Why Do People Travel?
There’s lots of reasons why people travel. Some people travel for relaxation, some for business, some to visit family and friends.
But the most common reason for traveling is probably to experience a different culture in a foreign country that is far removed from what you’re used to at home. You see, at home you are stuck in a little bubble–you commute the same route to work or school and see the same sights and people. There’s really not too much straying from this routine.
On the other hand, when you do something like backpacking in India or Southeast Asia, you’re going to experience a whole different world that you didn’t realize was out there. It’s quite humbling.
Now you don’t have to fly halfway around the world to have this profound travel experience. We are from the Northeast US, and even if we travel down to the southern states, we would experience a different culture, see different sights, and break up the monotony of our daily routines.
Oh, The People You Meet
Half the fun of travel is the people you meet along the way. It’s not necessarily the destinations or the sights that you see. Don’t get me wrong, the sights are fantastic and totally worth it. But the relationships that you build with the people you meet along the way are just as important as the destination.
When backpacking, hostels are a great way to meet likeminded people. Not only are hostels a cheap lodging option, but hostels are a great place to make new friends from all over the world.
Hostels aren’t for everyone. There is very little privacy with hostels and some hostels can be dirty. But if you can put that aside, hostels are perfect for backpackers.
Preparing for the “What Ifs” When Backpacking
A lot can go wrong when backpacking. Your flight can be delayed. You can loose your bags. God forbid, you can break an arm or get into a car accident.
Not to worry though, there is travel insurance available for just these type of situations. I use World Nomads when I travel overseas. Although I never had to file a claim, my experience with customer service has been great. Signing up for travel insurance is always simple and can be done in a matter of minutes.
Ultimately, you can get away without travel insurance, but for some peace of mind, travel insurance will cover you.
The Costs of Backpacking
There are 3 main costs to backpacking: transportation, lodging, and food. Of these, transportation is probably going to be the most expensive. If you think about it, transportation includes flights, busses, trains, Ubers, and any other means of transportation to get you from point A to point B.
Lodging is usually the second most expensive cost of backpacking, depending on if you are staying in hostels of not. When staying in budget accommodation such as hostels, you can save a ton of move versus booking hotels and Airbnbs.
Finally, food. To stay healthy and energized on the road, it’s a good idea to eat 3 meals a day. Now you can eat out at cafes and restaurants everyday and you’ll quickly realize that it becomes quite expensive. A budget friendly option is to grocery shop and prepare some of your meals in your hostel. Many hostels have kitchens equipped with everything you need to cook a meal. This is a great option for saving a ton of money when backpacking.
Avoid Hostelworld Fees
Tony’s biggest recommendation for booking hostels is to always book hostels directly on their website or in person upon arrival. This is as opposed to booking on a 3rd party hostel search engine such as Hostelworld.
In general, prices on Hostelworld tend to be 10% to 25% more expensive than prices when you book direct on a hostel’s website. Tony wrote an in-depth blog post about this topic with a case study proving the price differences.
That being said, it’s okay to use Hostelworld to find your hostel. They have great ratings and reviews. But when it comes time to book, take an extra minute to book your hostel through the hostel’s website and save yourself some money.
Planning vs Not Planning Your Trip
There are two types of backpackers: those who plan and those who do not plan. Tony does not plan out his trip itinerary. In general, he has an idea of the places he’d like to visit before departing. He will book his hostels a few days before staying and even more frequently book them upon arrival.
On the other hand, there are meticulous planners. Some backpackers like to purchase all transportation and lodging before departing. Planning your backpacking trip ahead of time can lead to less stress on the road and potential savings. The tradeoff here is that you have little to no flexibility. In other words, if you want to stay a couple extra days in a city that you love, you either can’t because you had already bought your transportation to your next destination, or you will have to cancel your transportation and potentially lose out on the cost of the ticket.
As you can see there are pros and cons to planning vs not planning your backpacking trip. If you want a vagabonding type experience, I recommend to plan as little as possible. However, if you think you’d be stressed out not knowing where you’re going to sleep tomorrow, you should probably plan out your trip before leaving.
3 Things You Wouldn’t Think to Pack for a Backpacking Trip
Tony discusses this topic in one of his daily vlog which you can watch below, but here are three things you wouldn’t think to pack for a backpacking trip.
- Reusable plastic fork and spoon: Useful for those times when you have a long haul bus or train trip and the grocery store doesn’t have utensils for the taking
- Compact power strip: Especially overseas where there are different outlets and you need a travel adapter, a portable power strip comes in handy when plugging in multiple electronics
- Ziplock bags: Great for storing leftover food or compacting grocery store food into more manageable containers
In addition, here are 4 bonus items that every backpacker must pack.
- Hand sanitizer: Stay healthy on the road with hand sanitizer
- Combination lock: Most hostels have lockers, but you must bring your own lock
- Eye mask: Some people will turn on the lights in hostels while your sleeping, so having an eye mask will help prevent this disturbance from waking you
- Ear plugs: Noises are less likely to bother you in a hostel when you sleep with ear plugs
If you have any questions before you go on your first backpacking trip, please don’t hesitate to drop a comment below. We would love to help you out and point you in the right direction.