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How to plan your backpacking trip
Posted on 06/08/2018 2 shares

TransportUnited Kingdom

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Carrying everything you need on your back and taking off has never been easier, with or without a data plan.

Although it may seem carefree and off-the-cuff, backpacking takes considerable planning. Making sure you have the right pack, are staying in the right place, and have a plan in case something goes wrong is crucial. If you're country-hopping for the summer, make sure you follow these tips.

Where do you want to go?

Where do you want to go?
Sirichai Puangsuwan/123RF

This may seem like a no-brainer, but figuring out exactly where you want to go and how you want to cover it isn't as easy as it sounds. Just like any trip, you're going to have to plan for distances, but keep in mind that you'll be carrying all your belongings on your back.

If you have a lot of time on your hands, you can decide where you want to start, where you want to end, and pick a few necessary stops in between. But if you don't have months worth of travel time, a spreadsheet is probably in order. Decide how long you want to spend in each city or country, and stick to it.

Once you've decided where you're going, look into what your phone plan allows. If you're travelling somewhere you aren't covered, be sure to download some offline maps for easy navigation.

What should you wear?

What should you wear?
Rattana Rueangha/123RF

Get an idea for the type of terrain you'll be covering and how much walking you'll be doing while carrying your pack. If your trip is focused on urban areas and lots of train or bus travel, a solid pair of running shoes or sneakers will serve you well. If you're planning on doing some serious trekking, it's worth investing in some lightweight hiking boots. If wearing boots, it's good to have one extra pair of packable, comfortable walking shoes for sightseeing and general walking around.

Your clothing choices are obviously limited by space and practicality. If you're in doubt about whether or not to bring something, the answer is probably no. Bring clothes that you'll wear but aren't particularly attached to. You can always dump and replace them as needed. Fabrics that pack and dry easily such as spandex, rayon and polyester will serve you well.

What should you bring?

What should you bring?
Przemyslaw Ceglarek/123RF

No matter your destination, you can never go wrong with a pack of wet wipes and a small bottle of hand sanitizer. If you're flying and don't want to check a bag, stock up on travel-sized bottles. You can either save the ones you've been fortunate enough to get in hotel rooms, or they can easily be purchased from most drug stores. If you use your own containers, you can fill them with your choice of product, rather than having to settle for whatever is on offer at the pharmacy.

What else?

Bring two microfiber towels: one small enough to be used as a washcloth, and one large enough to dry yourself. Cotton towels will do, but microfiber is more absorbent and thinner for easy packing. If you're going full-backpacker, you'll probably be staying in hostels. Most will provide towels, but maybe not washcloths, and you don't want any unpleasant surprises after your luxurious shower.

That's it?

Save money and the environment with a reusable water bottle, and although I've never used them myself, many swear by water purifying tablets. Bring along a few medications such as ibuprofen, Imodium, activated charcoal, and antihistamines. Even if you have an iron constitution, you'll be glad you have them in case of a surprise ailment.

How are you going to carry all that stuff?

How are you going to carry all that stuff?
Sirichai Puangsuwan/123RF

Your pack is the most important aspect of your trip besides footwear. A standard 30 liter backpack plus a small daypack should cover you for most journeys. If your pack is too big, you run the risk of trying to fill it completely, which leads to aches, pains and suffering. 50 liters is the maximum anyone should need, and stay away from anything over 80 liters unless you're doing some serious camping or severe weather travel.

If you're in doubt about whether or not to bring something, the answer is probably no. Bring clothes that you'll wear but aren't particularly attached to. You can always dump and replace them as needed.

How should you pack?

How should you pack?

Make good use of the giant plastic bag full of plastic bags under your sink. Use one for pants, one for shirts, one for sweaters, one for underwear and socks, etc. Don't forget one for dirty clothes. They'll keep you organized, and your clothes will be dry if you get caught in the rain or something spills. Just make sure you save them when you get back to reuse.

You're ready!

Your backpacking trip can be as challenging or as leisurely as you want it to be. It gives you the freedom to see the world on your terms, without the burden of cumbersome luggage and too much stuff you'll never use. This mode of travelling is sure change the way you look at the world, and change your relationship to the things you carry with you.

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