18 Backpacking Travel Tips to Make Travel Easier (18 Travel Lessons from 2018)
As it is now December, I think this is a good time to reflect back on my last year of backpacking. Looking back, I have put together a blog on 18 backpacking travel tips that will make your travel easier. Also, the fact that it is already December has me a bit like WTF?. Am I the only one wondering where 2018 went?
This year I have been fortunate to travel a ton. I spent the early parts of the year in South America. Traveling in Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. Had a nice pause back home in Canada. Now for the second half of the year I’ve been traveling in Europe. Spending my time in Italy, France, Spain the The United Kingdom. Also, in 2 days, I’ll be embarking on a journey to Singapore. This will be my first time in Asia. I really hope I am good at pooping in those squatter toilets…
So silly jokes aside, here are my 18 backpacking travel tips that will make your travel easier (in no particular order)
1. Have multiple credit cards and ways to access money while traveling
If you are wanting to travel the world, you’re going to need money. Make sure you have multiple credit cards. I would recommend at least 1 Visa and 1 Mastercard. Also make sure to always keep an emergency card and cash separate from your main ones. If your wallet or purse gets stolen or lost, you don’t want to be without funds. This is in my opinion, some of the best travel advice someone can give you.
2. Offline Maps are a must
It’s not even a stretch to say that offline maps can save your life. The last thing you want is to be lost at night, with all your backpacking equipment, in a foreign country. I recommend Maps.me. It’s a free smartphone app for android and apple. You can download maps in advance. That way even if you don’t have wifi or data you can navigate your way while traveling.
3. Bring a travel towel
Are you down to pay 1-5 dollars to rent a towel daily at your hostel? When I see people doing this, it actually makes me sick. But hey, maybe they are not on a backpacking budget. Always bring a towel. I assume like most people you shower. If you aren’t going to drip dry in the nude, you’ll need a towel. There are many “quick dry, micro fiber, travel towels” out there. I have tried 4 different kinds over the years, with varied results. The majority of them start to smell like my hockey equipment after a month…
This is the travel towel I would recommend. It’s cheap, quick dry, and so far after 3 months of use, doesn’t smell like ass.
Pro Backpacking Travel Tip: If you happen to be in Europe. Don’t spend the money on the travel towel above. Head to Decathlon. Decathlon is a low cost sporting and travel goods store in Europe. I freaking love this store. There you will be able to find comparable travel towels for much cheaper than the above. However, if you are in Canada or the USA, the above is probably your best option.
4. Agree on the taxi price before getting in the taxi
I can not stress this enough. Before you get in a Taxi, agree on a price. If they won’t set a price, or you don’t know whats fair, use a taxi metro. If the metro is “broken”, don’t take the cab. As sad as it is, taxi drivers can be notorious for taking advantage of tourists. Always know the rate in advance. However I recommend trying to avoid taxi’s all together. A lot of time you should be able to walk or talk public transportation. Taxi’s are a great way to burn cash while backpacking on a budget.
5. Negotiate Prices
Would you negotiate buying a t-shirt in Canada or the USA? Probably not. But when you travel, you’ll visit many countries where bartering and negotiating is the norm. Don’t be afraid to haggle for a better price. This is quite normal and in most countries it’s expected. Just don’t be an asshole. These people are trying to make a living here.
6. Be flexible with your travel plans
Being flexible with your travel plans is a great way to explore new things and save money. If you are not 100 percent on going to a certain location or a specific time, deals can be found. This can help your travel budget a lot. Being flexible with your travel is especially easy if you are backpacking and traveling alone.
7. Know the visa requirements in the country you are visiting
This sounds self explanatory, but even I have been naive to it. For example, who knew Canadians need a visa to get into Paraguay? Well try to find that stuff out before the border my friends. A quick google search should tell you if you need a visa or not. Also make sure you know if its a visa on arrival, or application prior to. As well as any specifications the visa may require (proof of lodging, departure from the country, vaccinations, financial resources, etc.)
Pro Backpacking Travel Tip: If the visa requires you to show proof of onward destination or departure from the country, but you’re not sure of your plans, use www.expedia.com. With Expedia you can book a flight and cancel within 24 hours, for free. So you will have a proof of leaving, but you can cancel immediately. Just make sure you do cancel within the 24 hours. Also make sure you use .com as other branch off’s of Expedia don’t always offer this. Also make sure it says “Free Cancel w/in 24 hrs” like the picture below.
