Just because you’re going backpacking doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to be lost in the jungles of Vietnam sans passport, money, and dignity. A worry-free trip doesn’t mean that your experience is any less powerful. Rather, with proper preparation, backpacking is not only safe, but also a fantastic way to discover the world (and yourself!). Here are five tips to making sure that you have a safe and fun experience.
1. BEFORE YOU GO…
Get your important documents scanned and sent to your e-mail. This means, passport, license, travel insurance, credit cards are all sent to the cloud so in the event you do lose your passport or your money, you have a copy of it. Get the number of your local embassy in each of your destinations. Let your family and friends know a basic itinerary of where you will be and when to expect to hear from you (and when they should start to worry).
2. DO YOUR DUE DILIGENCE
Have you chosen your destination? Are you off to explore Bangkok’s Wat Arun by day and Soi Cowboy by night? Or maybe you’re off to watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat in Cambodia? No matter the place, it is imperative that you get at least the basic lay of the land. A quick Google search should let you know if there are strikes, protests, or political disasters happening in the area before you go. Look up local scams and any places you might want to avoid beforehand. Visit forums and talk to your friends for tips to make the best of your destination.
3. YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE ALONE (ALL THE TIME)
Traveling alone has incredible benefits. You get to see and do things that you want to do on your own time. You don’t have to worry about making sure that your trip itinerary includes all that shopping Stacy wants when you’re just not interested. Traveling alone means complete freedom, but this doesn’t meant hat it has to be lonely. You can make friends everywhere – hostels, cafes, tourist attractions – just say hi! It’s always more fun to have someone to share the experience with, plus, you’ll have someone to watch your back. Now with the advent of technology, you don’t even have to wait until you’re physically at the hostel to make new friends. Penroads is a cool new website designed to help travelers all over the world connect and make new friends on their journey.
4. HOSTELS: A BACKPACKER’S BEST FRIEND
Oh hostels, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Hostels are super cheap and often your best option for affordable lodging, but aside from that, they are a great resource! Hostels have local staff that can give you local curated advice and sometimes hold traveler events. Hostels are also often closer to the downtown area of a city and are great places to meet people. However not all hostels are made equal and you should be sure to checkout reviews beforehand. Try shooting for a hostel that has common spaces or larger dormitories so that you have ample opportunity to meet your new travel friends!
5. USE COMMON SENSE
Don’t walk around alone at night in sketchy areas. Dress in a respectful way towards local culture. Don’t get drunk in bad company. Don’t show off your Rolex or designer handbag. Act confident. Feel prepared to dive into new experiences, but always exercise a healthy amount of caution.
NOW GO FORTH ON THE OPEN ROAD (AND BE SAFE), FELLOW TRAVELERS!