Whether you plan to explore the world for three months or three years, a backpacking holiday can be full of new and exciting experiences and opportunities. But with a great adventure comes great planning, and making sure you have taken all precautions to keep you and your travelling companions (if you plan on taking any!) safe should be at the top of the list.
So where do you start?
Research doesn’t have to be tedious, think of it as setting your itinerary and an opportunity to discover some hidden, less tourist-y, spots. The top things to look out for in your chosen destination is; the nearest pharmacy or hospital, police stations, banks or ATM’s and somewhere to buy refreshments. As part of your backpacking holiday you may find yourself heading off the beaten track, so knowing your route and surrounding area is vital should something go wrong and you need to seek assistance.
Medical Treatment Abroad:
Speaking of seeking assistance, medical expenses abroad can be incredibly costly with some facilities, particularly those around the more touristy areas, being known for overcharging tourists for treatment they may not necessarily need. Making sure you have a suitable travel insurance policy that covers emergency treatment abroad will mean that you can rest assure, should something go wrong you will not be left with a huge debt.
The equipment you take on your backpacking holiday will solely depend on whether you are heading into the wilderness, trying out glamping or hopping between hostels. Having said that, there are some essential every buddying backpacker – and the experienced ones – should ensure they pack:
- Suitable footwear and clothing are a given. Pack light but pack sensibly, you will need clothes for all weathers and activities.
- A fully equipped first aid kit, you can buy travel-sized ones to slip into your backpack.
- Plug adaptors, if you have an electricity supply that is!
- A pen knife or swiss army knife can be a life saver in some situations but just make sure the country you are travelling will allow you to pass though customs.
- Sun cream, bug repellent and after sun. These go without saying.
- Locks! Even if you plan on staying in hostels, make sure you lock away your personal belongings.
- A map or tourist guide of some description – just make sure it’s up to date!
- Of course do not forget a good waterproof rucksack
- Waterproof trousers for hiking.
- Portable GPS for Walking & Hiking.
As part of your backpacking holiday you may be looking to hire a moped or quad bike for a day or so to allow you to see more of the sites – this is particularly popular in South East Asia.
Although hire companies will carry out very little or no checks before leasing you the vehicle it is important to remember your travel insurance will not cover you for any medical expenses if you are in an accident and do not hold the correct UK license for the vehicle you are driving, no matter what the hire company say the law in the particular country will allow – this goes for passengers too!
Most importantly, always wear a helmet and appropriate clothing – just in case.
The right travel insurance:
We’ve touched on this subject a few times but just to be clear, it is never advisable to head off on your backpacking holiday without making sure you have taken out the right travel insurance policy for your needs.
Look for a backpacker or Longstay policy as these are designed for longer trips (usually up to two years) and are likely to be more cost effective. Always check the cover levels are suitable i.e. the cancellation covers the cost of the entire holiday, gadget cover is included if needed, personal possession cover is high enough to cover your things if they are lost or stolen, and we’ve already spoken about medical expenses.
Make sure the destinations you plan to visit are covered too – travel insurers set their destination categories differently so you may need to call the insurer direct just to check.
For more travel insurance advice visit Travel Insurance Explained [ßInsert link here]
Lastly let’s talk about vaccinations, particularly if your backpacking holiday is taking place outside of Europe. When carrying out your research check to see if any vaccinations are necessary and ensure you leave enough time for your GP to administer the required does before your departure time.
Travelling to a country without the correct vaccinations may lead to you being refused entry – not quite how you want your adventure to start.