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Backpackers Guide to the Galaxy

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Considering going backpacking? We've put together some top tips for your adventure...

Ever felt like exploring the big wide world with just the bag on your back? Here’s a few top tips we’ve pulled together to help you take your first few steps. Before we get started though, remember to get yourself and whoever you’re travelling with covered with our travel insurance. You can even get 15% off when you buy online.

Where should I go backpacking?

Is it too cliché for us to tell you the world’s your oyster? Probably, but it’s true. Below are a few popular (and not so popular – but still amazing) places you might want to consider, but the best thing about backpacking is, if you have the urge to visit anywhere, there’s almost nothing stopping you other than your budget. You might be travelling with someone, but if you’re travelling alone, check out our top tips about how to make the most out of your solo adventure.

 

  1. South East Asia

    The M25 of backpacking, but for good reasons. Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos; countries with incredible heritage and culture combined with dramatic scenery and cheap expenditure, you can’t really go wrong.

     

  2. South America

    Another really popular route including Brazil, Bolivia and Chile. The physical geography of these countries are unmatched, from the salt flats and Machu Picchu, to the Amazon rainforest as well as iconic, bustling cities.

     

  3. India

    One of the cheapest countries to travel in the world. The food puts the edible in ‘incredible’ and will most likely come with a kick, but the people are even warmer. Just be prepared to discover you won’t find any English ‘Indian’ dishes in India like a korma or tikka masala! Find out more about backpacking in India here.

     

  4. Australia and New Zealand

    Fancy going to the other side of the world? This one’s realistically for those with slightly higher budgets. Having said this, once you have your flights out there, you can book yourself into a farm to go WWOOFing where you can work for your accommodation and maybe also get paid.

     

  5. Peaks of the Balkans Trail
    A bit more rogue and off the beaten track… which is what backpacking is surely all about, right? Maybe this one is for those of you with a bit more travelling experience. Once a no-go zone, this 120-mile route takes you through Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro. It’s deep-rooted with culture and you’d be one of the first to really discover all it has to offer.

What should I pack for my adventure?

Now this of course depends completely on where you’re going and what time of the year. Here’s a suggested checklist you might find quite useful… but obviously, if you’re going to somewhere cold, pack more of the thick layers. Similarly, if you’re going somewhere hotter, pack more sun cream etc! Either way, don’t pack more than you can carry, and as a general rule, if you won’t use it more than once a week, don’t pack it.

Backpacking checklist

If you’re going camping also…

Most importantly, good hiking shoes/boots

Quality sleeping bag

Second most important, a good bag!

Good quality tent

Sleeping bag liner (whether you’re camping or not, they’re great for hostels!)

Camping mattress (inflatable ideally)

Travel towel (don’t dampen your trip with a bad one)

Camping torch (get at least one)

Power adapter and/or power bank

 

Bum bag for your valuables (top tip, it might get wet so think waterproof)

Possible other

Pants and socks (x4/5)

Camera and charger

T-shirts; aim for cotton and dark colours – it covers up stains better! (x3/4)

Laptop and charger

Travel trousers – preferably not jeans; they’re heavy and absorb water (x2)

Emergency cash of local currency

Fleece – they’re so versatile for wherever you travel

Deck of cards/compact games

Sunglasses – make sure they’re polarised if you’re around snow

Book/Kindle

Flip flops/sandals – comfy footwear for the evenings is a must

Sun cream (and after-sun possibly)

Sunhat – whatever your style, you don’t want to burn or get sun/heat-stroke

Travel snacks

Phone charger

Travel cushion/pillow

 

You’re likely going to be staying in hostels, but if you have a larger budget, find out where some of the world’s most unique hotels are and try and stay there if you can!

Top tips for travelling

  1. Pack light, but make sure you have enough space left for a couple of home comforts. You can see, for example, we’ve included travel cushions in the list above. These can be a huge game changer if you’re away for a long time.
  2. Always keep your valuables on you – including your phone, emergency cash and your passport. A great way to ensure you’re keeping your belongings safe is by buying a bum bag and take it with you everywhere – even to the shower if you’re staying in a hostel.
  3. Pack toilet paper with you everywhere you go. Mother Nature has a funny way of calling when you’re least prepared. Many public toilets might’ve run out of toilet paper (if there was any there to begin with). It’s also a great resource outside the bathroom – you might want to clean or dry things off, use it to light a fire or just blowing your nose.
  4. Don’t over plan. Sure, have things in mind you want to do and places you want to stay, but don’t let those detailed plans ruin your chances of enjoying something. The whole point of backpacking is to experience the world; now is your ultimate chance in life to embrace whatever crazy curve balls life throws your way, so just enjoy it and be flexible. Having said this, just keep in mind that there are scams out there, so maybe give our article a read about how to avoid those tourist scams.
  5. And last (but by no means least!), make sure you have travel insurance you can rely on. Nobody wants anything to go wrong on your trip, but accidents are called accidents because nobody expects them. You wouldn’t go for a hike in Wales without remembering to bring a raincoat… it’s always worth being prepared, even if you don’t use it! Read our article to find out what travel insurance covers, in case you’re unsure.


So there’s our list of tips and tricks to help you get the most from your backpacking, no matter where in the world you go. Remember you can get 15% off when you buy travel insurance online with us.

Even if you do like getting Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain, it’s always best to be prepared on your Escape.

 

If you’re faced with travel delays or cancellations on your adventure, you might want to read our article now about what to do.

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