I have traveled around the usual backpacking spots and I have picked up a few tips and tricks along the way. I thought I’d share what I have learned along the way. These are five of my top tips for long haul trips, which I have found have helped me when traveling.
1. Have a Hostel booked before you arrive at a destination.
I like reading reviews and going to the best hostel at a reasonable price and booking in advance allowed me to do that. I also couldn’t think of anything I would rather do less than getting off a bus/train/airplane/boat and then looking for a place to stay while hauling my backpack around especially in the heat. I have traveled with people who hadn’t booked a place to stay and would just wander around until they found somewhere. I just think even if you are the most spontaneous person, you could still book a hostel before you leave your last destination even if it’s just a few hours before hand. So do yourself a favor and plan in advance for hostels. Hostel World has an app and it is honestly the handiest thing ever when traveling.
2. Plan, but don’t over plan
A mistake we learned early on! We arrived in Thailand with a two-week plan until we planned on flying to Vietnam. We had planned to stay in Bangkok for a few days and then take the night train up to Chiang Mai and stay there for 7 nights(we had the hostel booked prior to leaving Ireland). We loved Chaing Mai so staying that long wasn’t an issue but I would have loved to have explored more of the North of Thailand (a perfect reason to go back though!). After that, we didn’t book more than two or three days ahead of ourselves. To give us leeway incase we wanted to stay longer or change the route.
3. Get a Sim
if you are planning an extended stay in a country then I couldn’t recommend getting a sim more. I got a sim in both Thailand and Vietnam. It was $10 for a two-week sim in Thailand and $17 for a month in Vietnam. It is so handy having data on the go, for google maps and Uber. We would have gotten so lost in cities if I didn’t have any data. It also comes in so handy when looking up restaurants, museum times and booking hostels on the go.
If you are backpacking Europe the EU have a law for roaming which means charges have ended and anyone with a sim from an EU country can have data just like they do at home with no extra cost. So that means if you buy a sim in one county it will work in all EU countries just the same. I’ve used my Irish sim in Denmark, Germany, and Spain over the summer and it has all worked perfectly at no extra monthly charge!
4. Backpack over suitcase
This might be an obvious one for most people, but it was something I was considering before leaving. I backpacked around Europe before going to Asia and it killed my back. I do think that it might have been just as handy with a suitcase around Europe. That is until I remember a hostel we stayed in, in Krakow which had five flights of stairs and no elevator. The backpack definitely came in handy then! I am so glad though that I sided against the suitcase for Asia. It is so much easier to have a backpack when you are on the move, especially for the places we went. My backpack also opened just like a case so it was easy to take things out of, rather than the typical backpack where you have to take everything out just to get something out of the bottom! I also saw some people with backpacks with wheels which would have been so handy. Definitely looking into one of them before I take another trip. But 100% take a backpack.
5. You don’t have to spend a fortune on activities
When you are traveling for a long time chances are you have a daily budget that you don’t want to exceed. You may have money set aside for doing activities that cost more and that you really want to do. For example, we went to an Elephant sanctuary and played with elephants for a day and took some local cooking courses but we didn’t spend a fortune on doing anything else. Some of the best days I had traveling I didn’t exceed my budget. Wandering through markets, temples, and biking through towns and villages can be the most amazing experiences. You don’t need to pay $30/40 to go to some attraction that everyone does. On the topic of budget, I would recommend choosing the street food over restaurants. It was always great and most of the time it only cost 50c-$2., I mean you just can’t go wrong.