As we prepare to head into the new year, thousands, and likely tens of thousands of newly minted college graduates from around the world will head off on backpacking trips ranging from a few weeks to “forget it, I'm not going home!”
Like Dave of Go Backpacking, who found a new home in Medellín, Colombia toward the end of his 'round the world trip, it's possible you will too.
That's why it pays to plan ahead and leave your home country in tip-top shape, physically and financially. Here are a few basics every traveler should think about.
1. See Your Doctor(s)
It’s a good idea to book an appointment with a doctor or health professional at least six months before you’re due to go on the trip of a lifetime. You’ll not only need to arrange your travel vaccinations, but you should have a routine physical and vision test too.
It may sound strange, but getting your hearing tested is also important and by clicking here you’ll be able to arrange an appointment.
If you are going to certain countries you’ll need to have specialized vaccinations, but if you’re sticking to travel in the UK and Europe, you won’t need much advance medical preparation.
2. Travel Insurance
The Travel Independent website gives some very important advice on the types of insurance that you take out.
There is not only health cover to think about, but also emergency evacuation, cancellation, and theft insurance. The last thing you want is to lose your smartphone and have no means of communication.
You should arrange your cover as early as possible and try to read the small print. There are lots of policies and the prices and coverage varies dramatically.
3. Banking and Credit Cards
One of the most important things to consider when going backpacking is how to gain access to your money. You can carry some cash, though it’s not advisable to carry too much at once.
The best strategy is to rely on plastic, and taking money out of ATM machines, but sometimes accessing your account in a foreign country can command very high transaction fees, so check with your bank before you go.
You can always keep your money supply topped up by working temporary jobs or you could start a blog. The HappyTime blog explains how you can set one up and how to earn money at the same time.
4. Plan Your Journey
You might have a rough idea about where you want to visit, but if you actually sit down with your laptop or even a map, you will be able to better plan your route.
You’re going to want to see some of the local culture and nightlife, but you don’t really want to be taken for a ride, literally.
If a travel agency or website is offering the bargain of a lifetime, be wary, they probably want your money and won’t give you anything in return.
5. Research Local Customs
Every country has its own customs and traditions and in some areas you have to make sure that you follow the rules.
For example, if you're going to a Muslim country, read up on dress/undress protocols before you walk on to a beach, especially if you’re female.
If you're in Saudi Arabia, you’re not allowed to kiss in public, so take care. Just read up on the customs of every country you plan to visit before you set off and you'll minimize mistakes in etiquette and the attraction of unwanted attention.