If you’re looking for backpacking tips and tricks to save money, time, and have a shit ton of fun, then you’re going to love what I’m about to share with you.
Below are 72 amazing backpacking tips that will turn your trip from great to ridiculously awesome.
You’ll find everything from how to save money, find the best accommodations to meet other like minded travellers, and safety tips to avoid scammers and pickpocketers.
Money Saving Tips For Backpackers On a Budget
1. Travel in the off season or shoulder season
Traveling during the “off-season” typically means smaller crowds, smaller lines, and cheaper prices. It may be colder, rainier, or fewer attractions are open, but you can save incredible amounts of money (accommodations can be more than 1/2 off) during low season. Plus, you get to see and experience places during a different time of year. Some places are “happening” year round, like major European cities. Also, you can get typically get a more authentic backpacking experience during the off season, where locals don’t flee on vacation.
2. Many museums offer free entry on certain days in Europe
Research and planning is essential when you’re on a tight budget. Did you know many European museums offer free entry on certain days of the month? All you need to do is google something like “free entry museum Paris”. Saving the 10-15 euros is a few extra drinks to get the night going in the right direction.
3. Get a “no transaction fee” credit card / debit card to use abroad
You will whip out your credit card and swipe it more than you think. This can be costly because most credit cards charge an extra fee (usually a percentage of the total purchase) for using your credit card. You end up spending more than you think, and that credit card statement you receive back home is a big time downer. Forget that noise and look for a travel credit card that doesn’t charge you extra. For debit cards, pick a bank / debit card that will not charge you a transaction fee for taking money out of an ATM or when making purchases. It can save you $2.5 – $5 per transaction.
4. Try not to exchange money at airports or hotels
Simply put, hotels and airports eye gouge you. It’s the places where backpackers are most desperate for local currency, and they know that. These two places the the worst places to exchange money. The exchange rate they give you is down right criminal. If you MUST exchange some money, only exchange “just enough” to get your feet moving along. Find a local bank, ATM, or (sometimes) exchange booth when you get into town.
5. Use your credit card often
Not everyone may agree with me (I’m talking to you cash only folks), but I love using my credit card and I use it for everything I can when I travel. I don’t like carrying a lot of cash with me for safety reasons. Plus, I use a premium credit card that gives me theft protection (meaning, they reimburse me) if my stuff gets stolen. You should consider getting one of these credit cards too. Almost everywhere accepts credit cards, and it’s simply easier to carry around. I carry a bit of cash with me for the gelato purchases and the odd places that take cash only (like some Asian countries).
6. Don’t carry a lot of money with you
I touched on this one earlier, but carrying a lot of money on you makes you prey to getting robbed. When you whip out your wallet and there are big bills lined up one after another, people notice. Next thing you know, you have some unwanted followers. Don’t be that person. Carry an emergency fund and enough money for the day/night. Also, as a backpacker, some nights get a bit messy and your money seems to evaporate rather quickly. If you’ve got no money left… well, you’ve got no more money to waste!
7. Buy a prepaid visa card and load a couple hundred dollars for emergency purposes
This is your emergency fund. If your wallet gets stolen, your room raided, or you’re in the middle of nowhere and run out of money, you have extra money available. I do this along with always having cash on me (about $200 worth). Basically, if I was stranded in the middle of nowhere with NOTHING but my wallet, I need to know I have enough money to cover transportation and accommodation for a few days. That’s how I judge how much to keep in my wallet and a safety net.
8. Get a credit card with a very small limit for shady places
In SE Asia, you can rent scooters & motorbikes inexpensively. They take your credit card info as a “deposit” in case you damage it or don’t return it. There’s no way in hell I’m giving them my credit card with a $20 000 limit. I purposefully get another credit card with a $500 limit that I use for places that REQUIRE me to give them a credit card. If they want to do anything shady, they can only cost me up to $500. You need to be safe and protect yourself. Who knows what shady tactics they may use your credit info for.
