Saturday, July 11, 2015

7 travel tips for the new backpacker

I have almost reached my three month mark on the road so I thought I would provide some tips that I have learnt along the way.  These should make your life a lot easier and will allow you to make the most out of your amazing adventures!

1. Buy a digital camera
I'm not telling you to go out and buy an expensive SLR camera, but a simple digital camera will do wonders for your travels. Photographs will form part of your memories and will transport you back to those moments.

Before I left, I was debating whether to just use my phone overseas or whether to buy a digital camera. Luckily a friend convinced me to purchase one and it was the perfect decision. Quality, ease of use and functionality are generally all better than your phone. I still use my phone occasionally but I am stoked that I spent the money and bought the camera.  Tip:  If you buy a camera, ensure it has GPS tagging and WiFi.

2. Load Google maps for the next location before you leave (Android only)
Generally you won't have mobile data on your travels and therefore the only map available to you will be the hostel paper map. Before you leave the hostel to go to the next location, use the WiFi to load Google maps. Once loaded, you will be able to see the map and the awesome thing is the GPS location will update without internet. This tip will come in handy as you will be able to see your location and you won't look like a crazy tourist trying to read a map either way too small or way too big.

3. Go on free walking tours
Almost every new location I arrive in, a walking tour is one of the first things I do. There are a number of benefits:
  • You get your bearings of the area
  • You instantly meet people from the same hostel 
  • You learn some history and get a feel for the culture of the area
  • You know where to come back to and you can ask the guide about things to do, places to eat, and must-have experiences. 
If you are feeling extra adventurous, check out other cheap tours from the hostel such as pub crawls or a traditional dining and show experience.

4. Keep a journal
No matter how memorable an experience is, when you are travelling a number of factors will begin to blur your recollection of each place, moment, and people you encounter. A journal is a perfect way to remember what you have done and any funny or special moment you would like to look back on. 
A journal is also a perfect place to write down your feelings and emotions as you travel. It is guaranteed that you will experience a huge range of emotions as you are travelling and a journal is a way to organise those thoughts. From my experience, if I am being weighed down by a particular thought, as soon as I written it down, it no longer bothers me. 

5. Buy good walking shoes
A good pair of walking shoes is a must-have investment. As a backpacker, you are going to be walking a huge amount and therefore you need some comfortable shoes. Most other backpackers I meet have canvas shoes only and it stops them from doing hiking and a lot of walking. I recommend a waterproof pair designed for general walking but can also go offroad if needed. Be prepared for your shoes to smell very interesting if you are doing the same amount of walking as me!!

6. Don't disregard smaller towns or destinations 
Many people, including myself, begin their travels by visiting the capital cities solely in each country. While this is something that is good to experience, some of my best memories are from smaller destinations that are closer to nature and less touristy. Areas such as the Dolomites in Italy, São Martinho in Portugal and Menaggio at Lake Como in Italy are examples of some of my favourite places. 

7. Planning is something that is necessary
Many backpackers, especially Aussies, love to give up everything and come over to Europe and take each day as it comes. While this is an awesome way to travel, some factors will go much smoother with a little bit of planning. I have found the below tips the hard way, trust me:
  • Take account of travel and arrival times at new destinations. Thinking you can just sleep out the night at the airport is not a valid plan. 
  • If you are buying transport tickets as you go along, it is a must that you book at least a week early. Prices sky-rocket the closer the date gets and you could also miss out on a spot on the bus or plane. 
  • Have you heard of the Schengen area? Are you planning to stay more than 3 months? Here's a must-read link.
  • Did you know there are other, cheaper ways to see the world? Google ''Woofing'' and ''Workaway'' for example.
  • The closer you get to peak season (July, August), the quicker hostels will be booked out.  I am experiencing this problem as we speak.  Try to book in advance as much as possible!

Hopefully this has helped! Feel free to leave any questions in the comments, or email me at

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