The Dos and Don'ts of a Backpacking Tour
First-time traveller hitting a backpacking tour? Good choice. The road awaits and it’s going to be epic. You’re going to experience new places and meet oodles of new people. You’re going to broaden the horizons and break the comfort zone.
You’re going to swim in distant oceans and delve into far-off wilds, taste interesting foods and sip tipples you might never have heard of! First though, let’s set some things straight: the dos and don’ts of life on that backpacking tour…
Vague, perhaps, but nonetheless a truism for first-timers on a backpacking tour. Being open-minded actually covers a whole host of the dos when hitting the road. And it will spread good vibes throughout your group. It will mean not judging your new backpacking pals for who they are and where they come from. It will help you embrace the new – and often strange – cultures and characters around you. It will get you tasting different foods and experiencing other faiths. It will ensure you squeeze the last drop of adventure from every moment spent away from home.
Remember: It’s never too early for a beer
Backpacking tours might be more than a holiday, but boy does the holiday vibe ring true! And holidays mean chillaxing, relaxing and…beer. A not-so-wise person once said that there are very few problems in the world that can’t be solved by simply settling down for a cold one, clearing the mind and watching the world go by. Agree or not, the upshot here is that it pays to remember you’re supposed to be enjoying yourself, and part of that is knowing that you (within reason, of course) can do whatever you want, whenever you want!
Skip the small talk
“Where’re you from?” “Where’ve you been?” “Where’re you going next?” AHMAGAD! The same questions all the time, over and over and over again. Backpackers, on the whole, are a really outgoing bunch. They like to chat and share stories, tell tall tales and forge new friendships. But that process doesn’t have to mean always starting with the same set of accepted asks. To mix things up, try initiating the conversation with something a little different. Hit the foosball table perhaps, crack a beer (remember the last do?), or talk about food. Everyone likes food!
One of the main arguments against taking a backpacking tour is that travellers loose that all-important spontaneity. But in all of LBW’s years of getting folk around the globe, we’ve never found anything to be more untrue. In fact, backpacking tours can help to bolster that spontaneous side, by tantalizing travellers with just a sampling of what a destination offers, and daring them to discover the rest. A backpacking tour also puts you in the company of likeminded people, meaning you’re likely to be surrounded by people to egg that spontaneity on.
Talk to the locals
Sometimes it can be tricky to break out of the clique offered by a backpacking tour. You have your new friends, you’re all bonding and forging relationships for life. That’s all you need, right? Well, maybe not. Keep in mind that you’re going to be hitting new places all the time; new places with their very own locals and local characters. You won’t want to miss these either, so be sure to set some time aside on the road to interact with the people you meet there. That’s one of the things that sets a tourist apart from a traveller!
Remember: Your backpacking buddies aren’t a 7-11! They aren’t toothpaste dispensers or DEET machines. So, if you find you’re out of something, the best thing to do is go and get some more! Yes, asking once or twice will never be a problem, but when you start squirting out a travel partner’s Lynx spray like it’s nobody’s business or dousing yourself in the herbal soaps that were intended as gifts for the folk back home, perhaps it’s time you took a long, hard look in the mirror (and not just to see how nice those borrowed cosmetics have made you look!).
Alright, so while it’s totally fine to pinch the odd biscuit on the beach and swoop in for that surreptitious lick of an ice cream from your new travel buddies, there are also some pretty well-laid boundaries when it comes to food on most backpacking tours. In Asia it’s rarely a problem – after all, a platter of steaming pad Thai will only set you back a handful of baht on Khaosan Road. But in Europe and North America, you’ve got to be alert to the fact that nosh can mean dosh! Pasta platters and French baguettes aren’t pennies you know, so always be sure to contribute if you want to munch…
Playing guitar in the hostel
Yea, we’ve all been there: chilling with a beer, shooting some pool, chatting about that cool club on Khaosan Road from the night before, or extolling tales of how we were the fastest to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Then a twang, and a second. A strum, and they’re away. Forget the conversation you were having, because that floppy-haired, self-proclaimed John Lennon in the corner has started serenading the whole darn hostel. We’re not saying that there’s never a good time to knock out a ditty in the common room. Just that it’s not always welcome!
Hogging the bottom bunks
Hopping from hostel to hostel can be a tiring business. But hopping from hostel to hostel and always being relegated to the top bunk can be an uber-tiring one. Yes, there are some odd bods out there who actually like being unceremoniously sandwiched between the ceiling and their snoring pals, but most sensible people will always prefer the bottom. You get more room to dump your clothes, and you can stumble in drunk without needing to scale some rickety ladder! In short: good mates on a backpacking tour will share the privilege of being down below…
Dorm room antics
It’s not just the late-night frolickers who piss people off in hostels, although all that tossing and turning and smooching in the bed never helped send anyone off to Lala Land! In fact, there are a whole host of annoying after dark habits that backpackers can get up to. So many that there’s probably scope for an entire travel guide about them. These include, but are not limited to: snoring like a mad person; leaving dirty clothes sprawled out over the floor; soiling the toilet; rinsing the toilet paper; causing a racket when drunk; accidentally setting uber-early alarms. Oh, and sleepy folk are easy to annoy - you’ve been warned.
Can you think of any more dos and don’ts of backpacking tour to add to this list? We’d love to hear about them below. Or, if you want to get on the road and start exploring, check out LBW’s offering of itineraries…