There’s a lot to consider when preparing for a trip. You’ll need to book your flights, check your visas, pack your essentials, and maybe even learn how to use a VPN to stay safe online as you travel.
There’s certainly something to think about from every angle.
To take some of the stress out of strategising, we’ve got a handful of tips that’ll make your travel well planned.
So tighten the straps on your rucksack – here’s our 8 Tips For Your First Solo Backpacking Trip:
- Prepare A VPN
- Prepare For Any & All Climates
- Double Check Your Visas
- Keep Your Cash On Lock
- Book & Plan Everything In Advance
- Eat Like A Local And Save
- Remember Some First-Aid
- Keep An Eye On The Clock
Prepare A VPN
Maybe you’ve heard about “The Great Firewall”, China’s big website blocker, but did you know that Cuba, Russia, Turkey, Vietnam (and more) restrict access to big websites like Netflix and Facebook?
Thankfully, there is a way to keep your Instagram while visiting Istanbul. A VPN.
Since VPNs are often restricted in these countries, it’s best to download and subscribe before you travel. After that, it’s as simple as choosing a server in an unrestricted country and flicking the switch.
But keeping you on the feed isn’t the only purpose behind using a VPN – they can keep you safe too. When you’re out in the sticks or the concrete jungle, you’ll be connected to a bevy of unsecured networks.
Setting up a secure, public wifi connection is difficult and most won’t manage it; there is the risk of outsiders tunnelling into the connection to read your data, and in any case, the network admin will be able to view your browsing history.
So, if you’ve got your sights set on one of these countries, a reliable VPN will keep you safe and scrolling during those long train rides.
Prepare For Any & All Climates
Are you going during the wet season, the scorching summer, staying by the sea or inland?
What’s the temperature like at night, or in a tent? And what if you want to go to the beach?
Packing for all climates might sound foolish if you’re just visiting one place during one season, but when it comes to international climates, anything can happen.
That said, as long as you have a good jacket to keep you warm, you can often find rain ponchos, or summer wear to buy at tourist locations.
Double Check Your Visas
During (and after) the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries introduced additional tests, certificates, and restrictions to travelling.
Canada had three or more similar applications to fill out, which prompted many weary travellers to panic a little as they tackled all this extra paperwork. Nowadays, the restrictions have relaxed, but it’s still worth checking and double checking.
Government websites like SmartTraveller are the best resource here, as they have the most up-to-date information.
Keep Your Cash On Lock
Even in places where you’re not at risk of being pickpocketed or you can use your phone to pay, your coin & bills should get a little extra TLC. After all, how will you pay for your morning hot chocolates, or streetside Jian Bing without it?
Dividing your cash between pockets, squirrelling your savings away behind zippers and locks, and generally knowing how much you have (and for what) will keep you from waking and finding no bacon.
And if you do fear for your funds, a bumbag beneath your blazer or a hundred Soles stuck inside your Panama hat might just come in handy at the most unlikely of times.
Book & Plan Everything In Advance
Yes, you might think it’ll stifle your free spirit having everything set up for you. But once you’ve got the important stuff on paper, you can follow your whims wherever they might take you.
And besides, if you book tickets early, or look around for sales and coupons, your money will take you further.
But of course, it’s not just about the money. Knowing which bed & breakfast, or backpackers lodge you’ll be at each night, will also help you better organise your time, see more, and maybe find something special nearby.
Eat Like A Local And Save
Street food is cheap food (and good food).
Not being afraid to dip into the weird and wonderful world of backstreets, hole-in-the-walls, and food trucks will pay off, literally and metaphorically.
Keep an eye on where the locals are eating, and don’t be afraid to do some covert ops to secure a scrumptious supper. The more casual and confident the consumer, the better – especially if they’re coming for their daily Douhua.
And a word to the wise: try keeping to the local meal times, even if it means you’ll be waiting in line. This will help ensure that all your meals are made fresh.
Pack A First-Aid Kit
Adventuring has its risks, and it’s rare to return from a hiking trip without a few cuts and grazes.
If you’re going off track, you’ll need supplies. Bandages, aspirin, disinfectant, allergy meds, and even a little Vaseline can come in handy for off-road travellers.
You can purchase first aid kits from suppliers or easily make your own. All you need is a toiletries bag, some first aid essentials, and some thoughtful packing.
Keep An Eye On The Clock
Checking your watch might not be the most exciting part of hiking through the Himalayas, or sojourning through the Louvre. But if you want to squeeze every last drop out of your adventures, or at least make your flights on time, it’s a good habit to watch the clock.
That said, if you’re more of a phone-reminder type, you might prefer to set up your big reminders before you leave home – “Leave for the airport in two hours”.
Just remember to give yourself plenty of time if you’re not going to be checking your phone often.
At the end of the day, your first solo backpacking experience is more likely to feel invigorating and liberating over terrifying.
With good planning and all these safe and savvy travel tips at your disposal, you should find wandering the world to bring nothing but enrichment galore.
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