Are you tired of the same old daily routine? Do you want to get out and see some of the most beautiful places nature has to offer? If you’re looking for a low-cost and exciting new way to vacation, a backpacking trip may be for you.
Backpacking trips are not your standard vacations. Instead of packing a huge suitcase or two with everything you could ever think of needing while away, backpacking focuses on the essentials. As you may have guessed, backpacking entails using a backpack to carry around your belongings everywhere you go. It often entails visiting other countries, sightseeing, and hiking or traveling on foot as your main mode of transportation.
Backpacking trips are usually longer in duration as well, so what you bring needs to be carefully managed to avoid back pain and other discomfort from time spent on your feet.
Think of backpacking as a low-cost, lightweight method of traveling with unrivaled freedoms, especially when compared to a standard hotel vacation. If that sounds like something you’re into, then keep reading for some tips to help you plan a backpacking trip.
Determine Your Trip Timeline
The first thing you need to know before you can plan your trip is how long you can be gone. Depending on the timeframe, your destinations, gear requirements, and more will vary. International trips, especially those involving hikes and walking trails, can take a long and varying amount of time to complete.
If you have a strict deadline for when you need to be back or a limited amount of time, it may be best to stay in your country.
Additionally, keep in mind the weather at the location you choose will vary depending on the time of year. If you can wait until the ideal weather for your trip, you’ll have a better time.
Grab a Friend or Don’t.
Vacations are always more fun with a friend. Whether it’s to motivate you, to help pass time, or to make you more comfortable, having someone else there can be a great experience. Not only that, but in case of an emergency, you can rely on them to help, making backpacking less intimidating for newcomers.
However, you don’t need someone to go with you. Many backpackers start with a friend, and then decide to go adventuring on their own. The freedom and independence of traveling and sightseeing on your own is liberating, and backpacking is a great way to make that happen. Just be careful, stay safe, and bring an emergency contact method.
Choose a Destination
Now that you have a time frame, you can choose your destination. Have you always wanted to travel Europe? Research some trails and parks you may be interested in seeing. Stuck in the US but want to see more of it? Check out the Appalachian mountain trails. Not sure where to go? Throw a dart at a map and then look up some trails to visit. The only limitations are your budget, your time frame, the weather, and your imagination.
Many backpackers choose to go on sightseeing or hiking explorations; however, the weather plays a huge role in these trips. During certain parts of the year, a forest may be full of life with waterfalls flowing freely. Other times, it may be cold and quiet with little to see or do.
Thankfully, you planned out your timeline ahead of time and can research weather in various locations during your vacation. This way you can stay safe and comfortable while still exploring the beauty of nature. After all, you don’t want to walk through the forest when it’s freezing out or walk through the desert in the heat of summer.
Check Regulations and Plan Your Route
Once you’ve chosen a location for your backpacking adventure, it’s time to plan everything to get a better idea of what you need to do in preparation for the trip. Many first-timers forget that there are rules, regulations, permits, and more than need to be considered before you can go on a trail. This makes your first step to check for local rules and regulations to follow, and ensure you meet them to be able to vacation there.
You will also need to choose a route at your location to take. Trails have varying difficulties and span various distances, so be sure to choose one that you can complete comfortably in your timeframe. Set a goal for the distance you want to travel each day, plot any stops along the way, and choose a destination to get off the trail. This also helps you to estimate how long you can expect to be on the trail, making scheduling easier.
Prepare Your Gear
You may have a destination and a plan, but you’re not quite ready to leave yet. Your gear is perhaps the most important part of your trip. It will keep you alive, comfortable, and be the pain in your back so choosing your gear correctly is crucial to the success of your trip. Keep in mind when choosing your gear to weigh the benefits of something against its weight, as you will carry everything on your back and every pound counts.
What you will need will vary depending on where you go, how long you plan to be, and how comfortable you are with roughing it. Obviously, you will need a heavy-duty backpack capable of holding your gear without being too bulky itself, as you are trying to make your backpack as light as possible for easier travel. Food and water are also tied for the most important pieces of gear, as you will need them regardless of the environment you are in. A device for communication (or two) is advised so you can get help if something goes wrong.
You will need clothing that is appropriate for the climate you will be in, and ideally it would be waterproof. If backpacking for more than a few days, cooking supplies like a lightweight stove and fuel as well as some utensils will be helpful. A lightweight sleeping bag that you can fold to a minimal size will be helpful for individuals, as a tent is often too bulky for a single person. Finally, medical supplies like a first aid kit and tools like lighters, flashlights, maps, and a knife are all crucial in the case of an emergency as well as for making day-to-day life easier.
Final Checks and Preparations
Once you think you’ve got everything planned and ready to go, it’s time for another look over of your gear and plans. Have you researched your destination, and received the proper authorization to be there? Is your time frame and route set, with contingencies for weather? Is your gear working and appropriate for the duration and location of your trip? Have you told someone where you are going, and made sure you brought multiple forms of communication?
Now that you’ve checked, planned, checked, packed, and checked again, you’re ready to begin your backpacking adventure. Remember to stay safe, stay hydrated, and have fun. Your first backpacking trip will surely be something you’ll never forget, so make the most of it and enjoy.