Backpacking – pro tips

Contrary to the popular misconception that backpacking is a youthful pursuit, undertaken by spritely school leavers looking for a bit of fast fun before the cogs and machinery of real life begin to turn, it’s actually rather an all ages pursuit. 

Granted, as we get a little older and a little wiser, we begin to see the benefits of not sharing a dorm room with 20 or so other travellers (catching 40 winks in a room where slamming doors and ambient conversation offer round the clock noise is not something many people past the age of their mid-20s will be willing to even attempt), but when we factor in that many hostels offer single rooms and we consider that budget hotels can step up to offer a relatively cheap room at the inn if required, there’s really no stopping any of us.

Why backpack at all, you might ask? It comes down to one word. Freedom. Freedom to roam in Rome on a Monday, catch a train to Spain on a Tuesday, and watch the sun go down in London by no later than Thursday if you make all your connections on time. You can’t say that about your standard sun, sea, and sand vacation. 

Travelling the self-sufficient road means you need to pack well – you’re going to be carrying your stuff, after all, so perhaps it’s best to consider our options…

A good camera

Travellers should only take with them the things that they don’t mind losing. This means you’ll need a cheap watch, cheap clothes, a cheap water bottle, and as little money as you need each day. However, a good camera is perhaps the one exception (and you can always turn your greatest photos into canvas prints). 

A great philosopher once said that we are overwhelmed by our lives as we live them, and we understand and process things only in hindsight. A good camera is your window to your memories and to developing your appreciation of all your saw and did. 

Bags inside bags

Backpacking is more rushed than you might think. You’ve never been to these places before. You don’t know the roads. Getting back to your hostel on time to pack for the train station (and finding the station) takes time. Packing is going to have to be fast. You need removable zip up storage bags inside your backpack to help everything to fit. 

Make your life easier in the hostel and on the road

Certain things will make your life easier when backpacking. Make sure you consider all of the following:

  • Portable charger
  • Ear plugs
  • Eye mask
  • Padlock
  • Sunglasses
  • A spare credit/debit card not in your wallet/purse
  • Mosquito repellent 
  • Hand sanitizer 

Got it? Good. Now go get ’um. 

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