How to backpack like a pro

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Are you looking for something different and exciting to do on your next vacation?  Something that will allow you to know different places and people?  Do you want to save money while traveling?  Go backpacking!  Yes, backpacking.  It’s one of the greatest and more adventurous ways to know the world. But don’t go packing your bag just yet.  Here are some tips to ensure you backpack like the best of them.

  1.    Do some research

Are you planning on leaving for a month or a couple of weeks?  Do you want to visit more than one country?  Whatever your destination or destinations are you’ve got to do some investigating before you buy your plane ticket.  While backpacking is essentially about being flexible, knowing some things about the places you plan on staying at is crucial.

Some of the things you should do some reading up on are:

  •         Any vaccinations you might need and how much time before the trip you must get them.
  •         Average weather for the time you plan on going.  This will help you with your packing.
  •         Security and safety recommendations.
  •         Public transport system information.
  1.    Don’t pack too much

It’s called backpacking for a reason.  You should only pack what can fit in your backpack and what can hang on it without causing any serious strain on your body.  Most major cities have places where you can wash your clothes.  If they don’t, go for some detergent and start scrubbing over a sink.  Hang your clothes to dry on a window in your room and you’re all set.  Basically, you could do with about three of each garment.  This doesn’t include underwear and socks, though.  Pack more than three tighty whities.

  1.    Stay at a hostel

Obvious? I know.  Everyone knows that staying at a hostel is the most affordable way to backpack besides camping.  But this tip isn’t about the money you’ll save by lodging at a hostel. These places offer you the chance at getting to know people from all over the world.  Experienced backpackers can give you some much needed tips on where to go next or what to skip. By getting to know people at a hostel and finding out about their own culture, you’ll get some great ideas for possible destinations for your next backpacking journey.

  1.    Do some walking and get on buses, trains, and buses.

Make sure to pack at least one pair of shoes that are built for walking.  A huge part of backpacking is walking for hours to take in as much detail about a place as possible.  If you get tired of footing it or if the place you are interested in checking out is far away then use public transportation.  Most major cities have bike routes that will let you do some much needed exercise and see the sites in a whole new way.  Taking a train or a bus is one of the most enriching experiences you can have.  It puts you smack in the middle of local life.  And not to mention that it’s way cheaper than taking a taxi or a bus tour.

Image courtesy of Bruce Aldridge at Flickr.com

Image courtesy of Bruce Aldridge at Flickr.com

  1.    Eat like a local

Food doesn’t come cheap to tourists. Unfortunately, it’s a common worldwide practice to charge visitors more than the locals.  Head on to a grocery store and stock up on some supplies.  Get some healthy snacks like granola or energy bars, things that you don’t need to put in the fridge.  Be on the look-out for places where you see a lot of common Joes. The locals usually like to eat at affordable places and they know where the best bang for your culinary buck can be found, so don’t be afraid to ask.

  1.    When in Rome, do as the Romans do

This old adage is also one of the most rewarding when you go backpacking.  Find out what the locals love doing and get on board.  Go see the national sport live.  Eat the national dishes.  Drink local booze. Go dancing.  Be part of the tribe.  Broaden your world culture knowledge by actually living it.  You’ll gain plenty of stories to tell back home and make some friendships along the way.

  1.    Point and click

Do not forget to bring your camera. You will sorely regret it if you do.  Additionally, get a memory card that will allow you to store all those amazing pictures you dream of taking.  One more thing.  Don’t just focus on the mountains and the trees.  Photograph details of the cities and towns you visit.  Capture local businesses and the people.  When you get back home you’ll have some visual aids to help you recount your travel.

Open up your mind to new experiences.  Get your backpack ready.  Charge your camera.  Book a hostel.  Finally, don’t be a tourist, be one of the locals.  Backpacking is an unforgettable experience.  It’s not a small world after all.  Go get your passport stamped and have the adventure of a lifetime.

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