7 things to know before your first backpacking trip – advice from seasoned travellers

This to know before your first backpacking trip - advice from seasoned travelers

“Every pro was once an amateur. Every expert was once a beginner. So dream big and start now. “

Basically you have to start somewhere. We don’t all have a magical crystal ball telling us the right path to go on. But we do have the wisdom of those who have gone before us.

We all make mistakes that we learn from them while travelling – that’s what it’s all about! But there are a few lessons that are better learned from others – those who have been there done that.

7 Things to know before your first backpacking trip: advice from seasoned travellers

April from Karina’s Extraordinary Life

As a newbie backpacker I have learned some tips for creative problem solving that have saved my tail more than once. Here are three items you might not think to bring in your pack but you should always carry on you! These tools that have proven very helpful to me in prevention and management of routine problems Backpacking 4 Beginnersthat occur on the road.

  1. Shower shoes – foot care is incredibly important on the road. Avoid warts and other foot fungus by always traveling with quick-dry and lightweight sandals.
  2. Duct tape – Some thieves have perfected the art of slicing the bottom of backpackers bags on crowded streets to steal our belongings. To help prevent this from happening line the inside of your backpack with layers of duct tape. It is an inexpensive method to reinforce the fabric in your backpack.
  3. Ziploc bags – perfect for storing toiletries, especially when liquids such as shampoo is involved. Place all electronic items (and your passport) in a ziplock before placing in your pack in case of a monsoon.

Shraddha from Streettrotter.com

Someone once told me, ‘the success of your trip is directly proportional to the weight you carry’.
No doubt, a very first backpacking trip is about courage, passion and lots of excitement. But as
much as it is about you and your journey, it is also majorly about your ‘Backpack’.

Choose something too small – and you will not be able to fit in half of your stuff, and if you carry
something too big – you will just end up loading your shoulders with all the extra weight you
didn’t have to carry at all. In both cases, the wrong backpack can ruin your entire experience

Start with an ideal size of anything between 50 litres to 70 litres. I personally have a 65 litres and
it works perfect for a petite, short person like me. Make sure your bag is subdividedbackpacking 4 beginners
into two internal compartments, so that you can make it smaller or full size anytime you want,
depending upon what and how much you want to stock. Look for a bag which is contoured to
have a lumbar-shaped padded back, as it allows for regular air ventilation between your back and
your bag, and also avoids back pain. A strong back support is a must, along with padded
shoulder straps, extra S straps and essentially the waist straps. As you never know what weather
conditions your trail can leave you with, always opt for a bag that comes with an inbuilt rain
cover, is made of water resistant material and is also quick dry.

Last but not the least, once you pick the right backpack – divide your belongings into categories. Put them into separate zip-locks to compartmentalise your load further into sections inside your bag. This will help you find your things faster, without digging inside your bag and unpacking everything every time.

Want to discover what backpack is right for you? Do our Quiz and find out. TAKE THE QUIZ HERE

Raphael Alexander Zoren from Journey Wonders

If I were to send a message to my old self, I would tell him to invest in a good camera from the get-go. Memories will always be there (at least until I get older and contract Alzheimer’s) but photos are an important way to keep track of your journey as a newbie backpacker.
I still bang my head against the wall once I realise that my iPhone photos of Easter Islands could have been way better with a DRSL!!!
backpacking for beginners

If you want to get better pics – leave your iPhone at home

Josh & Liz from Peanuts or Pretzels

Travel Tip: Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Your Secondary Travel Bag

People put so much thought into their primary backpacks, yet rarely do they take the time and energy to find the right secondary bag. It seems that the secondary travel bag is a total afterthought to some backpackers; however, it is an important piece of equipment that can have a big impact on your experience during your trip.

Your secondary bag is what you will use when you are out exploring for the day. It should be large enough to the basics, like money, maps, snacks, water, etc. and it should have a variety of secure zipping pockets. Yet, it must also be comfortable enough to lug around with you all day.