9. Use a money belt
It’s virtually impossible to get your stuff stolen when your money belt is safely laminated to your chest. Money belts are ugly and sometimes a bit uncomfortable. But it’s practicality is 10/10 godlike. And they are super cheap. You can get a very good one for about $20. On that note, don’t put your wallet in your back pocket. Check out this excellent money belt.
10. Travel to countries not on the Euro
You’ll find non-euro countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The Euro is a VERY strong currency and you’re almost guaranteed to lose purchasing power when you convert your money. That doesn’t mean visiting Europe is always going to be expensive. Going a bit east in Europe (especially the former communist countries) will not only get you cheaper prices for everything, but exchanging money means your dollar is worth MORE over there. Note that not all non-euro countries are cheap. For example, Sweden and Iceland are non euro and expensive! For more info, check it out here. Also, visit these cities/countries (they are the cheapest in Europe).
11. Buy your own food
I did this in Barcelona when I rented an apartment for 4 days. Luckily, I had the amazing La Boquiera market close by and I bought a lot of quality seafoods and meats to cook daily. Not only were prices cheaper than back home, I saved a lot of money by eating at home. If you travel as a group and decide to rent an apartment, look for ones close to a supermarket. If you are hosteling, there is free food sometimes and usually a kitchen to cook stuff, too. Yea, eating out and enjoying the local cuisine is a major travel experience, but when money is tight, a home cooked meal or three goes a long way.
12. Travel insurance is worth every penny
So let’s say you catch a sever stomach bug eating foreign food in a foreign country. You have to go to the hospital and can barely speak the language. They make you sign papers you can’t even read. You’re in bed, zapped of energy and in pain for an entire week before you have the strength to even sit up. You end up staying in the hospital for 2 weeks and finally get good enough to leave. How much do you think this is going to cost you? Depending on where you are in the word, several hundred to several THOUSANDS of dollars – if not more, depending on your medical emergency. Don’t be dumb. Travel insurance is a safety precaution, just like auto insurance and home insurance. Buy it every time and know you’re protected in case of travel emergencies.
13. Bargain for EVERYTHING where it’s accepted practice
Living in North America, most people aren’t used to bargaining for things. But in countries where this is accepted practice, it’s their way of life. Vendors EXPECT it. Don’t be shy about it or get embarrassed. You’ll get the hang of it and it becomes fun and all part of the traveling experience. Countries in Asia, South and Central America are excellent playgrounds to get your bargaining skills going. On a side note, Vendors will give you a starting priced 4x more than what they are willing to accept. Don’t be afraid to go super low to start and meet somewhere in the middle… and if you’re good, maybe meet closer to your end 🙂
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Smart Transportation Tips For Money Conscious Backpackers
14. Fly with budget airlines
If you are flying regionally (like within Europe or within Asian), check prices on budget airlines. These are airline companies that almost always offer cheaper prices than major airlines. They typically only fly certain routes and to certain places, which is why they can offer cheaper prices. A couple of great examples is Ryanair in Europe and AirAsia in Asia. They do charge extra fee’s for baggage typically, so beware of that. But still, flying with budget airlines will usually be your cheapest method of flying.
Gone are the days of “round trip tickets” being cheaper. Traveling to a city and leaving in a different city is pretty much the same price as a round trip ticket nowadays. Check off “multiple destinations” when performing flight searches and see for yourself. I love this because you can see more variety on your trip rather than making a loop to get back to your original entry point destination.
16. Stick to a few areas and explore it in depth
Transportation costs is likely your biggest backpacking cost. One way to save money is to cut down on traveling to new areas (and time, too). Explore a region in depth and immerse yourself into the culture. It will create a richer and fuller experience, and you’ll have more money left over. Some places have cheap transportation, like SE Asia and certain parts of Europe. You’ll have more options here on a tight backpackers budget.
17. Take day trips
You can find some real gems not far from your major destination. The gorgeous Palace of Versailles is about 40 minutes outside of Paris. Dresden is only a couple hours away from Berlin by train. If you have extra time, don’t be afraid to venture out for the day. Do a little bit of research and get an idea of cool places close by. There are often tours offered by travel info booths and kiosks that advertise day trips to nearby islands, or boating adventures or the afternoon, etc. Not only will you get to meet new people, you’ll get a richer experience of the country you’re in.
