Backpacking originated as a last resort for those looking to travel on a budget. While it has remained a financially smart option, it has since blown up to be one of the trendiest forms of travel. Without a hotel or luggage to chain you down, you are free to explore the locality as you please and settle wherever you want.
Still, such liberty carries with it its own challenges. Here are some ways that you can prepare for a safe and fulfilling backpacking trip.
Since you will be carrying your entire ‘suitcase’ on your back, it is best to pack light. It may be tempting to pack 10 sets of clothes for every occasion, but you can just as easily get by with a few sets of basic t-shirts and jeans. Try to prioritise reusability and versatility over fashion sense. Do remember that there is nothing wrong with having a half-filled bag. Focus on packing the necessities, and your back will thank you later.
A good rule of thumb is to place the things you access least often at the bottom of the bag, and place those you frequently use at the top. If you are going hiking, you would want to place the heaviest things at the bottom instead, so that you can keep your balance. But in most situations, it is up to personal preference.
In any case, things in a backpack tend to get jumbled around while you walk. Even if you organised your stuff perfectly at the start of the day, all it takes is one rummage through for everything to fall out of order. As such, you will want to place your small, miscellaneous items in containers or Ziploc bags. It is far better to be searching for a decently sized container than a minuscule torchlight, for instance.
Do your research
A good backpacker needs to understand and prepare for the locality they are visiting. Things like the cultural practices, weather, and currency conversion rate would be good to know before heading over. Information related to safety is just as important. Some useful facts to search up on include dangerous areas to avoid, whether the tap water is drinkable, and medical evacuation options.
Pack plastic bags
The most versatile tool in a backpacker’s arsenal is the humble plastic bag. Light and compact, they can be used to conveniently compartmentalise your stuff. Like the Ziploc bags, they can be used to package your small items, so they do not get lost in your backpack. And since you will be reusing your clothes and towels, you will want some plastic bags to keep the dirty and wet ones away from the clean ones.
Download Google Maps
While research will help you understand the general layout of the locality, actually walking the winding paths may be a different story. As such, Google Maps is necessary for anyone looking to explore a city. Once you have touched down, one of the first things you should do is to open up Google Maps. The map of the local area will be downloaded on your phone, so you will be able to navigate the streets even if you lose your internet connection.
Pick up the language
If you are visiting an area with a first language you cannot speak, you may want to brush up on some common phrases before you head there. Simple vocabulary like asking for directions or help can probably get you through most of the trip. But if you want to have a truly immersive experience, you may want to learn at least the basics of the language. Talking to the locals not only gives you insights into the culture but could also let you in on the best places to visit in the area.
With all the freedom that it affords, backpacking lets you cater the travel experience to your own desires. Your trip will no doubt be an exciting and fulfilling experience, as long as you make the appropriate preparations beforehand. To further secure your safety, you can make contingency plans in the case of a medical emergency. Air ambulance services are an important consideration, as they can get you home in such a situation. Here at EMA Global, our medical escorts are on-hand to provide air ambulance evacuation to medical facilities and destinations on short notice.