Beginner Backpacking Trips
You are no doubt getting excited about your first backpacking trip, or you are at the very least daydreaming about taking a backpacking trip. Either way, it is important to know about the do’s and don’ts of backpacking and how to get started planning that trip. When you begin planning a beginner backpacking trip or begin to consider taking a backpacking trip, you are undoubtedly going to be excited. However, it is important to remember that there are a lot of things to take into consideration and plenty of things you will need to think about. Planning a vacation of any sort takes time and effort, but planning a backpacking trip means thinking about minor details and really taking the effort to research your trip.
After your initial excitement wears off, you may end up overwhelmed and stressed with all of the planning for your backpacking trip, but it is important that you remember to breathe and take it one step at a time. Planning takes time, and while this planning may stress you out a bit, don’t let it get in the way of your initial enthusiasm. Planning can actually be enjoyable: you learn about different cities, cultures, languages, and countries. Remember, you are planning this trip, so you get to make it whatever you want!
Planning Your Trip
The first step in the planning process for your backpacking trip is deciding where you want to go. Because you are most likely going to travel and visit many places, the destination portion of the process is quite crucial. You have a world of places to choose from. However, you need to think about ease of travel, the level of your desire to visit certain cities, and the cost-effectiveness of your trip. To help you start thinking about your destinations, here are some questions to keep in mind.
• What part of the world would you like to travel to? Have you always dreamed of seeing the rustic villages of rural Europe? Maybe Bangkok, Thailand in Asia has always been a country you’ve dreamed of exploring. The truth about backpacking destinations is that you really can choose anywhere in the world. As long as you can carry your pack and find somewhere to sleep, you can backpack there.
• How many places do you want to see? Backpacking offers the opportunity to see a series of cities and towns. Many backpackers stay in hostels or couch-surf in order to stretch their budgets and travel more. As a beginning backpacker, you should plan to travel to only as many locations as you feel you can reasonably visit. Not sure? This list of top backpacking locations around the world, will help you get started with your itinerary.
• How long do you want to be gone? Something very important to consider when making your plans is how long you actually want to be gone from your home country. The length of your trip will directly influence how many places you see and what types of things you actually do. If you plan to be gone for as long as 90 days or more, you will need to verify if you need a visa in your destination country.
• What types of activities do you want to do during your backpacking trip? Your trip will also be heavily influenced when you factor in the types of activities you want to participate in. Are you looking for a more rural experience with hiking in the woods and other outdoor places? Or do you want to visit cities where culture, art, and people are easily accessible? If you want a little of both, backpacking is the perfect kind of trip to combine these interests.
• How big or small is your budget? One of the biggest things you need to keep in mind not only while planning but while you are actually backpacking is your budget. Your budget is going to limit where you go and what you do, but keep in mind that there are ways to save money and really make the most of your experience. Read our tips on traveling to Europe on a budget.
Selecting Your Gear
Since you are going to be carrying pretty much all of your belongings on your back and relying on very little else, it is extremely important for you to have the best gear for the job. Not every backpack is going to do the trick and depending on the type of backpacking you are planning on doing, you may need certain things. Because every trip is unique and different, coming up with the all-important gear list is nearly impossible. However, here are some general things you will want to make sure you have in order to make any type of backpacking trip successful.
• Comfortable Shoes : No matter what type of backpacking you are going to be doing, you most likely will be on your feet quite a bit. In order to stay comfortable and keep your feet free of blisters and soreness, you are going to want comfortable shoes that provide you with the right amount of support. Look for shoes with arch support and plenty of cushioning. Your knees will thank you.
• Backpack : The most obvious piece of gear you are going to need in order to backpack is a backpack. However, there are backpacks designed for all sorts of situations, which means before you just grab the first one you see, you need to make sure that is the best one for the job. You may be tempted to buy the largest backpack you find, but you do not want an overfull backpack weighing you down.
• Insurance : Although it’s not tangible gear, as a first time backpacker, you should be prepared for any medical emergency. Find a backpacker travel insurance plan which covers you outside your home country and provides emergency benefits like political evacuation and emergency medical evacuation.
• Raingear : Because you never know what type of situations you may find yourself in while backpacking, you need to be as prepared as possible, which means purchasing protective gear like a raincoat.
• Water Bottle : You never really know where you are going to be when you take a backpacking trip, which is part of the thrill and fun of it. However, that can mean you are not always very close to water or a source of fluid, which can cause you to become dehydrated. The best way to fight dehydration is to make sure you have a full water bottle with you at all times.
• Maps : In today’s technology-filled world, you may want to rely on a GPS. However, you never really know when technology is going to fail. To keep as a back-up or to use whenever, you should think about carrying a map with you at all times. It may not seem like a very sophisticated piece of gear, but a map is your best bet and is always reliable.
Packing for Your First Backpacking Trip
No matter how many times you have packed a suitcase and no matter what your reasons were for packing that suitcase, packing for a backpacking adventure is completely different. Instead of packing a couple of bags that you can pull through subway stations, airports, and up to hotel lobby desks, you are going to have to put everything you need in one bag that you carry on your back. To help you with the difficulties of packing everything you will need into one bag, here are some helpful tips.
• Clothes : As you start packing for your trip, you should check the weather periodically and see what the average temperatures are and if there is a chance of rain. Obviously, the weather can be unpredictable, so you should be prepared for all kinds of weather, but you want to make sure that you do not over pack.
• Sleeping Bag : Since you are going to be saving money and sleeping in places like hostels or maybe even a tent, it is a good idea to pack a lightweight sleeping bag that will not take up too much room in your pack.
• Toiletries : Most of the time, it does not make much sense to take toiletries on your trip with you, but since you are not sure where you are going to be staying, it is a great idea to take your toiletries with you.
• Extra Shoes : Backpacking means that you are going to be stuck outside sometimes when the weather is bad, and you will likely end up doing a lot of walking. You need to be prepared for every situation, so taking an extra pair of shoes is a good idea.
Preparing for your backpacking trip can be stressful, time consuming, and you may not even want to think about it. However, just because you are not planning your trip down to every minute or even booking hotels, there is still a lot you need to do in order to be ready for your trip. If you start thinking about it well in advance, you will avoid feeling rushed when it comes to packing and getting everything in order. You may not enjoy packing your bag or even making the final preparations, but taking care of these things ahead of time and knowing what to expect during your trip are things that will really make your entire trip go smoothly and be more enjoyable. Remember, beginner backpacking trips are going to be fun and probably life-changing in some way, which ultimately means that the time and effort you have to put into the preparation is all going to be worthwhile in the end.