18. Use the tube / underground / public transportation as your main method of transportation
Taxi’s are notorious for ripping you off. And they are (usually) the most expensive way to get around a city. Plus, traffic is usually horrible. Learn how to use the metro and underground in the cities you visit. Learn how to buy train tickets and catch trains. Use the public transportation! It’s extremely cheap in most countries. A train across Thailand costs about $40. A one way underground in Berlin costs 1.5 euros. Asking for directions, getting lost, catching the wrong train, missing your bus is all part of the travel experience. Loosen up and enjoy the journey.
19. Use Railway for relatively short distances
The train is usually the best way to travel within a country or to another country. You get to see the countryside and they are way more comfortable than airplane seats. You usually get dropped in the city centre and you don’t have to wait for your luggage to hit the carousel. I love it, and you should too! Taking the train is simple. You can prebook your train in advance (recommended during high season & if you have a rigid itinerary) or book it right at the train station. You can also book trains in travel kiosks and booths. Show up 5 mins early and get on when it arrives.
20. Fly instead of taking the train for long distances
If you need to travel long distances, I recommend you fly. A train journey could take 24 hours, where as flying would take 2 hours. Time is precious on vacation, and sometimes spending extra money to fly makes sense. But for short distance, like a 5 hour train ride, I think it’s worth it to take the train. It’s cheaper than flying, you get to see the countryside, and you don’t need to pay to get to and from the airport.
If you know you are staying in a city for a set amount of time, buy a transportation pass. When I was in London for a week, I bought a 1 week Oyster card (London Tube Pass) that I used A LOT. If I paid for my tube individually, I would have spent 4 times the money I did for the Oyster pass. This goes for any country. Be smart about it and look into these passes for the countries you’ll be in.
22. Rent a bicycle
Without a doubt, the BEST way to see a city is renting a bike (IMO). In Barcelona, I rented a bike around GOT LOST. Not only was it fun getting lost, I got to see so many “off the beaten path” places that the big bus tour didn’t go. I got to see random restaurants and shops where the locals hang out (and yelled at me for not biking in the right lane). You can travel incredible distances by bike with minimal effort – all at your own pace.
23. Rent a scooter / motorbike
Some places, like in Asia, renting a scooter is the best way to see the city / country. In Thailand, I got around the country with a scooter and a guidebook. It was amazing zooming 80km/hour in the dirt while it rained. I saw random places where I got to take amazing photos. This would never happen if I hadn’t rented a scooter. Just like a bicycle, a scooter is an amazing way to cover a lot of distance for dirt cheap.
24. Negotiate prices / ask for the meter before entering a cab
Cab drivers are notorious for ripping you off. Especially is non 1st world countries. Your best practice is to tell the driver you want the meter. Or negotiate a price before you get in (which requires you to know the going rate). The best is getting the meter, though. The WORST thing you can do is get in, tell the driver where you are going, and not talk about a price at all. You’re going to arrive at your destination with a SHOCKING cab fare.
25. Take the night train
For longer distance travel, take the night train. You are on the road while you sleep, saving you time and one nights hotel cost. You wake up and viola, you’re at your new city!
26. Walk. As much as you can
As a backpacker, you’re going to be walking a lot. So be prepared for it. Sometimes you can catch a tram or bus for 5 – 10 minutes to where you want to go, and I guess you can if you’re really tired. But try and walk to wherever you’re going, because you get to see the little streets and alleyways you probably won’t see bussing. You get to hear the locals talk, smell the restaurant food, and hear the random street performers music. If you’re an avid photographer like me, walking gives you endless opportunities to snap photos.
