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Backpacking 101
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So, you want to spread your wings and chase after your wanderlust? Thinking about backpacking across Europe? Or maybe South America? Maybe you’re going everywhere!

But how do you start? How do other people do it? How much planning is involved? Is it for me???

Today I am joined by a fellow travel girl and friend, Scarlett. She is a fellow Winnipegger, a travel enthusiast and has been way more countries than I have! Jealous? Maybe… One of my favorite memories is when we met up in Edinburgh, Scotland one evening and went on a Ghost Tour. We both happened to be backpacking through the UK at the time, and our paths crossed.

Together, we will share the basics of what Backing packing is, what it entails, some tips, and how you can make it your own kind of travel journey. Let’s begin!

WHAT IS BACKPACKING?

In the simplest of terms, backpacking is just travelling about with only the contents in your backpack and the clothes on your back; maybe with a purse on the side. Backpacking can last a few weeks, to months or even years.

There is a sense of budget travel related to backpacking. This means that a backpacker will typically be using airbnb and hostels, rather than hotels and resorts.

What you pack for a two week-long backpacking trip is essentially what you will need for a month-long backpacking trip. You just will be re-using much of it. And whatever you pack for a month long trip is essentially what you will use for a 6-month trip. Let’s face it, backpacking is about the R’s like we learned in school. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle! Ok, maybe not so much the third R, but the first two for sure! There are all kinds of tips and tricks to how to pack as much as you can, the essentials, and also many list ideas here on my Pinterest board, if you want to take a look.

HOW MUCH DO YOU PLAN?

Elizabeth:

This all depends on the traveller. I am the kind of traveller who only gets to backpack for a week or so, this means that I have a time limit, so naturally I plan out my entire trip. I would love to be one of those travellers who go wherever the wind takes them, but I feel you need the luxury of time, which as teacher now, is not really possible except in the summer. That being said, I have found a bit of a balance. While I plan my accommodation and flights, I try not to plan much of what happens once I arrive. I may have some ideas in my head, but in a recent trip to Greece, I didn’t plan a darn thing. It was fantastic.

Scarlett:

I recommend on thinking ahead, not planning ahead. Picture this: you arrive in Lisbon, Portugal. Beautiful, inexpensive, and the boys are cute too. The hostel you found is amazing but you booked a flight out in a couple days and you aren’t able to change it. To leave a place unfinished is heartbreaking.

It’s smart to have a plan and an idea of what you want to do. But booking things too far in advance causes you to miss out on opportunities. If you hit it off with another traveller and they’re going to Ibiza and invite you along. Now you can go! Don’t be too afraid to live in the moment just be smart and have a contingency plan.

 

 

TRAVEL BUDDY OR SOLO?

Elizabeth:

Before I was married, I definitely preferred to travel with someone, and I have been blessed with some of the best travel buddies that I met when teaching in France. I did go solo twice, once to Budapest and another time through Ireland and Scotland. The first time to Budapest was an absolute blast! I had a great hostel experience that made the whole trip absolutely amazing. My second trip was different though. I felt very lonely in my hostels, and I hate eating alone. I did bus, boat and walking tours to help and I was able to meet some cool travellers, some who I am still in contact with today.

While in Edinburgh, I believe I was starting a transition phase and becoming a person who was getting a bit more comfortable with travelling alone, creating my own pace, wandering through cobbled streets, and being completely free to go and do what I wished without having to worry about another person. That being said, I now have my permanent travelling partner that I can’t really imagine travelling without.

Scarlett:

Very few things compare to the freedom and exhilaration of backpacking. I was lucky enough most recently to do a 5 month solo backpacking trip beginning in Iceland and head east, ending in Alaska.

Now, some of you may find that solo travelling is intimidating and would prefer to travel with a buddy or in a group. And that’s great; there are so many benefits to travelling with other people. I was always of the mind that I needed to travel with someone…until I did it.

I had the unfortunate experience of starting a 3 month backpacking trip with someone and it ending after 3 weeks! Unsure how to continue and terrified of being on my own, I trudged on. Although it was incredibly hard, it completely changed who I was and forced me into a situation that I didn’t think I was capable of surviving. Since then, I’ve been on 2 other successful long term trips on my own and haven’t looked back. The thing to remember about solo travel is even though you are on your own (and yes you will have your lonely moments), you are never truly alone. There are tons of others who are doing the exact same thing as you; you just need to know where to look.

 

ELIZABETH’S TOP TIPS

  1. Go on Tours

This is a great way to come into contact with other travellers and make a connection. Beer tours are some of the best, because people are particularly social when in a pub setting.

  1. Join Couchsurfing

Maybe you want to avoid eating alone, or really need something to do in the evening that isn’t touristy. Couch surfing is a great community of travellers and you can find many local events they are hosting that you can join. From jazz nights, to poetry readings, to beach parties. The members are very supporting and will want you to come!

 

SCARLETT’S TOP TIPS

  1. Picking the right hostel.

Picking the right hostel can make or break your experience. I always use the Hostelworld app because the high ratings and quality.

Things to look for:

  • A common area or bar area.
  • Check the reviews and leave your own when you leave.
  • The bigger the dorm room the more friendship opportunities there are. Mixed dorms often have more people who are interested in making connections.

Of course just because the hostel doesn’t advertise these things doesn’t mean it’s not a good place to stay but it gives you a good jumping off point.

  1. Be open-minded.

It seems like common sense but it really isn’t.

Be open-minded to: new people, opportunities, cultures, and be willing to learn new things because that’s what travel is all about. Of course you’re not going to get along with everyone, and that guy who snores in your dorm isn’t great, but essentially everyone is looking for the same thing: Adventure. So embrace the moment and try to say Yes as much as possible. And remember that the crappy hostels/people/experiences normally turn into some of the funnier and best stories.

backpacking

This wraps up our combined efforts to inform and inspire those thinking about backpacking! To finish, why not do a quick short survey and enter a chance to win a beautiful traveller’s backpack? It honestly does not take more than 5 minutes, and it’s all about travelling!

{Click here} You have until June 30th to enter!

I picked the blue one if I win! Which one will you choose? Will you be going backpacking in the future? Let me know below in the comments below!

Tags : collaboration
Elizabeth

The author Elizabeth

Traveller . Day dreamer.

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