Advice for backpackers and independent travellers


Travelling around the world is the adventure of a lifetime for backpackers and independent travellers. Some take time out for their gap year or just after university, while others might be on a career break or making the most of their retirement.Backpacking trips can be a really affordable way to travel. If you are prepared for public transport delays or you don't mind roughing it from time to time, then backpacking might be right up your street.

How to prepare for backpacking trips

  • Use a guide book to plan your trip - Lonely Planet does some great, comprehensive guides. Guide books can be huge tomes but they are really useful for finding good accommodation and eateries. Take one with you if you can carry it comfortably
  • Buy comprehensive travel insurance to cover you for your whole trip - provides Backpacker Travel Insurance policies for trips up to 12 months
  • Work out your budget and stick to it while you are away. Find out ahead of time how much excursions and activities are likely to cost
  • Check that your passport is still valid and that it will remain valid for 6 months at the end of your trip
  • Find out if you will need to apply for any visas before you travel. Never overstay your visa - apply to extend your visa if necessary
  • Apply for a work permit if you are planning on working overseas
  • If you are travelling around the world, buy a round the world flight ticket - it could be cheaper than purchasing separate flights
  • Ask your doctor about vaccinations and antimalarials. Tell them all the countries you plan to visit. Vaccinations can be expensive so make sure you work them into your budget
  • Try to avoid changing money on the black market because you could end up with counterfeit notes
  • Don't take photographs at border crossings
  • E-mail copies of your passport and travel documents to yourself so that you can access them at internet cafes if you lose the originals

What independent travellers should take abroad

  • Invest in a sturdy, comfortable rucksack and walking shoes that have been worn in prior to travel. Walking sandals are comfortable and sometimes waterproof - ideal for hot countries
  • Pack clothes that abide by local laws and customs
  • Don't take too many clothes - they'll take up valuable rucksack space
  • Take a first aid kit and carry it with you in remote areas
  • Take a head torch - they come in handy on dark campsites
  • Keep a diary - it will enable you to document hundreds of things that you might otherwise forget
  • Take a travel towel that is light, compact and dries quickly
  • If you are taking a mobile phone buy a local sim card which could save hundreds of pounds
  • Take insect repellent and a mosquito net if you are planning on doing a lot of camping
  • Take an inflatable travel pillow
  • Iodine or water purifications tablets don't take up much room and they can come in handy
  • Stash photocopies of your passport and travel documents separate to the originals

A lot of planning is involved in backpacking trips and travelling around the world. But once the planning stage is out of the way, you'll have time to concentrate on looking forward to your unforgettable adventure.

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