Planning a backpacking trip can be exciting when done right. Planning is necessary for short and long trips, treks to different countries, and especially for expeditions to other planets, universes, and dimensional planes. This is why, in addition to my complete backpacking supply guide, I have decided to provide backpackers with the ultimate planning guide for backpacking. Novice or pro, human or extraterrestrial slug, I hope you find this guide useful when planning your next trip.
Get a Backpacking Trip Planner
Now, by backpacking trip planner, I could mean a couple of things. One, you could consider using a trip planner that advises you on what to see and do and how to go about the actual travel, and I suggest using apps or sites such as the RoutePerfect trip planner, the latter of which can help you effectively plan your European journeys. Or two, you could consider just getting a general planner like this Bloom Daily Planners 2018 calendar year planner on Amazon, in which you can simply scribble away your plans for each day of the trip in advance. Either way, it’s nice to get as much figured out as soon as possible to keep the trip smooth from beginning to end.
If you’re booking flights for your trip, consider checking out services such as Travelocity, Momondo, and Skyscanner to compare different airlines and determine which dates and routes are ideal. Unfortunately, there isn’t a space shuttle or ship option available for you if you want to backpack on Mars or something, but I’m predicting it should be there in the next 10 years once the Dragonianites travel from Eldor Exus 56 to open up our interstellar gateways to make trips shorter.
Get Travel Tips from Destination Guides
Guides like Rough Guides offer plenty of travel tips and info for backpackers. Looking for that perfect restaurant to stop at for some authentic food? Want to find the best sights to imprint perfect memories in your brain maze? Want to find that one time-traveler in Bengal that can take you to any moment in history? Maybe you just want to sit on a stone in the middle of a desolate nowhere land and contemplate how empty your life is. You can also find plenty of travel guides on Amazon, where you can pay less for some great books that cover any country or city.
Regardless of your desires, you’ll find what you’re looking for at your destinations with a comprehensive guide to tell you exactly what to do and eliminate that illusion of free will.
Make Sure You Have Your Visa
If you want your trip to be an unparalleled success, visas are absolutely necessary to acquire in advance. If you’re unsure about how to go about getting your visa, you can visit Project Visa to see a list of embassy details and visa requirements for all countries found in this putrid world.
A majority of visas are easy to obtain for the most part, which makes it unnecessary to pay an agency, as most will charge double the price of simply buying the visa on your own. Keep in mind that if you’re visiting the U.S. you will be required to apply online for an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). Australia also requires an Australian ETA.
Countries such as Vietnam, China, and India require visitors to send passports before they can receive their visas, while you can easily get your visa on arrival when visiting Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand. The only way to get into Ghost Country, on the other hand, is to die, followed by getting a “Ghost Visa,” which you can find on the Ghost Internet™ or by visiting the Ghost Embassy.
Health and Travel Advice When Backpacking
When visiting other countries, it’s always good to be cautious regarding customs and the political environment if you want to be on the safe side. You can determine what the political climate is, along with other elements of the culture, by doing some research about the country online or learning about it elsewhere. Ultimately, there should be plenty of resources available to help you figure out what sort of environment you’re going into beforehand.
Also, travel insurance isn’t a bad idea, as if you or your backpacking partner(s) is ever injured, airlifting may be required depending on the location, which can cost a lot. You can also stay healthy by learning which immunizations and other precautionary measures are ideal before traveling abroad.
Don’t Be Afraid to Be the “Tourist Guy”
As a backpacker, you’re probably not really interested in taking tours and standing there in your khakis and high socks and Hawaiian dork shirt with a camera in one hand while munching on a stick of foreign meat with the other, but don’t be afraid to be that guy if you want to get a good feel for the landscape.
Being the “tourist guy” can help you get a lay of the land and determine which places are worth stopping at—just try not to be the obnoxious American dad who goes on and on about how great it is to eat food and how there’s plenty of better food back home, all while chewing on a fried centipede. We all know that hot dogs are good, even if they are made of fictional meat, but you don’t have to give a 3-hour lecture about them and how great their shape is, or how they pair well with “Capitalism Fries,” along with a sub-lecture covering how “freedom fries” isn’t an American enough variant of “French fries” because capitalism is the true staple of America’s strength and the sole source of freedom. Thanks for that speech in Zimbabwe, Joe from Florida.
