A little beyond the busy trails and tourist destinations exists a rather immersive experience; something you can only experience once you ditch the clichéd travel agencies, car camping trips and day hikes. Yes, you got it right, backpacking is the real deal.
It doesn’t matter if you’re planning to enjoy the gap year after school or college or just enjoying your time out of work, keep in mind that backpacking involves a much stringent preparation than an everything-taken-care-of vacation. A smooth transition from regular holidays to backpacking requires you to pay attention to some specific details, and play it tough and smart.
When done right, backpacking trips can provide you with richer, rewarding experiences and who knows; you can even come back with a little money for your next backpacking trip.
Mentioned below are some backpacking tips for beginners which would help you get the most of your trip:
Before you leave
1. Thorough research: You have your passport and tickets and double-checked your flight time, that doesn’t mean everything’s sorted. Yes, backpacking, more or less, is about spontaneity but a bit of prior research can come in handy when you’re out there in the wild, in an unexplored destination in a country you know nothing about. Perhaps, a mere guidebook and hiking routes would suffice.
2. Pack light: On a long journey, even a straw weighs heavy – Spanish proverb – You’ll be bearing your load on your back for much longer than you are expecting. You’ll get lost, have muscle cramps, dehydrate, and each of such instances would ask you to throw away the prized possessions you’d be carrying o your back. No one ever went on a backpacking trip with 10 pairs of socks, 5 bottles of shampoo, and what not. I mean, someone must have, but only to regret it later. Except for 2 pairs of socks, you do not need a spare of anything else. Remember this rule on not duplicating, and you’ll be good.
3. Invest in a sturdy backpack: You aren’t just carrying stuff; your backpack holds everything that can bring you out of the wild, alive. The money you spend on an actual hiking backpack is well worth its cost and can make a lot of difference.
4. Complete care of your feet: Get the right fitting shoes and socks and you’ll not spend the trip with blisters. Invest in a hiking shoe, preferably waterproof, and you’ll thank me later.
While you’re out there
1. Camp out: If the destination for the day allows and you find a comfortable camp ground, please camp out. You’d save a lot of money camping which otherwise you’d have lost to expensive hotels.
2. Don’t bother on each and every attraction: Not everything that falls on your route deserves your time and money. Choose only the best and don’t fall for tourist traps.
3. When not camping, get a hostel with a kitchen: Hostels are super fun, not as much as your personal tent, but much, much better than hotels. Also, see to it that you get one with a kitchen. Buy local groceries, and cook for yourself. Eating out every day would only put a dent in your shoestring budget.
4. Dress neither to impress nor to express: Use clothes made of quick-drying fabrics. Clothing is a separate system altogether, and you have to take it accordingly. You can come across an extreme range of temperatures. For a regular hiking trip, you would need:
- Next-to-skin base layers
- Hiking layers
- Waterproof wear
- Sleeping clothes
5. Miscellaneous: Keep your ego in check and carry along a first aid kit, insect repellant, sun screen, UV protected sunglasses, hat, extra batteries, and lots of biodegradable wipes that would help you not just with hands.