27. Be loose with your travel plans
Unless you have a reason to have a rigid & stict itinerary, DON’T. Why would you? Trust me on this one. You’ve never been to these cities before. You have NO IDEA what you’ll like & dislike once you get there. You’ll have no idea who you’ll meet. You won’t even know what your first hostel experience will be like. How the hell you gonna maximize your enjoyment with a strict schedule? Don’t make one. You’re going to meet people and see places that you’ll want to spend an extra day or two in. It’s a given. You’re going to hit up a place that you want to leave like yesterday. So have a “loose” idea of what you wanna do, and fill in the blanks as you travel along.
How To Choose The Right Accommodations While Backpacking
28. Stay central or very close to transportation system
I learned this from my brother a long time ago, when I first traveled to Las Vegas. I stayed in a fairly central hotel on the Vegas strip (Treasure Island) and it made a WORLD of a difference. We went back to our hotel often (to refresh, change, drop stuff off, etc). If it was far away off the strip, we’d have to cab it every time… and you know what that means…. wasted money! Anytime I travel now, I pick a place as close as possible to “where it’s happening” or, at the very least, somewhere very close to a main transportation system. Even if I have to pay a little more for a central location, I do it. They money I save on transportation costs will outweigh the cost of staying further away for cheaper.
29. Rent an apartment
I was pretty new to the idea of renting an apartment until I did so in Barcelona. It makes sense if you are traveling with a group of people who can pitch it. The luxury of renting an apartment is that you get a lot of space and privacy (compared to a dorm room). When everyone pitches in, the cost can be a lot less than you think. You can cook your own meals in your apartment kitchen and hang out in your undies if you want. It’s awesome. Probably the best place to rent cheap apartments is Airbnb.
30. Couch surf
If you are on a tight budget, couch surfing is big money saver. Basically, you stay with a “host” who offers his/her home, and a bed, for free. You get to meet interesting locals (hopefully), who typically like to meet people and show you around. You are entering a strangers home and “living” there for a day or more. So sometimes it can be weird if the host is weird. Thankfully, there is an couch surfing APP where people rate hosts they’ve had. So it’s fairly easy to see who’s trustworthy and worth couch surfing with.
31. Pick hostels that have a common lounge / bar / hangout area
This is especially important when you are backpacking solo. You don’t want to end up spending your nights alone, or going out to a bar alone, right? The BEST way to meet other similar travellers, who are traveling by themselves, too, is to specifically stay at places that have a good reputation for meeting people. How do you find these accommodations? Trip Advisor is the best place. Or do a google search for “best hostels for solo travellers in Bangkok,” for example. Just make sure you go to the hang out area and open your mouth. Trust me that people will be friendly and they are all there looking to meet people too.
32. Stay at a hostel for a few days, even if you have lots of money
I recommend staying at hostels for your first few nights when you travel solo, or even if you are traveling as a group, if meeting new people is a main goal of yours. Hostels are the best place to meet new people and tag along with whatever they may be doing. You can meet tons of people and pick and choose who you like and who you want to get to know and spend time with. It’s harder to meet other like minded travellers at night clubs, pubs, or group day trips. You just have this built in social proof with people from the same hostel, and there are more people just like you at hostels too. So take advantage of hosteling it up.
33. Travelling with a friend will save you tons of money
Solo travel is excellent for getting out of your comfort zone and really putting yourself out there, but traveling with a friend will always give you that safety net for “just in case” scenarios. Like if you ever get super sick, you’ll have someone to take care of you. But another HUGE benefit of traveling with a companion or two is the money savings. You guys can split costs for things like cabs and rooms. Share shampoo and food. And sometimes qualify for group discounts, depending on how large your group is. It can be pretty hard finding a good travel buddy, but if money is tight, backpacking with a friend will cut your costs down significantly.
34. Tipping makes a world of a difference
A lot of places around the world don’t expect tip, or they expect a small amount, like 10%. Even in places where tipping is not normal practice, I like to tip because I find it gives me that little extra bit of service that makes a difference. I was in a restaurant in Vienna and I was the ONLY person to tip in my group. After, my server came by and she was extra nice to me and asked me questions about where I was from and what I was doing in Vienna. She then went on to give me helpful tips on how to see the city and things she recommends doing. This is just one example of how “going the little extra mile” with a bit of money can make a world of difference. I like to tip maids, bartenders, and basically anyone who “serves” me. They don’t always “pay me back”, and I don’t expect anything back, but it has paid off enough for me to continue doing it.
