Fill your life with adventures, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.
This is what I had written down before I sold everything I own to backpack North, Central, and South America for the next seven months. Booking your first backpacking trip is the most exciting experience one can have and I was no different when it came to planning and over planning my trip. Although I can be a free spirited and go with the flow type of person there are just some things you must know before departing on your trip.
1. Buy your one way ticket
There is only one way to get started and that’s going for it and getting your boarding pass to your first destination, I recommend finding your starting point so you can make a path and hit as many places as possible. (https://www.skyscanner.com/ has the best deals!)
2. Make a bucket list
You and only you know where you want to go
and what type of adventure you want to have.
Don’t get your heart set on one destination so that if it doesn’t happen it won’t ruin your trip. Make a list of places you cant live without seeing and if your are traveling with a group then make it a priority. Although half the fun is discovering new places you didn’t even know existed. I used Pinterest for some inspo, feel free to check out my boards! (https://www.pinterest.com/danielleflynn92/)
3. Get vaccinated
You must go to your doctor and get checked to see what type of medications and vaccinations you may require for your specific destination. I needed about six shots and twelve different medications for my trip and that’s just central and south America. Some vaccinations need about 1-2 months of treatment so plan ahead.
Depending on when you go check to see what you need to pack, I for instance planned on going to central and north America but then last minute decided to go to south America which are completely different climates!!
5. Make copies of all your documents
Basically you scan three copies of your passport, ID, and credit card info and keep it in your backpack for emergencies.
6. Get travelers insurance
You never know when you might need to go to the doctor because you accidentally drank the local water or ate chicken that wasn’t cooked so well so it just keeps you covered for emergencies!
7. Download Maps.me app
It’s free! the app that saved my life. Essentially it’s a GPS map that doesn’t require wifi… amazing I know. (http://maps.me/en/home)
8. Pack accordingly
I’m from California and when I see sun outside it means a gorgeous day among us, well it’s not like that anywhere else! hence the tourism… even though it may say hot in Colombia it’s actually humid, hot and hurricane season so please check every country ahead of time and find out what you will need to bring or else you will just buy a whole new wardrobe which is what I ended up doing!
Pro Tip» Instead of buying random souvenirs get an article of clothing from each country it will be more useful for the duration of your trip and let’s be real who has room for random shit in your already heavy backpack!
9. Go to your local travel store
I went to my local store in Israel where I currently live (In USA I would say REI https://www.rei.com/ or Adventure 16 https://www.adventure16.com/) and told them my plan, found out crazy info that I didn’t even think I needed to know. You may think these people might be trying to sell you something or they work there because they have already done the same trip as you and might actually know a thing or two.
Pro Tip» Most adventure stores have lists of things to get for every country, obviously you won’t need everything but it can be a great guide!
10. Learn the language
You may think everyone in the world must know English but they most definitely do not. Even in the most touristy places they expect you to know the basics just like we do in the states. I thought I could get by with my two years of Spanish classes in high school but I ended up taking a beginners course three weeks into my trip in Guatemala, umm absolutely necessary! (If you are interested I can set you up with my profesora in Antigua, Guatemala)
Obviously be aware of your surroundings, even though I have never felt safer in the countries I have traveled to, I knew where I was going and my instincts kicked in. My experiences changed my life and I now have a new perspective on what the media says and what I have to say!
«There you have it! my top 10 tips to starting your backpacking trip. Please comment and leave any feedback you may have.