8. Lock up your belongings
In general, backpackers and travelers alike are chill people. No one is looking to steal anything. However, hostels, especially party hostels will have more than just the backpacker passing through. Make sure to lock up all your valuables. I don’t always lock up my backpack, but always lock up your wallet, passport, laptop, tablet, etc.
9. Ear plugs are a must
If one of these backpacking travel tips rules supreme, this may be it.
Invest in multiple pairs, of high quality earplugs when you travel. If you are staying in a hostel or shared dorm, you will need them. After all the hostels I have stayed in, I am still not used to people snoring. Ear plugs are life while backpacking.
10. Get a hostel that has a kitchen… and a fridge
If you are backpacking on a budget, you are not going to want to eat out every meal. That’s a sure fire way to 1) blow your travel budget and 2) gain some extra travel pounds. Unless you in a very cheap country, you’ll want to cook for yourself from time to time. Make sure the hostel you are staying in has both a kitchen, and a fridge. Don’t assume they will have both. I have stayed in hostels that have just fridges. I have also stayed in ones with just kitchens. Verify in your booking that they have both.
P.S Are you like me and have been blessed by having a life threatening allergy? Check out my old blog on How to travel safely when you have a life threatening allergy.
11. Don’t leave home without a Universal travel adapter
Many countries around the world have different outlets and electrical wattage. Investing in a quality travel adapter is essential. This is something you want to get right. I once had a cheap one that would fall out of the wall in 50 percent of outlets. I would have to literally duct tape it on to stay. That’s not the travel dream my friend.
I would recommend getting a quality universal travel adapter. One with at least 2 USB’s is recommended. That way you can change your phone and even a friends device, while also using the outlet to power your laptop or other devices. This travel adapter here on amazon is personally the best one I’ve come across.
12. Have a digital + printed copy of your passport
Hopefully you never lose your passport. But in the terrible case you do (I’m still blaming you for that Rapunzel) a digital and printed copy is super important. So take a quick scan or photo, print it off and save it to a cloud drive.
13. Embrace local culture and try something new
What’s the point of traveling if you just do the exact same stuff you would back home. Find out what locals do in the country you are in. What are the local dishes, dances, sports, customs. Try out new things that wouldn’t be possible in your home country. Bonus points if you can make friends with locals who show you their country. That is always truly amazing.
14. Unlock your phone for travel
If you are coming from Canada, you are getting taken for a ride with cell phone plans. It’s complete garbage. Therefore, if you are traveling for even more than a week, a local sim plan may be cheaper. This is a great backpacking travel tip that can really help your budget. You can potentially pause or plan back home, or even cancel if you are traveling for long enough. To use local sims, you will need an unlocked phone. Make sure your phone is unlocked and do a little research on phone plans in your destination country. Chances are a local sim is cheaper.
15. Extra plastic bags and toilet paper come in handy
Always carry some extra plastic bags with you and some toilet paper or tissues. If you find yourself stuck in a torrential downpour, pop your phone and wallet in the plastic bags. This will give them at least a chance to stay dry. In terms of the toilet paper, do I really need to explain that one? Just trust me on it.
16. Try to speak the language
Yes, you’re going to sound like an idiot. I sound like an idiot everyday, and sometimes even when speaking English. Try to learn basic phrases like hello, goodbye, please and thank you. You’re not going to nail it, but at least you’re trying. People will appreciate it for the most part. Remember you’re a visitor in their country. If you want tips on how to learn language, check out my blog on passive language learning tips.
17. Make sure you pack light
Backpacking requires a lot of moving around. One of the best backpacking travel tips I can offer is to pack light. Ideally, you have a travel backpack that can fit as a carry on. This will save you money on flights, as well as back and shoulder pain.
18. It’s okay to take a rest day
Traveling can be really, really tiring. Don’t be afraid to just kick it every now and then. You don’t have to do an activity everyday. Take time to relax and don’t burn yourself out. It will make travel more enjoyable in the long run.
What other backpacking travel tips do you follow in your travels?
Did I miss out on some backpacking travel tips that you would recommend? Let me know by commenting about it on Instagram or Facebook on this blog post. I know there’s tons of great travel tips that I didn’t list here!
As always, safe travels!
P.S. Some of the links included are affiliate links that if you do purchase will give me a small commission 🙂