How To Stay Safe Backpacking
35. Avoid pickpockets with these simple tips
Never keep your wallet in your back pocket. EVER. Keep your purse tight under your arm and never hang your purse on the back of your chair. Don’t leave your wallet and phone on the table when you’re dining outside. Keep your backpack in front of you, or don’t put anything valuable on the outside zipper. In fact, don’t carry anything overly valuable in your backpack, as they can even get into your main zipper and steal your stuff. Buy a money belt and use it. Overall, just be aware of your surroundings. If 6 random kids come up to you and shove papers in your face, you’re getting robbed. If a random person asks you to hold their baby, you’re getting robbed. If a random person stops you for an odd reason, you’re probably getting robbed. If a random person asks to take your picture with your camera, they may steal your camera. You need to keep anything worth stealing firmly in your hands (like your camera) or hidden from plain sight. Rick Steve has a quick post about outsmarting thieves. And on a side note, learn how to prevent hotel room theft here.
36. Learn how to spot and avoid scammers
When you’re new in a city, you don’t know “how things work” and locals feed off that. One time in Dubrovnik, Croatia we wanted to go to the top of the city to get some awesome views at sunset. On our walk up, these cab drivers tried to get us to take their cab. They said it was closed today and they could take us to a different point to see the city. It could have been closed. I dunno. But I didn’t trust them. So we kept walking up and what do you know, it was open. These little deceiving people are everywhere in tourist places. You can’t always know who to trust, but just be aware that they exist. You’ll be promised a “fast track route” to your super busy tourist attraction… and maybe it will be. Like when I was in Rome, a tour guide was gathering people up for a guided tour and promised us we would get in right away and avoid the lines. Turns out that’s exactly what happened and we got an awesome quick tour. And sometimes you’ll get burned BAD. You can’t always know, and the more you travel, the better you’ll be able to judge these things. If in doubt, just go with the “government” or public ticket passes instead of private ones – if you have a choice. I like the TV show scam city, which exposes scams in popular tourist cities around the world.
37. Keep all valuables right on you
I’m talking your passport, credit cards, and cash. try not to leave it in your backpack zipper. Don’t just leave it in your luggage. Store it in your room safe (if it seems safe). The thing about people who steal your stuff is, they will look at you and judge you based on how easy they think they can take your belongings. Make yourself look like a difficult target and they may just skip taking you on. Hold your stuff firmly. Have your backpack in front of you. Keep valuables out of sight. Looking like a seasoned backpacker will scare most klepto’s away.
38. Carry hand sanitizer or wet wipes
I’m a germophobe and I hate eating without washing my hands. It’s a pain to get up sometimes, and sometimes there isn’t even a washroom. So I always have hand sanitizer with me to kill germs before I eat. Or when I touch something gross. I’m a HUGE hit when I travel because everyone always borrows my Purell.
39. Photocopy all your important ID and documents.
Have a copy with you. Saves copies and store them on your phone, in your email, or a online storage place like Evernote. If you ever lose your passport, you will need to prove you are YOU, and a photocopy if your information is precious. Otherwise, you may have to call home and get people to verify you and all sorts of other shenanigans at your Embassy in whatever country you’re in.
40. Let your credit card company know you will be traveling
If you don’t, they may freeze your credit card when you make an overseas purchase. And that sucks, because you have to call them and deal with it abroad – ain’t nobody got time for that.
41. Buy cheap light weight slippers for walking indoor in places like hostels and showers
Hostel floors, especially in the washrooms, can be dirty as hell. So avoid grimy floors by packing lightweight slippers. Or wear your flip flops.
