The best advice for beginner backpackers

Tourism is one of the world’s biggest industries now that the world has become accessible to so many travelers. However some of us hesitate in taking the plunge and stepping outside of our comfort zone. Here are some tips that will prepare you for entering the big, bad world, Bonnie Deider writes. The best advice for beginner backpackers is below.

1) Plan for your travels

First and foremost, make a travel plan but don’t necessarily stick to it. A Lonely Planet guide is helpful but be willing to sacrifice parts of your journey as you can’t see everything and it’s best not to rush things. Guides can also be outdated within a year of publication. Websites like Trip Advisor may be more useful than print as they are always being updated and contributed to. So make sure you research and plan your trip thoroughly

2) Limit the number of people you travel with

Be reassured that the person/s you are planning to travel with will be fun and easygoing. Don’t travel with too many people as they may change your course of action. Don’t travel with too many people, a small intimate group is able to change course easily.

3) Purchase travel supplies carefully

Don’t just purchase the most attractive bag on sale at Kathmandu. Know what you’re in for and pack accordingly. If you’re flashpacking  (?)instead of backpacking leave space so you can buy things when you get to your destination. If you’re roughing it out, stick to a bag suited to your body size. Nothing is more uncomfortable than carrying a backpack the length of your body, with the top of the backpack peeking over the top of their head.

4) Pack lightly

You will hear it from your family, you will hear it from friends, you will hear it from your travel agent and you will hear it from the quiet voice in your head called ‘Common Sense’, but it won’t be repeated enough. Hardly any of us listen and that’s okay, it is normal for first-time backpackers to over-pack. However you will save yourself from wasted energy whilst gaining plenty of traveller cred if you stick to, say, a backpack weight of 10kg or less. The best method to achieve this is to stack a pile of clothes on your bed, then cut it in half and then half again, and then pack it into your bag. This method is also useful when bargaining!

5) Organise your finances and assets

Work out how to access your finances before you go overseas. Double check your fees, pin and tell your bank your plans to prevent cards being blocked. You’ve probably sold your car at this point, but if you haven’t, who is going to look after it and will it be safe while you’re travelling? Who is looking after your apartment? Are your belongings in a reliable storage facility?

6) Make sure your Phone plan is sorted out

Go into your mobile phone provider’s store and turn off that pesky global roaming. Leave it off for the entire time you are overseas. Besides getting a nice break from the cyber world, you will also save yourself a burning $1000 bill. To save battery leave your phone on airplane mode and connect to Wi-Fi. It’s everywhere and most of the time, beautifully free. Download Viber, Skype, and Whatsapp and relish in the fast Internet speeds that most of the world enjoys on a daily basis.

7) Become a journalist

Memory is a killer so attempt to keep a journal. Photos are great to look back on but there’s nothing like rereading your written thoughts when you are back at home and suffering from post-holiday depression.

8) Be open-minded

Keep within yours and the local country’s values and ethics and be respectful to locals. This is incredibly important for Westerners travelling to under-developed or developing nations.

9) Buy travel insurance

So many times we hear of travelers stiffed with expensive hospital bills or worse… Family members with expensive funeral arrangements. It will make your family and friends happy if you invest a few hundred bucks in some protection. You might be a careful traveller, but you never know when things can go wrong.

10) Try not to sweat the small things

How often in your life are you going to have the chance, time or money to do this? Often the best experiences are unexpected and randomly stumbled upon so be adventurous and embrace it!