A while ago on our Backpacker Travel Facebook page we asked you what you wanted more of. The overwhelming response was for more backpacking tips and pictures worldwide.
Each year thousands of travel lovers, like you, decide to backpack our way through various countries in search of excitement, adventure, and freedom. Twenty to thirty years ago, backpackers were predominantly white, middle-class young people, though this has now changed considerably.
Here’s our list of ways that you can backpack more sensibly, safely, and responsibly – to find a balance between having fun, returning home safely, and positively contributing to local communities so you have a better all-around backpacking experience.
If you’re backpacking with a group of your friends, take it in turns to be a designated “responsible” one, so when you’re out drinking in an unfamiliar place, someone is always on the lookout for trouble and makes sure everyone gets back to the hostel safely.
The best advice we can give is to use your common sense, but also make sure you don’t listen to all the horror stories you hear or you will never leave your hostel room.
Here are a few basic points of advice from the Foreign Office:
So easy to do in this day and age as most places have internet cafes or offer WiFi. Worst case, use a telephone.
You may think it’s hard to get away from the tourist trail if you're basing your trip on Lonely Plant or any of the other guide books but being prepared can help prevent you from getting in trouble. They can be vital for providing maps when you first get into cities, allowing you to be prepared before you arrive and aware of scams and no-go areas.
Seems pretty obvious, but especially true in South American cities apparently.
If you don’t have valuable possessions to worry about you’ll be able to relax and have a much better time.
Obviously don’t carry all your cash with you, we used a Nationwide Debit card as they're one of the few who don’t charge you for transactions abroad. We found traveler's cheques increasingly useless though they were of use in some of the more remote areas.
Do make sure you have some money though, if someone does try and mug you they may get pissed off if you have nothing to give them. We also suggest you carry a “dummy wallet” with small change and any additional kept in a money belt. There’s nothing more obvious than going to pay for a snack in a market and then sticking your hands down your pants flicking through wads of cash.
No one likes to lose possessions but it is important to remember these are only material things, nothing in your bag is worth risking your life for. Get insurance then it won't matter!
If someone asks simply play the dumb tourist card and say you can't remember!
By simply following these basic principles, you are already one step ahead of most travelers out there and well on your way to a worry-free journey.
For even more in-depth tips, check out our Backpacker 101 Guides.