General Backpacking Advice That Will Make Your Trip AWESOME
42. Choose family run businesses
If you can visit a restaurant, accommodation, winery, or whatever that is family owned and operated, you’re likely going to get a much richer experience. It’s their life, their business, and they put their heart and soul into what they do. They are friendlier and care about you more. In Vienna, I went to a Schnapps shop that was run by the same family for a few generations. I got so much history about schnapps and got to taste some of the best schnapps Vienna had to offer. I would never get this level of experience in a chain store.
43. Visit tourist info kiosks for info about anything
These tourist kiosks are often found in train stations or areas where tourists frequent. They are your guide to the city you’re in, so take advantage of this free service. You can get free maps of the city and ask them any questions, like where is the old town, where can I take great pictures, where is the main shopping streets, and where are good restaurants. And the most important one is usually how do I get there (this is sometimes hard to research before hand). They are there to serve you, so use it!
44. Learn about each city / country before visiting
The first time I visited Europe I didn’t know anything about anything. And while EVERYTHING was new to me (which kept things super spontaneous), I wish I learned more about each destination to truly appreciate what I was seeing. I didn’t know what foods were local, what fun things locals like to do, or anything at all. If you want a rich cultural experience, take the time to read up on your destination and you will more fully appreciate the experiences you’ll get. Check out a guidebook or download the city app.
45. Don’t know where to go? Use proven paths by tours
When you’re planning your travels and need ideas on where to travel to, check out proven paths. All you need to do is go to websites that offer tours and follow their itineraries. Tweak it where necessary. These companies have mastered what’s popular and have ironed out their itineraries. So piggy back off their hard work.
46. Go where the locals hang out
Without a doubt, this is one of my favourite backpacking tips. I love eating wherever the locals eat, because it’s cheaper, and the food is better. Sometimes by A LOT. In Bali, right behind the central tourist area was a random restaurant (didn’t even look like one to be honest) and not only was the food 1/5 the price of the tourist centre, it also tasted better too. And I only knew about this place because a local guided us there. If locals hang out at certain places at night, chances are you’ll get a local experience hanging out there, too.
47. Talk to locals all the time and ask them stuff
How do you know what the locals like to do? Well, you simply ask them. Talk to the hotel staff. talk to store clerks. Talk to the local on the subway beside you. Ask them their opinions on anything, and you’ll find they are (basically) ALWAYS willing to help. Sometimes very enthusiastically, too. I don’t know what it is, but locals are so willing to help tourists with anything. So don’t be afraid to ask. They are the BEST source of information. Guidebooks HELP, but they are written for the masses. Get a local to give you that authentic recombination. Want to hang out at a pub with your friends? Ask some locals where some cool pubs are. These little things take your backpacking trip from great to unforgettable.
48. Consider group tours
I know some people aren’t fan of group tours and like to roam on their own terms, but group tours offer perks you WON’T get on your own. The biggest one being a local (hopefully) guiding you around and telling you history that you’d never know roaming around yourself. You’ll see a castle and be like WOW, it’s gorgeous. But when was it built? Why was it built? Who lived in it? What’s it being used for now? There are so many unfilled stories you won’t get by yourself. Second, you get to meet people on guided tours. And if you’re traveling solo, it’s your opportunity to find like minded people to connect with.
With group travel (like Contiki tours), it’s also a great way to get guided tours of cities and meet like minded people. If you are afraid to travel alone or want a company to take care of everything for you (accommodations, what to do with your day, etc), then take a group tour. Yes, it will cost you more than doing it on your own. You’re paying someone to take you around and take care of your food (sometimes) and accommodations. There is of course a cost to that. I think group travel offers the best of both worlds of guided tours and meeting new people. If you’re young, no better place than Contiki :).
49. Slow down and pace yourself. Take in the city
Try and spend a few days in larger cities to really get a feel for it. You can even say the same with small towns. You won’t get to see as much on your holidays, but you’ll surely get a fuller and richer experience. Plus, you’ll save money on transportation costs.
50. Don’t be a food, wrap your tool
Traveling is an awesome way to meet new people and have sex. Nobody back home will judge you (they won’t know). Which is why I think traveling makes people so much more “loose”. Just wrap your junk. The last thing you want is herpes or aids. No joke.
