There are so many things to learn when out on the road, and setting out backpacking can be daunting for anyone. We've collated a few of the best travelling truths as well as some life lessons from seasoned backpackers to give you a head start before you set off on your next big adventure. Here are the 25 best things to know before you go backpacking, sent in by our expert travel community…
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Travellers have no age! I'm backpacking in Southeast Asia at the moment and I met the most gorgeous people ever...some of them were more than 10 years older than me but we still became good friends!
That you can find/make long lasting friendships through travelling!
You will never get enough/tired of it. Make it as long as you can.
Gianni Maurizio La Rocca
The best lesson I learned is that in every part of the world, in every possible condition, you can find a home.
Never have everything planned like a maniac, 'cause in the end it's the people you meet that will make your trip real and memorable.
Never forget to carry fingernail clippers. They are so handy in so many ways, and you never want to make a wrong impression in a foreign country with long finger nails!
Don't do fire limbo on Koh Phi Phi in Thailand without sensible shoes...
Always stay in dorm/shared rooms! So much fun.
Don't worry. It's all part of the experience!
Always bring a towel...
Always have an eye mask and earplugs to sleep in dorms, buses, trains, airplanes...
PACK LIGHT!! I learned the hard way...
See our tips on what to pack in your travel backpack.
If you want to meet new people you have to make an effort everyday.
The first question fellow hostel mates ask is "where are you from?" or "what do you do?" Backpacking the world teaches you to learn who you are. Some serious self reflection going on! When you have those long layovers, train rides, or alone time in your commute you have a lot of time to think about who you are.
If you're travelling for a long time, make sure it's with someone you can stand. Choose wisely!
Jackson John Çhinnappan
Backpacking taught me the ability to be alone, but not lonely, and never allow fear to stand in my way. On a personal level discovering my own path and appreciating the lil' things in life is something that no classroom could do.
Pack your bag so that it's comfortable on your back.
Just ask. If you're lost, ask for directions. If you're unsure, ask. If you need help, ask. If you need an extra towel, your bed changed, to join others for dinner, restaurant recommendations... I learned that you just have to politely ask!
That poorer children are still just children. If you have nothing, or choose not to give something to children on the street at least stop and chat with them, look them in the eye, play a game of hand slaps - anything. You wouldn't walk by a child at home and refuse to look at them; children are children no matter where you go!
Travelling takes control of all your senses and your full attention that is why we love it because it makes you feel so alive. You can memorise every feature about a place or a monument from a book but never tell me how you felt diving into that culture or the smell at the streets. Keep on travelling! People are always good, no matter where you are.
Everyone can see the sights of tourism. The monuments, the statues, the cathedrals, the architecture, the museums; but it's the people you meet along the way that makes backpacking worth it. It's all about those unique moments in time exclusive to you and those who shared the experience with. I like to meet people from around the world. I can google image Big Ben or the leaning tower of Pisa or whatever, but I can't google the experience of connecting with people from around the world. In my opinion, this is the true essence of travel.
Talk to everyone you can and get involved in the culture as much as possible (and respectfully).
Sheldon Lawrence Chambers
Don't go travelling to another country with preconceptions.
One thing I always make sure is look up how to get from the airport/train station to the hostel and have a good plan on how to do that. I think it's also a good idea to try and learn the basic language skills of the country you're going to!
Want more? Find out how to travel more sustainably.