Hints and tips for backpacking

For a number of years now I have been galavanting round europe with a backpack, visiting all sorts of places. And have learnt alot, mostly the hardway. This year however, while travelling round europe by interrail, I was getting infuriated with some of the things some other backpackers were doing. And so thought I would assemble this page to list a sort of top 10 hints, tips, and advice for your trip, so here goes.

Top ten Backpacking hints and tips

  1. Keep your passport with you at all times.
  2. Keep your passport with you at all times. - Its amazing when you think about the number of travellers who lose their passports, have them stolen from their room, or just innocently lose them. Yet, without a passport, you are quite screwed for getting home, and have to go talk to your local embassy. Therefore, I recommend you always keep your passport on you at all times. Personally I have a money belt thing which is round my waist at all times, sleep, shower, always. Call me paranoid, but hey, its not worth the risk. There are anumber of companies making said waterproof belts, mine came from BCB survival and is very good. I have even used it under my wetsuit while diving.
  3. Beware of the kit grenade. - I see it time and time again, you wander into a youth hostel, or tent, and find that someone has pulled their pack apart looking for something distributing the contents all over the place. This will cause only one thing, you will lose something. Its a hard habbit to get out of, and even now I throw the occasional kit grenade, but its a habbit to get out of.
  4. Pack your bag properly - When packed your bag should be balanced, and more importantly, the things you need first should be on top. So, if you are camping, top item is tent, then sleep matt, then sleep bag etc... Things you need constantly go in side pouches, or if you use it, Webbing. Inside your pack, pack things where you can into smaller stuff sacks. Yes the ultralight crowd will glare at you, but it really neatens things up alot and makes finding stuff easier. I have fixed a small loop of paracord on the inside of my pack, and tend to clip items onto that, so even if I pull things out of my pack, they still stay attached to it and don't roll off to hide from you.
  5. Always carry water with you - When travelling I always drink water from bottled sources, or stick a puritab in it. Clean water is necessary for survival, and you cannot always guarantee where your next gonna get some, so carry it with you. Just a simple 500ml bottle in your day pack can be enough.
  6. Know where you packed what - You're laying in bed in a hostel somewhere, and a semi drunk traveller comes in, plonks down and then starts hunting their pajamas or something in their bag. They then throw a kit grenade emptying all their kit out, and somehow, manage to do so in the noisest way possible. So, know where what you need is going to be in your pack, so you don't need to wake everyone up trying to find it.
  7. Have a torch easily accessable - Keep a torch handy, if you think its bad enough the noise they make hunting in the bag, wait till they turn the dorm light on cos they can't find it. Wakes everyone up. Keeping a small torch in your pocket, on your belt, top pocket of your pack, where ever, helps. Especially in these days of ultrasmall LED lights, there is no excuse.
  8. Keep money for a trolley - In europe, try and have with you, one euro coin, two euro coin, on pound coin, 2 swiss frank coin, and 1 franc coin. Don't spend them. Keep them in the pouch with your passport, for when you get to a station and want to stick your pack on a trolley. Its horrible when at the end of a long tiring journey, you can see the trolley but have no money to actually stick in it to save you carrying the thing the length of the platform. In the us, carry a quarter for the same purpose.
  9. Pack your dirty underwear on top of your bag. - Never underestimate the theif repelant properties of your dirty underwear. Stick it in a plastic bag as the very first thing in you pack. It takes a special kind of theif to continue on past that.
  10. Keep some change handy for a pee - Much like the usefulness of a few small coins so you can get a trolley in the station, its very useful also to have some small change for the toilet. Particully in europe, and increasingly in the UK too, toilets charge a fee for use. Usually its a few cents, so just a few small bits of shrapnel can really help at that really pressing moment.
  11. Organise your currency - When you are travelling chances are you end up with multipul currencies on your person, typically a minimium of your home currency plus local. This can continue on to include a good number on long multi country trips. And so it can get very confusing which coins work where. Personally I work on the basis of keeping each currency in a seperate pocket. Local Currency is in my right hand pocket, home currency is left hand pocket. Other Currencies get "archived" into a zip lock bag in my money belt. This all helps to avoid that embarrassing holding strange coins and notes upto the light in bars or shops to work out which crountry its for and whether you can use it to pay for your beer.
  12. Carry a padlock - A lot of hostels provide locker space next to the bed but you need to provide a lock yourself. Its upto you what kind of padlock, combination or keyed. But a combination lock you don't have to worry about losing the key, perhaps at the loss of some security. Even if you do this. See Rule 1.
  13. Enjoy yourself! - This is supposed to be fun. If you are roughing it, you are doing it wrong. Any fool can be uncomfortable. With a small amount of fore thought, planning, and common sense, you can have many a safe, enjoyable trip. So, smile! Your pack really isn't that heavy :p

About this Document

This page last modified Saturday, 11-Sep-2010 22:39:22 CEST.