Calling all first-time backpackers, are you a little anxious/nervous/excited about your trip? I always find that being more prepared for something helps me keep those nerves away. Today, I’ve written my 5 top tips for your first backpacking trip. These are things that I was told before I went and also things I learnt along the way, so I wanted to pass on the wisdom…
Keep a diary and memorabilia
When we headed to South America and Canada, I took 2 diaries with me; one for each part of our trip. I tried to update this daily, although occasionally I’d have to bulk write a few days if I forgot. I wrote down everything – from the incredible stuff to the not so fun parts. I wanted to have a forever keepsake that I can hopefully show my kids one day.
Talking about forever keepsakes, I kept entry tickets, flyers, maps and pamphlets throughout the trip. I kept these safe in a pocket that I was using only for storing my memorabilia. I am beyond thrilled that I did this because I had so much fun looking through them recently when I unpacked. I’ve got a big photo album where I’m going to print out all my favourite travelling pictures and now I can put in all the different things I collected along to way, too.
Don’t stress if things don’t go to plan
I don’t like to be negative, but it’d be silly for me not to touch upon this for first-time backpackers. Things go wrong, things don’t go to plan; that’s life. It took me a little while to get used to this as I’m naturally pretty organised and high maintenance, so at first I would get super stressed (I swear I’ve knocked off a good few years of my life with some of my backpacking stresses!), but that’s the way it goes sometimes and that’s ok, backpacking can be tough occasionally.
Stay calm, deep breath. As long as you’re safe, it doesn’t matter if you missed the bus or if you left your eye mask at the last hostel – yes, both experiences happened to me and no, they don’t sound like big deals but at the time I was equally upset about both. When you’re away from home and your comforts, things going wrong will seem a much bigger deal. You’ve got this though!
Plan a little
One thing I learnt while travelling is, do not compare yourself to other travellers! There are so many different types of backpackers out there; complete nomads who started travelling 10 years ago, travellers who have planned their exact route down to a T and solo backpackers who are travelling a different route than planned because they met a great bunch to stick around with for a while.
As a first time backpacker, something that kept me from feeling worried or anxious was knowing where we were heading. It obviously isn’t set in stone and I don’t recommend booking too far in advance in case your plans change, but having a loose plan and idea of where you’ll be and when will keep those nerves at bay.
Packing that bag
The first time I packed everything I just HAD to take, I couldn’t even pick it up. With a little encouragement, I let go of things I’m now glad I didn’t take with me because I absolutely wouldn’t have used them. Do some research before you start packing, there are tonnes of amazing stuff out there made just for you! I found packing lists super helpful, like this one, to help guide me.
In terms of actually packing, I read that putting lighter items at the bottom and top, with the heavy stuff in the middle was the way to go. I found that pretty comfy so give it a go. Make sure that your backpack is properly adjusted to you is a must – sometimes you’ll be carrying that baby for a loooong time, it’s important it doesn’t cause any strain.
Take every picture
This comes without saying in this day and age; take a million billion pictures. Even if you don’t think the picture will come out that nice or if you haven’t got the nicest camera, take the picture! My absolute favourite thing is looking back on these and sharing them on my Instagram. The more natural the better I think.
There you have it, my 5 top tips for first-time backpackers. I’m so excited for you that you’re about to embark on such an adventure; it’s a brave thing to do, so give yourself some credit. You can do it. Go make some memories!
If you have any questions, pop them in the comment section below or feel free to comment on my Instagram x