51. Avoid eating in touristy areas
Tourist eateries means jacked up prices and usually less tasty foods. Sometimes just a few blocks away from the main tourist area lies authentic and reasonably priced foods. Your best bet is to ask locals where to eat around here. Ask where are good places to eat where the locals like to go. BINGO!
52. Ask your server for recommendations
Your server is one of the best resources for anything in a new city. Just ask away. Ask about attractions, hotels, clubs, advice on where to meet girls, whatever. They are a wealth of information that I think many people overlook.
53. Quick dry as much stuff as you can
If you can get underwear that dries quickly or other clothing that dry quickly, you’ll save money, time, and space. The thing about backpacking is that you’ll carry small amounts of clothing, and be washing your stuff in the sink as you go. The faster it dries the better. You don’t truly know how important this is until you actually backpack and experience it.
54. Always have a bottle of water on you
Whether you’re trekking somewhere for just a couple of hours or going to bed at night, keep a bottle of water close by. You will get thirsty and need it.
55. Choose one good guidebook
Guidebooks are heavy and take up a ton of space. But mostly, they’re just heavy. carry several guidebooks is insane and stupid in my opinion. You need to do more research and “go with the flow” as things come along during your travels. Have a general idea of what to do, where to stay, and how to get around. The rest will work itself out. Backpacking is all about adventure and making decisions on the fly. You don’t need 4 guidebooks to help you with that. Talk to locals, talk to the front desk person, and talk to tourist info. You’ll probably get better recommendations than guidebooks anyways. I like Rick Steve’s guidebooks because he keeps it real.
56. Learn a little bit of local language
Simple words like hello, bye, sorry, and thank you are the BIG 4 keywords you need to learn in each place you go. It makes a HUGE difference to the locals. Even if you butcher it, they see you are polite and somebody who gives a damn – and not just another tourist who’s going in and out of their city. Hit up the app store on your smart phone.
57. Seek out free guided tours or pay for them
Guided tours are the way to go in cities you have a limited time in or don’t know anything about. There are often free guided tours or tours that work on tips. Seek them out by doing google searches. Paid guides are great too, and tend to be pretty good in my experience. I’ve talked about this earlier, but basically, you’ll learn a TON from a local guide. You’re not going to learn the same amount of stuff on your own.
58. Shit will happen. Don’t sweat it
If you’re a perfectionist and want things to go a certain way, backpacking may frustrate you. Just remember that travel is not perfect and your stuff will go missing. You’ll miss your train and have to spend an extra night in god knows where. Your bag will arrived broken or you’ll fall and cut yourself badly. You’ll eat something that destroys your stomach and meet a guy who seemed nice but just wants to get it in. It’s all part of the fun and experience of traveling. It’s truly an adventure. Just go with it. Take it in stride. Accept that shenanigans will happen and they make great stories to tell your friends and family back home. Whatever happens, make the most of it and keep your head up.
59. Write in your journal daily
Keep a Rick Steve’s and feelings you had. It may seem a bit girly but when you look back and read it, along with looking at your travel pictures, all your experiences come back to life. It’s amazing. It’s like reliving your travel adventures all over again. Make sure to journal daily because you’ll forget half the stuff you did yesterday.
60. Pack snacks wherever you’re going
Snacks are life savers. You will have times where you get hella hungry and there isn’t any food available for awhile. Or it’s bloody expensive or super gross. Keep granola bars, bananas, chips, or whatever in your bag to munch on when hunger strikes.
61. If a restaurant has a menu in multiple languages, it will probably suck
Unless you are in Italy, because Italian food is awesome no matter where you eat.
62. Eat local food and eat what’s on special
When I dine out in new places, I almost ALWAYS ask the server “what is local” here. For example, when I was in Slovenia, I had no idea what they eat there. So I asked our server to recommend something local in Slovenia and he recommend deer meat wrapped in bacon. I never had deer meat before, and I love bacon. It was an easy choice. Now I can say I had deer meat. On a related note, if you don’t understand the menu and your server doesn’t speak much of your language, just ask for whats on special and if it sounds okay, get that.
