For those of you who love exploring new places, you might not be aware that it does take a bit of research and organisation to ensure you are safe while on your travels. Use our top tips to make sure you have a stress free experience of a life-time...
1. Research Your Trip
This may sound like the most logical thing to say but you really have to make sure that you take costings and logistics into account and read up on places you plan on visiting so as to not waste time, money and be safe. Also make sure you get the appropriate shots prior to going to certain countries.
2. Pack Properly
Head to your local outdoors shop during your planning process. This will give you an idea of the type of gear (clothing and footwear) you need to pack straight from the mouth of an expert. Find the best solar charger for your devices so you never have to scour somewhere for a power point and so you have battery while commuting. Bring Dr. Bronner Magic Soap - this cleans everything - your body, helps when shaving, cleans clothes etc. Bring a basic first aid kit - you won't always be in the facinity of a doctor or a hospital. Bring a penknife - this will be a lifesaver. Pack a torch. Bring a water bottle and keep it filled at all times. Make sure you have snacks handy also. Finally, leave valuables at home.
Check out REI.com for the most comprehensive check-list for backpackers.
3. Tell People Your Plan
Safety first. Inform your close family and friends of your plan and itinerary especially when it changes. This is just in case (touch wood) anything happens to you.
4. Do Pre-Book Your Transport
This is for a few reasons - it'll make sure you don't go off the beaten track too much and keep momentum going. It will also save you lots of money in the long run - cheaper trains, flights and buses... And in some cases a better level of customer care if you lose tickets or miss trains etc.
5. Make Sure You Have A Bed
It might be wise to pre-book accommodation in certain places. Europe for example is super-busy during the summer months. You don't want to arrive somewhere and realise the hostels and hotels are all booked up and be left in a shitty place, wasting hours walking around looking for somewhere or even worse left without a bed to sleep in.
6. Be Openminded
You're away to discover, meet new people, create life-long memories, grow... Be openminded and thrust yourself into each place. Talk to the locals and respect traditions. If you can't understand someone - it's your fault, not theirs. Brush up on basics and carry a dictionary.
7. Be Diligent
We're not saying don't have fun but always have an air of caution. Backpackers stick out like sore thumbs in cities and some people make a living off being scam artists and pick pockets. You're a walking target for these professionals. Keep your valuables and money in a safe place.
8. Double Check Your Travel Documents
Make sure your passport is in date and it has enough pages right up to the time you decide you'll be coming home. Make sure your bank cards are in date. Make sure you know you can gain access to certain countries with your passport and please, please make sure you've travel insurance. Keep next of kin information on your person at all times.
And finally, make sure you have a copy of all the above saved in your email or cloud... just in case.
9. These Items Will Be Your Best Friend
Have a stockpile and keep it topped up at all times of the following:
- Chlorine tablets (to purify water)
- Hand sanitiser
10. Be The Ultimate Explorer
Bring books, increase your knowledge on the history of places you've visited or plan to visit. And bring extra memory for your camera - you'll need it.
11. Have Emergency Funds
You might want to indulge in extra activities you hadn't planned for and it's always good to be safe. Stash them somewhere safe or keep them somewhere (only) you have easy access to.
12. Eat Local, Drink Local
Get stuck into the local atmosphere and food scene. You're away to discover new smells, tastes and people after all. We've a comprehensive list of places to eat, drink and get Wi-Fi for 28 cities across the globe. Check them out.
13. Save Money On Attractions
Back to point number 1 - do your research prior to visiting somewhere. There are loads of attractions that have free hours on particular days and most student or travel cards will grant you free or discounted access.
14. Take A Walk
Don't be tempted to get cabs everywhere. Walk. You'll discover way more on foot - winding alleys, street art, cool cafes and plenty of amazing photo opportunities.
15. Try Stick To Your Plan
It's cool to get lost in the wanderlust of somewhere and be all crazy and spontaneous but if you make an effort to stick to your plan, memories won't be so stale and you'll be a lot safer.
16. Don't Be "One Of Them"
Don't update your status on Facebook and upload a billion photos on Instagram every hour. No one at home cares as much about your trip as you do.
17. Do Document Your Memories
Carry a journal or a diary and pen your experiences so you can look back on it and tell tales upon your return. When you get home make photo albums with all the amazing photos so you have them for years to come.