10 Things Every Traveler Learns On Their First Backpacking Adventure
Backpacking for the first time can often be strenuous and even nerve-wracking because of the plethora of outcomes that can occur from being away from your natural surroundings for the first time. After all, it takes a lot of planning and forbearance to make sure you get it right, and that you have the dream adventure you've always wanted, so to help, we've compiled a list of things every first-time backpacker learns on their travels.
1. Less is more
This is a common mistake everyone makes, from backpackers right through to traditional holidaymakers. Why? Because we're naturally accustomed to having a whole wardrobe to choose from so when we're away we suddenly panic and think that every possible situation will require an outfit change. And yes, that includes guys, too!
So ditch those fancy pair of trainers and expensive pair of jeans. Chances are you'll mostly be in your flip flops and shorts- even on nights out- so go easy and pack only what you NEED, not what you THINK you need.
2. Earplugs can be your best friend
Your best companion on your travels will be your earplugs, only most never buy them and instead find out the hard way that sleeping in a shared dormitory is full of sounds you rather wish you could block out.
So to save yourself listening to that overzealous Australian couple getting it on for the third night in a row, invest in a pair of earplugs. You won't regret them.
3. Don't try to impress everyone with your guitar skills
We get it: You're one of those few lucky people who can woo people's hearts by your virtuosity, and good on you: you'll probably never be single. However, it can come across as ridiculously corny and cliched if you continually whip out the guitar and belt out your own rendition of a famous Oasis ballad.
So please, just don't do it. Don't be that person everyone despises. Play the guitar when you're by yourself or if someone asks you, but leave the pursuit of industry domination to the streets of your hometown/city, and not on an idyllic beach, okay?
4. Don't worry if you get lost
Newbies to the travelling world often fret if they go off the beaten track and lose their way when in reality they are giving themselves an adventure. And who knows what you might encounter? You could come across people that might even take you into their home and teach you more about their culture. Or experience wildlife that you wouldn't have otherwise seen under the tight controls of tourist operators.
That said, you might just wander around hopelessly and die a slow death (you won't, don't worry) but at least you had an adventure unlike no other. You might even lose your friends after a night out and bump into your future partner. Just embrace whatever obstacles come your way, and you might just experience something special.
5. Don't be fooled by 'free' excursions
First-time travellers can be naive and thus enticed by offers that sound too good to be true. Sure, you might hitch a free ride around Bangkok, but you'll soon regret it once you realise part of the bargain is to visit countless gem shops and tailors that will almost physically force you to buy their products (experience it for yourself if you don't believe us).
Instead, prepare to pay for quality experiences as opposed to stressful and shoddy ones.
6. Don't expect your body to cope all the time
A backpacking adventure can put the body through more than it's ever been through before, with cheap beer, sleepless nights, long haul flights, and food from street vendors giving you more than your body's used to.
What we're really getting at is this: Don't worry if your trips to the bathroom become more frequent. Just expect that to be the case and go with it because if you don't, you'll probably have a huge wig out and look for the first flight home.
7. It all adds up
It's easy to get giddy with excitement at the prospect of paying as little as $10 a night for a beach hut with sweeping views of the ocean and a bar at your beckon call. But it adds up. Big time.
So be careful and try to bear in mind that your initial expenses are accommodation and food. Without sounding like your parents, eating and sleeping matter when you're putting your body through such an experience, but of course, play hard as well. Just don't embarrass yourself by running out of money and calling your parents for more.
8. Make sure you inform your bank that you are going away
More often than not, travellers forget to tell their local bank of their travel plans, meaning the longer you're away spending money in a foreign land, the more suspicious the fraud team will become.
So naturally they cancel your account, and once you've told them those transactions are yours, they will send you a replacement card- to your home address halfway across the world. So avoid this and say you'll be away. It isn't hard.
9. There are more good people than bad people
Contrary to reports on the news of backpacker stabbings and mass brawls that descend into anarchy in seedy tourist traps, a backpacking adventure is synonymous with calm and peaceful people who just want to experience the same sought of adventures you do.
That said, the thought of backpacking can be overwhelming in itself, let alone hearing unsavoury things on the TV and radio, but on the whole, these are isolated instances. So don't feel hesitant to ask a stranger for help or directions. Stick together by all means, or if you're by yourself be weary, but at the same time don't let the actions of a select few put you off embracing others and fully immersing yourself in a new culture.
10. Don't expect to see everything
First-time travellers, as even the most seasoned of explorers will attest from their own experiences, tend to stick to a regimented plan of action and cram as much as they can into their trip. And though you might see more, or at least think you are, what you're doing is speeding up the process unnecessarily and failing to build up relationships with fellow travellers and locals and most importantly; absorb the culture.
With that in mind, should ou come to a place you love, why not stay there for as long as you want? Unless you're on an infinite voyage, time will always be of the essence, so soak up the good experiences for all their worth! Backpacking is a luxury that not everyone can afford, so make sure you do it right, and you'll be on your way to experiencing a trip like no other.