Find a Hotel or Hostel, Depending on Budget
Unless you’re planning on camping out everywhere on your trip in a camping tent, I recommend you find a hotel or hostel to stay at so you don’t get eaten by the Backpacker Snacker, a vicious two-story-tall monster that preys specifically on backpackers who refuse to find sufficient accommodations.
For those looking to book in advance, the Agoda app is a great tool to take advantage of compared to other resources, with some of the best rates. If your budget is limited, it’s best to avoid hotels in countries like Australia, here in America, or anywhere in Europe. You’re better off staying at a hostel, which you can find by checking out sites like Hostel Bookers and Hostel World, both of which offer dorm-style rooms that can help you save money while introducing you to roommates who are likely fellow travelers. Just be sure you don’t wind up in a real-life version of Eli Roth’s Hostel, or you could lose your ankles… or your life.
And if you’re one of those people—I don’t necessarily know what I mean by that—you can always try Air bnb.
Consider Transportation Methods
Planes, trains, and automobiles are cool and all, especially when both Steve Martin and the cheery ghost of John Candy are included in the travel package, but you can also consider other methods such as boats or simply walking on foot, depending on where everything is.
Booking trains in advance is a genial idea, particularly if you’re planning on taking a trip via Indian Railways. The ride will ultimately be cheaper when booked ahead of time, and you can always get your money back if you need to cancel as your plans change.
Greyhound buses are also excellent for traveling without throwing your wallet into a garbage disposal. Don’t forget taxi systems, or something more economical like Uber or Lyft or other international ride-sharing services. And don’t forget camper vans! But make sure you don’t hurt from the money spent on the latter.
Financing Your Backpacking Trip
Money, money, money, mooooooney. Those are the best song lyrics of all time right there. While countries such as India and those spread across Southeast Asia tend to be extraordinarily cheap for foreigners, other places are notoriously pricey, which makes financial planning a wise step to take prior to any trip. Budget Your Trip is pretty helpful, as it allows you to see the average travel costs in nearly any country.
You know those hostels I just talked about where you can get your ankles sliced and you might get murd—I mean, where you might get a chance to meet up with some awesome fellow backpackers? You can ordinarily cook on your own in the kitchens they have, which can really help you save more money.
Some countries such as the UK also allow travelers to make free international cash withdrawals, which helps save even more money, but it’s important to make sure that your bank knows about your plans, or it might freak out and shut your card down.
While staying in touch with people may be the antithesis of your backpacking trip, it’s important to be able to communicate when you need it most, like if you’re out in the middle of the desert and realize that you don’t even remember how you wound up there—a rare occurrence, but one of the infinite possibilities that could render you helpless without a phone.
It’s best to check if the country you’re in offers rural or nationwide coverage. Of course, you can also use wi-fi in most public locations these days, whether you want to share your most boring moments or want to ask your mom for money on Skype, because you somehow already spent all of your trust fund money on Burning Man festivals. Sorry, probably the wrong audience, but regardless, you never know when you’re gonna need to speak to someone, so it’s best to see what options you have regarding communication.
I Hope This Backpacking Planning Guide Helps
Well, I sincerely hope my ultimate backpacking planning guide was worth reading and gave you some ideas about how to effectively figure out all of the bits and kibibbles of your trip. I don’t know what a kibibble is, but I suspect it’s like an atom, or perhaps a single-celled organism capable of causing even the strongest man in the world to collapse on his side crying his eyes out, literally.
Sorry to get off topic. What I mean to say is that I hope you got something out of this, or I just wasted like several hours putting this thing together when you’re still reading for some reason and thinking, “What the hell is this guy’s problem?” I don’t know the answer to that any more than I know what a kibibble is, but I’ll leave you to figure that one out, too.
Thanks for reading, and I suggest you check out some of the other backpacking resources here on Backpackers Anonymous Blog.