For those long days travel days on the road, your secondary bag will also become an invaluable asset. When traveling by bus, train, plane, taxi, etc., you should be able to expand the bag to carry your valuables including cameras, computers, and cords (what good are electronics if you lose all the cords?!?!). You should NEVER check any of these items, even on a bus. So your secondary bag must be functional and versatile.

Our best advice for newbie backpackers is to take the time to find the right secondary bag, and even test it out before your trip. Finding a secondary travel bag that has the right combination of functionality, size, and comfort will play a key role in how much you enjoy your experience, including on those difficult travel days. —

backpacking 4 beginners

Meg – Backpacking 4 Beginners

Once upon a time in a far off land called Myanmar, a silly young backpacker was bitten by a cow…

Yes you read that right!

We were on a guided tour of the mountain hilltribes around Kanyakamuri in Burma, when we visited a traditional nepalese village. One of the village cows had recently had a baby, and our guide said that it was ‘oh so cute’ to have it suckle on your fingers and I should put my hand in and see for myself.

Which I did, until it bit me on the pinky finger.

I always carry hand sanitiser with me (another must have for all backpackers btw) so I waited until it stopped bleeding and rubbed a large dollop of sanitiser into the wound. But, my attempt was in vein and it got infected, which meant I had to go to the doctor, who said I had to get both a tetanus and rabies shots.

The downer was that I had to get 5 separate rabies injections over a certain time frame, meaning I had to find injections in Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong and China due to our travel schedule. All ranging in different amounts of difficulty and different prices for the treatment.

Believing that my travel insurance would cover the costs we just paid up without a care in the world.

myanmar hill tribe

Hill tribe with the Vampire Cow!

My Tip: Make sure you get a good quality travel insurance policy and that you thoroughly read the terms and conditions.

You see, turns out that the only way I could claim my insurance was only if I returned home to Australia and had a local doctor approve the treatments I had, had overseas. But I wasn’t going home – in fact I haven’t been home in 2 years. Which means no pay out.

I had to wear the full cost of my medical treatments, which came to well over $300 AUD even though I had travel insurance.

I’m not saying don’t get medical insurance – I would never ever travel without it! I’m saying do your research first, and make sure you get the right insurance for you and the backpacking trip you’re doing.

If you are looking for a good company to go with, we highly recommend World Nomads we use them for all our travels.

Lucy from Lucy Miles Away

Among the various things I really wish I’d known when I first started backpacking (you really don’t need a mosquito net, nor do you need every other item off the shelf in the adventure outlet store), I wish I’d heard this quote sooner: “Attitude is the difference between an adventure and an ordeal”. It neatly sums up every piece of long-winded advice I’ve ever given anyone asking for help with a first-time trip.

Years ago, did I panic when I spontaneously decided to hike in the Himalayas and hadn’t packed hiking boots? Yes

Did I need to? No – there was a rental store just down the street.

Was I terrified when I missed my first train in Bulgaria? Yes.

Did I need to be? No – there was another train 45 minutes later.

Remember that as long as you’re healthy and safe everything else can be figured out – smile and enjoy the mistakes, they make the best stories! Oh and one more thing – to quote Baz Luhrmann – wear sunscreen!

Lucy rockin’ her rented hiking boots

Tommo from Backpacking 4 Beginners

Quite often you will find yourself in situations where you need sleep. You’ve been on tour all day, travelling for hours on end, or you’re seriously hung over from a night on the booze. For some reason while abroad it will seem like the universe is determined to make sure that no matter how exhausted you are, you will get zero sleep. You’ll have people walk into your dorm room talking at top of their lungs, playing music, having sex. Busses playing Cambodia’s 101 best karaoke hits at top volume or cleaning ladies barging in going “I clean room now?”

This is why I Never Ever travel anywhere without earplugs and eye mask – trust me it’s a life saver! And the number one thing you should add to your packing list. In fact I travel with a supply of ear plugs just in case any go missing along the way. They are lightweight, drown out the noise and mean you can catch up on some much needed zzz’s, the same goes for the eye mask. Use them both together and head off into sleepy land in peace and quiet.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, i’ll receive a small commission payout. Probably enough for a beer or two at the pub. All opinions remain our own.

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