Backpacking is an extremely rewarding way of travelling. To start off, you have the leisure to discover a new place at your preferred pace. Also, the chances of interacting with the locals (whether it is for seeking shelter or asking for directions) and soaking up their culture are better for a backpacker than exploring through a tourist agency. It may be tiresome, no warm bed or fine dining included and it also may prove risky, but the overall experience won’t be regrettable. The sublime sense of freedom in carrying your world on your shoulders through a new destination is definitely worth experiencing! Backpacking requires good planning. So we’ll help you navigate through your first/next trip with these useful tips:
It is great to keep like-minded company when backpacking. If your partner with seasoned backpacker/s, you will learn and enjoy a lot more while on foot. If you do not have any backpacking friends, then try joining a local group or one on Facebook and go for a trip with them. 4-5 people in one group are an ideal, especially when you are headed to more remote locations. Your personal security and well-being is also better when you backpack with another person or a group.
Planning is of the Essence
You need to plan to keep time, distance, nutrition, water, weather, safety etc. in mind. Remember, everything you’ll carry will be on your back most of the time. A good day’s backpacking means a 10-15 kilometre round trip daily. Also think around planned and unplanned Zero Days (days when you can’t travel). However, don’t let the planning draw you into unnecessary panic by thinking about worst case scenarios.
· Destination: Pick out the destination/s and plan how long you’re going to stay there. Do your research about the destination/s, the culture laws etc. and talk to people to get information. Get local maps of the destination/s.
· Purpose: Give a purpose to your trip. Your packing and planning will differ if you are backpacking to touch and go, wander around, photograph etc.
· Packing: Make a checklist of necessities and extras which you plan on carrying. Trial-pack once to be clear about what you’re carrying. Have a comfortable portion of extras in your backpack, just in case. Test-carry your full backpack to see how comfortable you are with it.
Always pack reading material for transit. Keep a pen and notebook.
· Get prepared physically: Get active a few weeks or months before the trip. The trip shouldn’t wear you down every day. Get a physical check-up from a doctor. Carry a few over-the-counter medicines for your journey. Go for a short hike once or walk 5-7 kilometres as daily exercise to be prepared.
It is important to establish a few water-tight communication check points before you leave for your backpacking trip.
· Inform someone about your travel plans: Whether you head out for a 3 day backpacking tour or a month long one, it is important that your plans should be known to someone, in case you need to be reached. Sticking to your itinerary and being organized makes for focussed, fun and safe backpacking.
· Carrying a cellphone: Carry a cellphone with yourself. You can be contacted when needed. Modern smart-phones serve as maps, GPS as well. You may carry a simple cellphone in case you want. Just make sure that you can be reached, if needed.
Nutrition is crucial, especially when your meals are taken on the go, on hte road.
· Water: If you’re on the road more often, try carrying a portable water filter. You can collect water on the go and drink safe water. Else, buy sealed water bottles only. Drink ORS electrolyte solution with water at least twice a day if the weather is hot or if you’re walking a lot. It helps preserve essential salts and provides energy.
· Food: The best option is for you to carry a portable stove and some utensils for proper meals. If you’re sure of your stomach then you can go ahead and dine in the local restaurants or dhabas. Else, carry biscuits, dry fruits, bread and cheese to fuel your backpacking trips.
The main purpose of backpacking trips is exploration. Remember to check-off all these tips before you start-off and just soak in the surroundings on your trip.