The essence of backpacking

Booking a plane ticket, getting on the plane with nothing more than a backpack and your passport, it is the ideal way to discover an unknown destination. Backpacking has been a popular way of traveling among young people for years and nowadays low budget travel is also gaining popularity among the less young generation. The feeling of freedom of heading out into the wide world with a backpack cannot be described in words. Many backpack alone as a form of self-fulfillment, others choose to travel with a good friend and some with their partner.

Where to

In theory you can go backpacking anywhere, but of course some countries are more popular than others. The most popular places to go backpacking are Southeast Asia and Latin America because you can travel here on a limited budget and there are many facilities for the backpacker. Everyone has heard of someone who has traveled around India, Thailand, Bali or Vietnam. Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina also remain popular destinations. But also in Africa, countries such as South Africa, Uganda, Kenya and Morocco offer many opportunities for the adventurous traveler. Closer to home, there are many beautiful places to discover in our own Europe. If you want to go to the other side of the world, you should definitely go to Australia and New Zealand.

Preparation

Good preparation is important for every trip, before you leave it is best to check which documents you need for the country of destination. You must apply for a passport in your place of residence. Also check whether you need vaccinations and make sure you have sufficient supplies if you take medication. Finding out which places you definitely don’t want to miss and which ones you would rather ignore is also a good idea. But don’t stick too hard to your plan, part of the adventure is following your feelings. Talk to people who have already been to your destination and check internet forums for lots of tips from other travelers. In most cases, exchanging money is not necessary and you can withdraw money in the local currency with any credit card at the airport. But if you go to a less touristy country, it is better to exchange some money. If possible, ask for small denomination notes as the taxi driver who takes you to your first hotel may not have change.

The equipment

Every backpacker needs a good and sturdy backpack, so go to a specialized store for advice. Take plenty of time to try on the backpack and adjust it to your body. You will be walking around with this backpack for many hours, so it is very important that it is comfortable to wear. A backpack that is large enough to hold the essentials, yet not too big and bulky, is what you are looking for. A 50 to 60 liter is ideal. Sturdy and waterproof walking shoes are also vital. Take into account the climate at your destination and the type of walks you want to do. Do you need light shoes for short walks that you can also wear in the city or do you want sturdy boots for that multi-day trek in the mountains? Whatever you choose, don’t forget an extra pair of good, breathable socks.
When backpacking, it is important to keep the weight as low as possible and limit yourself to the essentials. Your backpack will be your life for a while, make sure it doesn’t become a burden. Remember that in popular destinations just about everything is for sale for a low price, so you really don’t need to take much with you. You can easily give away clothes and buy new ones if you go to a destination with a different climate. You can usually also have clothes washed and dried. Many places to stay have books you can read and personal hygiene products are available everywhere.

Reasons to backpack

Many young people step out into the world for a while before settling down with a job, house and children. This way they can see part of the world on a small budget. Others take a few months or years away to get to know themselves better, away from the daily doom and gloom, discover new cultures and open their minds. There are different ways to get to know the local culture, way of life and traditions. Some choose to volunteer or stay in people’s homes while traveling. Good websites are www.helpx.net, www.workaway.info, www.wwoof.net and www.couchsurfing.com.

A bad day

Although this way of traveling can be very educational and broadening, there can also be less pleasant moments. You may get tired of always looking for the cheapest place to sleep and counting every cent. Even if you are careful about what you eat, you can always get sick and diarrhea or nausea are common problems while backpacking. In those moments you will wish you were in your own comfortable bed, and not in a cot in a cheap hostel or worse, the night bus from one place to another. Even if you are not ill, homesickness can sometimes arise at an unexpected time.
Even if you have been robbed, missed the bus, train or flight, lost your way or just had to say goodbye to new friends, you can sometimes end up in a slump. You just have to get through such moments, sleep, read a good book, listen to your favorite music or make new friends. Because in the end it will all work out, you will have had an unforgettable experience that will stay with you forever. And it is not forbidden to treat yourself every now and then with a tasty meal, a nice hotel room or that irresistible souvenir.

read more

  • Backpacking in Southeast Asia
  • Backpacking: what to take with you and what not
  • A journey through Thailand
  • A journey through Malaysia

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