Random budget backpacking FYI’s for you
There is so much you learn when you start backpacking, especially long term budget backpacking.
This backpacking FYI’s post is just a little bit of fun, full of random statements, things I’ve heard, learnt and experienced since I started budget backpacking in 2010. These are random backpacking FYI’s.
Some of these random budget backpacking FYI’s may split opinion, you might agree with some of them, some you will think are ridiculous and others you may think are obvious.
GENERAL BACKPACKING FYI’S
*Research well but plan loosely. (How many times have you heard this?)
*Travel plans change on a whim so be prepared.
*There will be times you will get stuck in one place longer than anticipated. (Sometimes you will not even want to leave)
*There will be times you won’t see half the things you thought you would.
*Pack light but practical.
*Pack enough underwear – Why? Some of your underwear will almost certainly go missing every time you wash your clothes in either a hostel or a launderette.
*Long term budget backpacking is actually hard work and tiring; it’s not always a holiday and can take its toll
*Backpacking can be mentally draining at times.
*Travel books are guides and not travel bibles – You don’t have to follow everything they say.
*Form your own opinion of a place and not what the travel book said.
*Long term budget backpacking is a marathon, not a sprint – You don’t need to see everything straight away. Take your time and enjoy it.
*Some places will just blow you away and stay with you forever. Other places you’ll hate and want to get out of there as quick as you can.
*Be open-minded and receptive to new circumstances – Embrace the new country you’re in.
*long term budget backpacking will rip you out of your comfort zone.
*You will have the highest highs and the lowest lows.
*You will learn more about your own personality and character more than ever before.
*There will be times when you get lost but that’s what makes it an adventure.
*There will also be times you will get lost within yourself – Don’t worry it happens to all of us.
*Sometimes you will question why you’re doing this.
*You can have identity crisis sometimes – Forget the person you were, but ultimately you will grow as a person.
BACKPACKING FYI’S FOR HOSTELS
*Forget what pre-conceptions you may have of hostels – they can become the cornerstone of your travels.
*Don’t expect hotel quality in a hostel.
*Don’t be the snobby guest, not everything is going to be perfect, things break and people make noise.
*Learn about hostel etiquette – You don’t want to be the hostel asshole!
*Hostel WiFi might not be the best – It’s not the end of the world.
*Easiest way to make friends is to be social; play cards, share a beer or a joint.
*Hostel friends can sometimes be clicky, don’t be afraid or intimidated by them.
*Take advantage of free breakfasts – But don’t complain about them if they don’t offer a wide range of choices – It’s free! If you don’t like it buy your own stuff and make your own!
*Hostel staff are usually fellow backpackers too – Be friendly to them.
*Hostels are usually safe but keep your belongings in a safe place.
*Every hostel will have a drug dealer or somebody who will know a drug dealer.
*Cannabis and other drugs are taken in almost all hostels. (Don’t be shocked)
*There are always ways to sneak booze into hostels that say they don’t allow it.
*Know the difference between party hostels and other types of backpacker hostels
*There will almost always be at least one ‘long-termer’ at the hostel – Don’t judge them for why they don’t want to hop and skip to a different place every other day.
*Don’t leave your shampoo in a hostel shower, it will get used.
*Don’t use all the plugs in the dorm at the same time – Charge things one after another not all at the same time – It’s not your room
*Keep your bag close or under your bed in the dorm room – Don’t leave it laying around in the middle of the room. Be considerate of other guests.
*If you’re leaving early in the morning pack your stuff the night before and not before you need to leave
*If other people are sleeping, be respectful of them (doesn’t matter what time it is)
*Don’t steal from fellow backpackers!
BACKPACKING FYI’S WITH OTHER BACKPACKERS
*Fellow backpackers have the potential to become like family.
*You can feel closer to your new friends than your own family.
*Lifelong friendships can be formed from backpacking.
*Most backpackers are there for the same reason but you will meet such a diverse range of characters.
*Be prepared to make new sets of friends on a regular basis.
*You will fall for somebody or a lot, while backpacking.
*You will come across somebody who is exactly the same as you and you will bond instantly.
*Saying goodbyes to backpacking friends you become close to is hard at first but you do get used to it.
*Sometimes backpackers can be very judgmental and quite pretentious.
*Other backpackers don’t want to know your life story straight away.
*Having the same conversations all the time gets tedious (Where you been? Where you going? What’s your route? How long have you traveled for? blah, blah, blah) – Stay away from the backpacker talk
*Backpacking isn’t a competition – Just because you’ve done a certain thing or in a certain way doesn’t make you a better backpacker.
*You don’t have to dress or look a certain way to be a long term backpacker.
BACKPACKING FYI’S FOR RECREATION
*Agree or disagree – Drinking and partying is a huge part of backpacking culture.
*Party Hostels will regularly organize nights out.
*You will party a lot even if you tell yourself beforehand you won’t (personal experience)
*Buying local alcohol is a lot cheaper than exported (Helpful for your budget)
*If you smoke prepared to smoke even more when you’re backpacking.
*A lot of countries cater to backpackers and have backpacker specific areas with cheap bars.
*Reps from bars will always come over to your hostel and entice you for a night out.
*Don’t judge other backpackers who seem to just party all the time. (You might become one of them down the line)
*If you can’t handle your alcohol don’t go too hard on your first night. (Seen it far too many times)
*If you see people smoking weed or taking drugs and you don’t, don’t judge them – You do you and they will do them.
*You will have some of your best night’s out as a backpacker.
*Just one more! – Will lead to a night out until the early hours of the morning.
