…Planes, Trains, Boats, Hostels.
…staying organized during a backpacking trip can save you money but more importantly, it could save your sanity.
If you do this part correctly you can cut off hundreds of dollars in your travel budget.
You will want to set up alerts for the flight and the dates you want. There are lots of apps that will do the dirty work for you. I just like to use the google service that tracks flights. It will send you an email when your flight goes up or down.
Booking six weeks in advance is the rule when it comes to getting the best price.
Scan for morning deals. Do this while you have your morning coffee everyday.
Usually Tuesday is the best day to book a flight and Wednesday is the cheapest day to book your departure.
Flying early in the morning and having multiple layovers can be another great way to get a good deal on a flight.
Always cross reference your alerts with the actual airline sites to make sure there is no commission fees built into the alert app that you’ve been using. These apps are offering you a service and need a profitable business model so keep that in mind.
Maximize your money
If you are traveling to a country with a different currency rate you should start watching it and planning as soon as you can. Buying cash at optimal times before your trip can save you lots of money.
Make sure you become familiar with cash accessibility in the country you are traveling to and also legality regarding how much cash you are allowed to travel with. Some countries will let you exchange cash there but you are very likely going to get a worse rate than if you did it here. You don’t want to get tied up in customs and paying taxes and fees on money because you came to the airport unprepared.
Credit cards are another way to maximize your money. I have a travel visa and I make all my purchases throughout the year on this card. I have booked entire vacations using the points generated from my everyday purchases so always be looking for a way to make your money work for you.
As always keep your investments generating income for you while you are away. Nothing better than laying on the beach and making passive income.
If you aren’t researching your trip before you go then you shouldn’t be going on a trip. You should know about all the common scams. You should know about dietary restrictions. Understanding the culture. Health concerns, and everything in between.
Where will you sleep?
What will you eat?
How will you get around?
How will you pay for it?
Is it safe?
You need to ask yourself these questions and then research the answers. Nothing worse than booking an awesome hiking adventure and realizing your AirBnb is three hours away and there is no bus to take you. You can kiss your deposits and experience goodbye.
Some countries have different health concerns. Its important that you research what shots or medications you will need before you travel.
Some of these vaccinations aren’t covered by your medical plans and can be expensive. I suggest that you get a flu shot every year they are usually free and will protect your from lots of different strains on influenza that might appear abroad. Also make sure that you are up to date on all the vaccinations that you need in your home province/state. I was really surprised when I was planning my South East Asia trip how many of the vaccinations I didn’t have that I needed. I assumed we got everything we needed in school but this wasn’t the case, before I could leave the province I needed like six needles.
Malaria and other diseases such as yellow fever are a big concern in a lot of countries and its important to protect yourself. Some of these vaccines have side effects. For me I ended up with really scary night terrors from a medication that I was taking to prevent malaria and it made the little sleep I was getting not very restful. Making me miserable.
Basically if you go away to a completely new culture and climate assume that you will get a stomach ache. This is pretty common as sanitary rules in food preparation vary in different countries. It can definitely be a bummer (pun intended) but stay hydrated, wash your hands, use common sense, and monitor your condition.
Buying things ahead of time
Some things are cheaper in your home country then they are abroad. Some things work better and are of a more desired quality if they are bought at home. For me sunscreen was a huge one. Buying sunscreen in Asia was a money grab. They knew tourists would need it and they marked the price to ridiculous numbers (some of our accomidations charged us less than a bottle of sunscreen) After spending a small fortune on some sunscreen it turned out to not even work and I got a horrific sunburn!
Remember, mostly everything you could ever need is available where you are going so don’t feel like you need to bring everything. However if there is an absolutely necessary item you use at home that you need to bring with you there, get it here just to be safe. Be wary of what you bring in your carry on. I lost a tube of precious sunscreen at the airport and was very disappointed by this. Research what you are allowed to bring in the carry on and stick to the rules. They will take a product from you if its even 1 oz over the allowed amount.
Pack three times less than you think you will need. Yes I’m serious. Go through everything you think you need and eliminate half of it, then do this again. I cut what I was bringing down so many times and STILL ended up with more than I needed. You will be shocked how many places offer laundry service for dirt cheap.
You will also find cheap, unique pieces of clothing while traveling. Make sure you have enough clothes for a week and just wash your stuff or buy something new. Carrying around everything you own can be a tough, heavy burden. Here is a list of what you will need on a backpacking trip. Good shoes being number one!
Work and Life
Make sure you have your work and life situation figured out at home. This can look like a lot of things to different people. Weather you are taking three paid weeks off work or if you are quitting your job to travel for a year, make sure you leave on good terms, and are always working on making the best return. Make the most out of your situation, so rent your home while you are away, work an online job, keep your investments going or just keep your resume updated. Integrating back into the world when you get back from a trip can be jarring so do yourself a favor and be prepared.
Passports and credit cards as well as any visa documentation you have should be photocopied and carried separately from your main bag. As well as you should scan all these documents and email them to yourself so you can access them via the internet if you are having any difficulties.
A friend of mine had her bag stolen while in Asia and lost everything she needed for well… anything. She was caught up for weeks trying to sort it out and it cost her alot of money she didn’t plan on spending so lets just say it was a total detractor for her and her experience.
Save yourself the hassle and have digital copies. Take a picture of your documents and email them to yourself, let your travel companion carry photo copies of your documents. Think ahead and plan.
Your travel companion can make or break your trip.
Travel with someone who has similar values. If you aren’t a person who wants to get black out drunk everyday of your trip but your travel companion is, well you guys aren’t going to have a fun time. While they are hungover and sleeping you’ll be missing your daily outings, you’ll become resentful and disappointed.
Make sure the person you are traveling with has a similar budget idea as you do. If you want to go shopping but they cant afford anything other than food well, this person doesn’t really match up with your travel aspirations. Getting along well is absolutely key, can you stand this person for 12 hours on a plane? Or three days in the jungle?
Choose wisely, and be confident enough to travel alone. Having a travel partner that you don’t vibe with can ruin your trip real quick. Having a good travel partner can create an unbreakable bond with a lifetime of memories so be picky.
This is pretty simple, don’t be a dick.
Do not travel to a country that you know nothing about and impose your culture on the experience. Traveling is about growing your perspective, its about learning and being outside of your box.
Learn what is considered rude and don’t do it. Accept that some things you see or hear might not line up with what you deem normal and be okay with this that. Learn what the table etiquette is as well as tipping culture. Learn how to greet people and say thank you in their language. Respect the place you are visiting, don’t litter, don’t be wasteful and be grateful. Some of the most beautiful beached in the world are absolutely destroyed because of inconsiderate tourists. Don’t be a jerk.
Having bad weather on a trip can be a very unfortunate reality. Learn about the seasons of where you are traveling, do research on the best time of year to go there.
Weather can make or break your trip. Try to avoid the busiest tourist seasons but not by much the busy times are usually the nicest weather. A lot of tropical destinations have long and intense rainy seasons. Weather conditions can also be detrimental to your safety, be diligent and informed.
You will need to pack appropriately for your destinations climate. Read up on other peoples experiences. Be prepared but roll with the punches. When I was in Indonesia, a volcano erupted and had flights grounded for weeks it was rainy and miserable, the volcano basically created a bad weather pattern as it spewed debris and smoke into the atmosphere. There is no amount of planning that can prepare you for something like that so make the best out of it.
Being prepared for a backpacking trip can help you make the best out of your experience. These are just some basic guidelines to consider. More about my travel hacks here.