63. Get into photography and buy good equipment
It blows my mind how people spend thousands of dollars on their once in a lifetime vacation and bring a $200 piece of shit camera. Sorry about the language, but it literally BLOWS my mind. How you gonna butcher your photography with that kind of junk? Invest in a GREAT camera. Not just good, but GREAT. Buy a DSLR if you can afford it. Or buy a very high end point and shoot. Buy a GoPro and a selfie stick to video your way around. Just spend the money. It’s an investment that is worth more than the pictures and videos. You get to relive memories and experiences just by looking at them. You get to remember what your friends look like and the creepy night club dude, too.
64. Do your research before going to your new destination
Far too many people visit a new place without spending much time researching things to do and other essential pre trip planning that can take your trip from a good experience to an unforgettable experience. For example, if you are backpacking Vietnam, take some time to figure out interesting locations to stay, learn the local language a little, and what foods you can experience there. In my mind, being a little prepared in the beginning helps you create better experiences.
Backpacking Packing Tips
65. Travel sized laundry detergent
As a smart and savvy backpacker, you will pack LIGHT and only carry essential items. One of these essential items is packets of laundry detergent. You will be washing your own clothes in a sink, and travel sized laundry detergent is the perfect solution to get those beer stains out. You CAN buy these on the road, but I find they are extremely hard to find. They don’t weigh a lot so I like to pack them.
66. Bring only a carry on backpack if you can
An expert backpacker can get his/her stuff down to just a carry on. That means just a few pairs of tops, bottoms, and essential toiletries. Moving around is so much easier with a smaller backpack, and you won’t have to check your baggage when flying. Walk right off the plane and out of the airport. Plus, an airport can never lose your luggage if it’s with you, right!
67. Pack less than you think you need and pack the right clothes
Take all the stuff you think you need, and cut it in half. Then cut it some more. that’s probably what you actually need on your trip. Overpacking is an epidemic that newbies fall prey to. Most places you visit will have shops to buy whatever you need. Shampoo, shirts, combs, and toothpaste. For god sakes, don’t bring your blow dryer. Unless you are traveling with a pack of girls and everyone shares it. With clothes, pack clothes that can be mixed and matched. If it doesn’t go well with something else, ditch it. You can look different for an entire week with 2 bottoms and 3 tops! If you are in cheap countries, buy a tank top for $5 instead of packing a bunch from home. Toss it when you’re done or keep bring it home. either way, keep that backpack nice and light.
68. Carry any essential items in your carry-on
When you board a plane, or you’re on the road, keep any important stuff with you. I’m talking meds, passports, money, etc. Don’t leave it in your main luggage and risk it going missing, or worse, stolen. make it a practice to keep your main valuables VERY close by.
69. Pack Earplugs
Something about dorm rooms that you need to know is people snore like crazy. If you are a light sleeper, bring earplugs. People rummage through their bags at 5 in the morning or come back late at night and start talking when everyone is sleeping. WTF!! Soo annoying. Investing in earplugs (which are super cheap BTW) can make or break your next day.
70. Carry a set of extra clothes on airplane
In your carry on, have spare clothes just in case your bag goes missing. It may not turn up for a few days… so you’ll want a spare set of clothes in case.
71. Pack a mini first aid kit
Pretty self explanatory, but bandaids, q tips, and tiger balm come in handy when you or a friend gets hurt.
72. Roll your clothes
You can pack more stuff when you roll your clothes. This is a pretty known tip, but for the newbies and first time backpackers out there, it’s super handy.
73. Have a separate laundry bag to keep your dirty clothes
If you shove all your dirty clothes into the same bag, it makes all your clothes stink. Bring a laundry bag with you and put and dirty clothes in there. It will keep the fresh clothes fresh. It’s a life saver, so do it! Worst case, just bring a black garbage bag. It’s a bit unglam, but works the same way.
Do you have a backpacking tip to share?
I want to know about it! I’ll include it in this post. Tell me about it in the comment section below!