What should I pack?
Make sure you only pack what you really need and be brutal with your items. Make a list of the things you want to take with you and then lay it all out together. You can then see how much it really is and start to cut down. Be smart and take a travel towel, rather than a big, fluffy bath towel. Think carefully about what items you will actually use and wear on your travels, as well as whether they'll fit into your backpack easily. You'll soon find that list shrinking down. To help we have also created a backpackers checklist.
How can I stay in touch with people at home?
When you head off on your backpacking trip, there's a strong chance that you'll be off the radar for several weeks. Back in the good old days before the invention of the internet, contact with people back home was restricted to the occasional phone call and letters or postcards that could take weeks to arrive. However, there is now wi-fi all over the world and connecting via a tablet, computer or mobile phone is much easier. You can email, Skype or call with relative ease, letting you get in contact regularly and even have face-to-face contact via the internet. If you are travelling alone we have created this backpacking guide just for you.
Should I learn the language?
If you are going backpacking around the world, it's likely you'll visit different countries where several languages are spoken. The chances of you being able to speak every language that you experience are slim, but it can be hugely beneficial to learn a few key phrases before you leave. You might want to learn one particular language, especially if it's spoken in several places that you're going to visit, but knowing the basics is normally enough to get you by, particularly if you can learn to say that you don't speak the language. If you are global backpacking check out our backpackers guide to the world.
What should I do with my travel documents?
This is a tricky one because you won't always have your backpack with you or in sight. When you go out in the day, your backpack will be left in the hostel or it could be loaded onto a bus, so you don't really want to keep all your documents in there. Make several copies before you go and store them in different places; that way, if you lose your bag or something gets stolen, you'll have back-up copies to hand. While a photocopy of your passport isn't going to let you travel very far, it will make life much easier to arrange for a replacement. The same applies to your travel insurance and tickets. Keep the originals in a money belt or secure on your person, with copies in a day bag and in your backpack.
Do I need specialist travel insurance?
You certainly don't want to travel without having insurance, but you could also benefit from having a specific policy tailored to backpacking trips. A lot of backpackers like to do different activities that they haven't done before like bungee jumping and these sorts of things aren't always included in standard travel insurance policies. If you get one tailored specifically for backpackers, you can often find a whole range of unusual activities are covered, as well as things like theft and medical care in even the most obscure countries. With that in mind, you'd do well to get a backpacking insurance policy, rather than a generic, one-size-fits-all one.
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