So you want to travel the world? Interested in independent budget travel aka backpacking? Don’t know where to start planning your first backpacking trip? Don’t worry; I’m here to help you!
1. Create a budget plan
How much money have you saved for your trip? Do you want to travel the world for a month, six months, a year? Define your budget before you leave and stick to it. If you don’t have a lot of money, travel to cheap destinations like Eastern Europe, South East Asia or India where it’s possible to get by on as little as $15. Places like Western Europe, Australia, and the USA, however, are much more expensive so prepare to spend $30-50 per day in these places.
2. Pick your destination(s)
If you don’t have a lot of money to spend, I recommend you to choose cheap destinations as I mentioned above. It’s your choice – do you want to travel in Europe for two weeks or in South East Asia for a month?
South East Asia, Europe, Australia and New Zealand are nice and easy destinations for first-time backpackers. You will meet so many fellow backpackers in these places, so I also recommend these places for solo travelers.
3. Buy a backpack
Don’t buy a backpack online. Go to an outdoor store, ask a salesperson for advice and try on some of the bags. Backpacks are expensive, but if you buy a good one, it should last for many years. I bought my backpack almost eight years ago, and it’s still in a very good condition. In addition to your backpack, you will also want a small day bag.
Things to look for in a backpack:
Don’t get a big backpack – there is no need to buy a bag that is more than 60 liters. I can fit my whole life in a 45-55 liter backpack, and that also includes my camping gear (tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, pillow).
My backpack has zippers, so it opens all the way. Personally, I think there is nothing more annoying than trying to get your stuff out of a top loader backpack so look for a bag with zippered opening.
4. What to pack
I will write a separate post about this topic and tell you what’s in my backpack. After years of experience, trial and error, I now have an almost perfect packing list. However, I will just tell you now that you need less stuff than you think. The general rule is this: lay out all of your things you want to pack and then take away half of it.
5. Other things you need to take care of
Get a good travel insurance. Don’t skip it!
Vaccinations. Consult your doctor and ask what vaccinations are necessary for your destination. If you are traveling to areas where malaria is common, you may also need anti-malaria pills.
Apply for visas and also find out if you need a ticket out of the destination country. I’ve made this mistake too many times because I only travel with one-way tickets. Then I’ve been told that I can’t board the plane unless I have a ticket out of the destination country. After that, I’ve been running around the airport looking for wifi and booked the cheapest flight available out of the destination country. Do your research before you go!
6. Buy your flights
Use flight comparison websites like Momondo, Kayak, and Skyscanner. The earlier you buy, the cheaper you’ll fly. I have to admit; I never do that. I usually buy my ticket only days before departure. You can also check out Secret Flying where you can find airline mistake fares and get ridiculously cheap flights.
7. Don’t plan too much
You don’t need to book anything ahead or make travel plans. Just get on a plane and start your adventure! If you plan too much you could just restrict yourself because I tell you that you will meet a lot of people, your travel plans will change, and you will end up in places you never imagined. And that’s the beauty of backpacking – you just go with the flow, and you never know what the day will bring.
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