believe joining a group may be the ideal way to start off your backpacking adventure. This is a great way to meet a variety of people, and be introduced to the country of choice by a guide who is well acquainted with the area. This will take the pressure off choosing one person to go with, as you will undoubtedly meet at least one other person that shares your same travel priorities! Otherwise, there’s nothing like some quality time with the only person in the world that shares the exact same travel goals as you – you! As Dr. Seuss once said, “there’s no one alive that’s you-er than you…” If you are adventurous enough to hop on an adventure as a solo traveler, the more power to you! I wrote a blog on solo traveling a while back; take a look at it if this might suit you, Solo Traveling.
(2) Choose Your Own Adventure
Now is time for the fun part! Where do you want to go in the world? Take some time and research various locations, and figure out a plan of action. How much time do you have to explore your destination(s)? Backpacking can be quite tiresome, so especially for your first trip, try and plan to be able to stay in each stop for at least a few days to get a fulfilling view of the area, and to be able to let your body relax. Otherwise, you will find yourself too tired to enjoy your surroundings if you are constantly on the move. The statement “stop to smell the roses” has a lot of meaning in the backpacking lifestyle; if you are constantly trekking, you haven’t allowed yourself to embrace the magnificent surroundings around you. Regardless, pick your top destination for this trip, and work around it. For instance, if you need to be on the beach in Koh Phangan during the Full Moon Party, make sure you schedule yourself accordingly! It is very likely that your plans will change once you are backpacking. You may find that a place you planned on staying at for a week turns out to not be grasping your attention – but you just heard about this amazing island just a boat ride away that sounds like the perfect place to go instead! The backpacking lifestyle isn’t just about moving on your feet, you have to let yourself make decisions on the go, when opportunities arise. You will come across people and places that weren’t in your initial travel plans – embrace the chance to fly by the seat of your pants and be spontaneous!
(3) Make a Budget
Now is the NOT so fun part – making a budget (booooo!) Although not a necessarily fun aspect (unless you are a Type A person that lives for this stuff), it is extremely important. Especially if you are going away for an extended period of time, it is vital that you manage your money wisely. Research what average meals cost!
My words (or anyone else’s, for that matter) can never even begin to describe what traveling can do for you. Traveling not only reveals a whole new world to your eyes, it allows you to discover more about yourself than you ever could have imagined possible. It thrusts you past your comfort zone, and truly urges you to open up your mind to the vast possibilities that surround you.
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