BACKPACKING FYIS FOR FOOD
*Eating street food will not kill you, It’s actually tastier and more authentic than some restaurants
*Don’t be afraid of trying local delicacies. (Fried Scorpion tastes like burnt chicken wings)
*In some countries eating out is cheaper than cooking for yourself.
*Even though instant noodles will come in handy at times – BUT you don’t need to live off them.
*Saying that there will be times you don’t know where your next meal is coming from.
*If you can’t cook, you will learn to cook cheap and basic food.
*It’s hard to find good bacon in a lot of countries (real bacon and not crappy American streaky bacon)
*Most countries have a variety of cuisine (cheap and expensive)
*Hot dog stands and pizza slices can be lifesavers.
*Spaghetti bolognese will be a staple of your diet.
*Don’t steal other peoples food – If you want to borrow something just ask them!
*Cook in groups makes it cheaper, make friends and more sociable.
*Shopping at local markets and butchers is normally cheaper than supermarkets – Don’t be afraid to explore.
BACKPACKING FYIS FOR TRANSPORT
*When choosing transport – Remember the cheapest option is not always the best. You will want some comfort.
*Renting your own vehicle (car, van, Bike) can be a much better way to see a country.
*Always check transport options don’t just book the first thing you see, read or are told about.
*Check hostel boards and talk to people, as other travelers may be heading to the same place and some will have free spaces in their vehicle.
*Take snacks with you for long haul bus journeys.
*Take overnight buses to save on a nights accommodation – But don’t expect a good night’s sleep.
*Be prepared to freeze to death on some overnight bus journeys take something warm. (air-cons that don’t work in the day will be on full blast through the night)
*Be prepared for bus drivers to blast out local music at 4am, just when you’ve finally been able to fall asleep.
*In some countries police will board bus’s to check Id’s of passengers – Don’t be alarmed (Even if they see your British passport, hear your British accent and think you might be Venezuelan)
*If you’re backpacking solo but don’t feel safe traveling alone – find a group and travel with them.
*Keep your personal and important items close to you, don’t advertise your belongings (I’ve seen it happen)
*Hitchhiking can be daunting but is actually fun.
BACKPACKING FYI’S WITH LOCALS
*Learning basic words of your destinations mother language goes a long way.
*Making friends with locals is well worth the experience. You will learn so much more from them than any guide, book or blog and will generally enrich your experience.
*You never know what relationships will grow from meeting locals – you could make friends for life.
*Try a homestay to get a different type of experience.
*Having local friends, they will show you all the hidden gems that are not advertised about.
*Stay away from dangerous areas – If there are signs at the hostel or local areas saying don’t go there, then do not go – Don’t think you are an exception.
*Haggling is a game – Don’t take it too seriously, don’t get angry at them.
*Be wary of scammers – Learn to become a savvy backpacker.
*Don’t flaunt that you’re a backpacker – you will get targeted.
*Learn to blend in with the locals.
*Respect other countries beliefs and ways of life – You are visiting their country.
*Just because something is a certain way in your country doesn’t mean it has to be that way in another.
*Remember different cultures have different customs, you chose to go there, don’t get upset if you don’t agree with their way of life or how they do certain things.
*Explore local areas, don’t just stick to the tourist strips (just make sure they are safe areas)
*Prices in tourist areas are generally hiked up to the max.
*Don’t fall into the tourist trap.
*If you go off the beaten track and into non-touristy places be careful but have fun.
*Some locals don’t take kindly to tourists so be mindful and don’t act like a douche.
BACKPACKING FYI’S FOR PERSONAL
*Arduous journeys are worth it – what you will see and experience at the end of it will remain with you forever.
*Traveling in all forms is meant to be fun, don’t stress your self out with needless things.
*Take your time, soak in the moment, enjoy the experience, don’t rush to just take pictures or just to say you’ve been there. Who cares about how many countries you’ve been to
*Don’t just be a passport stamp collector, what’s the point in traveling through 100 countries if you’ve not spent enough time there to feel and really experience it?
*You will have times when you question why you’re doing this.
*There will be times when you feel lonely as a solo backpacker.
*However solo backpacking doesn’t mean lonely travel.
*Whatever reason you’re backpacking for – you’re traveling for yourself and not for others.
*If you don’t like a certain place do not be obliged to stay.
*Backpacking will open your eyes in ways you didn’t know about.
*You will see things from a different perspective.
*Long-term budget backpacking is like being in a bubble and there will be times you lose touch with reality.
*You will continue learn something new about yourself all the time.
*Be prepared to have arguments with yourself.
*From personal experience, if you think you’ve left your personal demons at home, you’re wrong – they will follow you and will rear their heads at certain times.
BACKPACKING FYI’S FOR BUDGETS
*Backpacking on tight budgets can be hard but fun at the same time.
*You will learn to manage your money better over time.
*Don’t blow a weeks budget in a couple of days. (Another personal experience)
*Pick and chose what you would rather spend your money on.
*Look for free activities to do, sometimes they turn out much more enriching.
*Remember you are long term backpacking and not on holiday, you shouldn’t spend like you are on holiday.
*Resist spending money on needless things.
*Put your pride to the side and pick up random work to keep you going.
*If needs be work for accommodation – hostels, workaways, woofing.
*Buy simple cheap drinks instead of most fancy and expensive.
*Have days where you’re super tight with your money but also have a day to spoil yourself.
*You don’t need to buy every souvenir you see.
Like I mentioned at the top of this random backpacking FYI’s post, these statements are just things I’ve seen come across, heard, experienced and learnt over the years. I hope these backpacking FYI’s have helped you in some way for your journey.
I’m sure during your backpacking trip there will be some other backpacking FYI’s you may come across, or if you are already backpacker is there any backpacking FYI’s you think I’ve missed at all?
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