Backpacking is a really great way to see a lot of one region/continent/country on a smaller budget. I, personally, have backpacked for, at most, a couple of weeks in one trip, but I’ve known people to go for months and months! No matter the amount of time you dedicate to backpacking, you’re sure to have a fantastic adventure. Below are some things that I’ve learned along my adventures that may help you plan yours.
Space out your travels. Nothing is worse than arriving in a brand new city, eager to explore, than having to think about leaving again! The few times that I’ve backpacked, I’ve always wanted to do too much in too short of a time. It’s very easy to look at a map of Europe and say, “Those places are really close together, I have a whole week, let’s go everywhere!” Trust me, I’ve tried it. Pick a few key places that you want to visit, and give yourself a healthy couple of days in each- this way you can truly get a feel for the city you’re visiting, and you may have time for some day trips to smaller towns and cities nearby! Once you get somewhere, you’ll keep finding more and more things to keep yourself occupied, let yourself enjoy them.
Pack light. This probably seems like a big cliché as far as travel advice goes, but it could not be more true. I am a chronic over-packer, so I really understand the difficulties here, but trust me, you won’t use it and you don’t need it. When I was traveling for about three weeks out of a single backpack, I made sure to book a hostel in every couple of cities that had laundry facilities. You may even consider bringing a small package of powder laundry detergent to make doing laundry a bit cheaper. Also remember you airline liquid limitations- It’s typically 3 oz. or 100 ml. depending on which continent you’re in, and they’re strict about it! Pack your liquids in a clear zip-lock bag that’s able to close all the way, it’ll save you a lot of hassle at the airport.
Stress free travel. One of the best things about backpacking is the ability to be stress-free about how you travel! For some travelers, that means planning your next city from wherever you are currently. For me, it usually means booking all of my stops ahead of time, but not stressing too much over the details. I personally like knowing that I’ll have a place to sleep the first night I arrive in a city, so I plan all of my accommodation and transportation ahead of time, but very little else. Once I arrive in a new place, I talk to the hostel employees or locals that I’m staying with to get their recommendations. I also make sure that the first thing I do is a free walking tour of the city, or at the very least wandering around for a few hours to see what I might want to return to see later. This way you get a feel for the city, and you can see the “sights” in your own time!
Be friendly. Meeting new people from all over the world is one of the best parts about backpacking! Be sure to arrive to your accommodation with an open mind, being as friendly as possible. You never know who you’re going to meet, and having connections from all different countries and cities can be very helpful later in your travels, not to mention the fun you’ll have while you’re in that city! I’ve met people in hostels who were living full time in cities I planned to visit later, and it was great to catch up with them in their own cities to get their recommendations on things to do and see.