Ever wonder what it takes to be a backpacker? Here’s 26 quick tips, A to Z, to get you started.
Always wear shower shoes
Keep those germs out of your bed.
Be respectful to the locals, to the different cultures, to your hostel staff and roomies. Being kind and accepting goes a long way.
Carry only what you need
Your back and feet will thank you immensely.
Dance the nights away
Have fun. Make memories. That’s what you’re there for anyway, right?
Easy on the food
It’s easy to drop half of your budget on food within the first few weeks . . . more like days . . . trust me. Food is awesome, but food is expensive.
Forget about that comfort zone
Do things that you wouldn’t do at home. Journey to the hostel bar by yourself and strike up a conversation. Sign up for karaoke or trivia night. Climb that monument with the best panoramic view of the city, even if the stairs are cramped and dark. Celebrate each little victory.
Go with the flow
You may make plans to visit a beautiful town outside the city, but the trains are on strike. Maybe the grad cathedral is closed for service. Perhaps you’re visiting Madrid during one of the worst thunderstorms they’ve had all season. Adaptability is one of the best qualities a backpacker can possess. Make sure to put that on your resume.
Handle tech with care
I always cringe when backpackers throw their stuff around. Pay attention to your surroundings. You don’t want to spend your limited time in a new city at the repair shop, or be left without one to repair at all.
Integrate yourself – be the ‘local’
You don’t necessarily have to know a local to act like one. A quick Google search will certainly give you hidden gems off the beaten path (i.e. Nunhead Cemetery, pictured below)
Jump into the unknown
Try to visit a city with absolutely no expectations. I can bet it will be one of the best trips you’ll ever have.
You know that saying about loving yourself before loving somebody else? The same applies to travel. The more comfortable you are being just you, the more fun you’ll have traveling.
Leave it all behind
Everything that was stressing you is probably on a whole other continent. Live in the moment. Stress out about that stuff later. It’ll still be there when you return.
Make time for yourself
It’s tempting to go hard in every city, but traveling is both mentally and physically exhausting. It’s okay to sleep in, watch a few movies on Netflix, or spend the afternoon reading on the grassy hill.
Sometimes you buy tickets for the wrong date. Sometimes you end up getting scammed or paying more than you should have. Sometimes your plans are ruined due to things beyond your control. Nobody’s perfect: not you, not them, not Hannah Montana, but certainly Beyonce.
Ogle and gape at the wondrous world around you
Spoiler alert *** it’s very pretty.
Pee for free
It only takes one chugged water bottle in the middle of Oxford Circus to realize that public restrooms are a luxury most countries don’t have. Don’t expect all American chains to also come with bathrooms. If you’re in a pickle, museums and large bookstores are a safe bet. Some malls and parks have restrooms, but for a fee. Toilet paper may or may not be included.
Quiet hours are there for a reason
Some travelers like to sleep. Some are jet lagged. Some have early flights in a few hours. Respect the quiet hours.
Research some, discover later
There’s only so much a website (or blog post) can tell you. They don’t know everything. I don’t know everything. Make it an adventure and find it out for yourself.
Solo is the way to go
Sleep in, wander, get lost, live in museums, eat late, read in a park, eat early, go dancing with some new friends, survive only off of cider and cheese – whatever, it’s up to you and only you.
Take care of your body
Bouncing off that cider and cheese diet – you can’t travel if you aren’t well, it’s as simple as that. If you do have to travel while ill, it will only make you worse.
Understand that it’s impossible to know everything
You’ll mess up, whether that’s financially, culturally, or just epically. Embrace it and do what you can to move on.
Everyone gets nervous. Visualize yourself walking those streets, exploring those cathedrals, speaking that langauge, eating new food. Already picturing yourself having a blast in a strange place will make the transition just a bit easier.
Walk, walk, and then walk some more
Find yourself spending too much on transportation? Start moving those feet. Plus, you don’t have to worry about working out when you’re walking up to six miles a day.
Xs & Os
If you’re backpacking, you’re probably staying in hostels. It’s hard not to get attached to people when you’re living in such close quarters. Relationships that usually take weeks form in a matter of hours. You may be just two strangers passing through. Everyone’s trying to live like there’s no tomorrow, but we’re all the victims of time.
Your life is yours to live
What I love most about traveling is that it is the definition of freedom. What is there that you can’t do, can’t see, can’t discover? There is so much out there, you just have to take the first few steps in order to find it.
Zebra crossings are sometimes harder than they appear
When you’re changing countries where they drive on opposite sides of the road, it’s always a good idea to just double check and look both ways. Sure, integrate yourself and ‘be that local,’ but don’t get hit while jaywalking, please.
Until next time,