The DO’s and DONT’s of Backpacking

DO be prepared for your plans to change, and then change again. You’ll have a better time if you’re flexible with your travels.

DONT stay in major cities on Friday and Saturday nights. The cost to stay in any hostel will always be more expensive on the weekend, but the price is significantly higher in major cities. Opt to stay in smaller cities on those nights to save some money instead.

DO schedule smaller towns as “rest stops” in between the bigger cities. Constant travelling, walking around everywhere, and being mentally aware can drain you really fast, and you will eventually need time to recharge.

DO ask yourself WHY you’re going where you’re going. Are you going somewhere to simply check it off your list of cliche destinations to see, or do you actually have a genuine interest in visiting that particular place?

DONT try to do too much. It will be impossible to see/do everything in one trip, and you’ll burn yourself out if you try.

DO try to sample the local food at least once. What’s the point of travelling all the way to Spain if you’re just going to eat burgers and pizza the whole time? (But definitely get pizza in Italy).

DONT overpack. Carrying around a heavy backpack all day is no fun. You’ll regret it. I promise.

DO email home information about where you are. I know I personally felt safer when my loved ones at home knew what city I was in and what hostel I would be staying at.

DONT flash around your money, passport, and electronics in public areas. You’ll make yourself an easy target for thieves.

DO try to interact with the locals and meet fellow travellers on the road.

DONT get so caught up in the details that you forget to see the bigger picture.

DO un-plug from technology. Bring either a smartphone or a tablet and leave everything else at home. DONT spend hours on the internet, and DO get out there and explore.

DONT spend your money on material items, but DO spend them on experiences.

DO practice common sense when it comes to your safety.

DONT stress about your troubles back at home. Enjoy the experience while it’s happening.

DO let yourself indulge while abroad. Definitely DONT skip that extra scoop of Italian gelato, you’ll miss it when you’re gone.

DONT worry about being lonely if you’re travelling solo. You will have plenty of opportunities to meet new friends along the way.

DO research your accommodations and tours before you book them. Read the reviews online to avoid  potential disappointment.

DONT spend your whole trip partying. Going out is fun, but you’ll miss out on a lot during the day if you can’t function.

DO take lots of photos and keep a travel journal. It’s amazing how many things you can forget, so it helps to write everything down. You want to remember those memories!

Emma (right) and I (left) with some locals we met in Abergavenny, Wales, while backpacking through Europe in 2011.

Emma (right) and I (left) with some locals we met in Abergavenny, Wales, while backpacking through Europe in 2011.

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