I did my first backpacking trip in Thailand way back 2011 in the middle of a disastrous flood and maybe I knocked my head on a hard surface or something because, for some reason, I didn’t Google anything beforehand. And guess what? I had the most epic trip of my life! I went to Cambodia on a side trip, riding a six-hour train with rigid, uncomfortable seats, arriving at the outskirts of the country, flabbergasted, thinking I might get stabbed and die any minute. But I thanked the heavens for the flood because Angkor Wat was the most exquisite temple I’ve seen in my entire life!
Spontaneity is one of the perks in backpacking. It’s good to play everything by ear when backpacking but it’s great to be prepared to make sure you go home taking unforgettable memories with you. Here are the top 10 backpacking tips and hacks for beginners:
#1 Invest in the Best Backpacks
Obviously, you’re not going to sit around and count passing cars. You’re going to be doing a lot of hiking in the outdoors and walking in different cities. So it’s crucial to bring the best tactical backpacks which are light and functional at the same time.
#2 Pack Light or Go Home
Packing unnecessary and bulky stuff will wear and slow you down. It’s essential to check the weather first so you’ll know what appropriate gear to bring. When I travel during summer, I bring easy breezy dresses and rolling them always does the trick!
#3 Always Bring Your Passport and Important Documents
It’s just plain stupid (pardon my bluntness) to leave your passport and important documents in your hostel when backpacking. You will need them for impromptu flights and authority checks.
#4 Prepare Like a Good Boy/Girl Scout
Before you embark on your first backpacking adventure, whether it’s a camping trip or a budget travel somewhere, preparation is always the key to an awesome adventure! Choose hiking destinations which are appropriate for beginners and in cities, list all the places you’re planning to visit and map out the routes in advance.
#5 Eat to Fuel Your Body
I can’t stress this enough but you’re going to need a lot of stamina in backpacking. Because you need to be always on-the-go, ensuring you’re properly nourished is very important to avoid fatigue. You can also carry light snacks and a reusable water bottle in your backpack.
#6 Don’t Be Afraid to Try Something New!
Be one of the locals! Eat where they eat and drink where they drink. If you have to try fried cockroach lollipop in the middle of the street, then don’t be a scared cat and just do it! Backpacking is not for the faint of hearts in the first place.
#7 Be Initiative and Resourceful
Sometimes, you won’t have easy access to things that you need. Our ancestors survived during the Stone Age era by utilizing the things around them. When you’re backpacking on a mountain, make use of indigenous materials. I was backpacking on a certain island for weeks and we had to make hats out of the coconut husks, leaves, and spathe!
#8 Download the Offline Google Map Application
Download the Offline Google Map so it’ll be easier for you to navigate around the location. There are some things which are out of your control and getting lost is something inevitably frustrating. First of all, don’t strangle the first local you see because they can’t speak English and give you proper directions. But instead, smile and take a deep breath. Don’t stop asking until you’re satisfied with the answer.
#9 Guard Your Valuables with All Your Life
I’ve heard so many bloodcurdling stories about foreign tourists losing everything they have when backpacking to another country. YOU should be responsible for your valuables in the first place. Pickpockets are ubiquitous anywhere in the world; the best way to deal with them is to treat your belongings as if they’re your vital organs!
#10 A Camera is Memory’s Best Friend
The best thing you’ll get out of your entire backpacking adventure is the memories you’re going home with. I’ve always believed that the best memories are etched in your mind and heart and not in picture frames and Facebook albums. But, think of your camera as your brain’s external drive. Capture every beautiful and priceless moment. So when you’re back in your office chair working on that overdue project, you can take out your camera and relive the wonderful experience!