Few things keep you more anticipated than a looming flight headed towards an adventure. When that plane is headed for a backpacking trip, then you have double the reasons to be excited. Traveling without constraints is in no extreme terms: beyond the realm of amazing. Don’t let this excitement cloud your rational brain, though. It can range from a hassle to a nightmare if you’re not prepared.
1) Get Travel Insurance! (Absolutely NO excuses)
I met a woman in Malaysia who spends half of every year traveling to a new, remote place (goals). However, for now, she was just relaxing on the island of Langkawi because in the first few weeks of her travels her appendix ruptured and she had to be flown by helicopter to a hospital, followed by a decently scary surgery. The trauma? Unavoidable, but what she did avoid was, literally, thousands-hundreds of thousands in medical & bills.
This rule is one of the first and foremost. There really is no excuses because, truth be told, it can be pretty cheap! For six months of coverage with Allianz, I paid about 145$. It’s not just about health coverage either. Travel insurance can save you when it comes to stolen property, electronics, missed flights, etc. You may not need it, but do you really want to risk it?
2) Vaccines (Or plans to get them upon arrival)
This is one of those travel things that I can’t really preach how to do. Everyone varies so much on this topic, some people getting every vaccine needed for that whole corner of the world, and others getting none. My advice would be to do the research and decide what you think is the smartest choice.
Another point to consider, prices. I’m from the United States, and when I saw how much all my vaccines were going to cost, I think I might’ve cried. I did a little research on the idea whim that maybe I could get them cheaper in Bangkok, and ended up doing just that (after consulting with a doctor, who wholeheartedly told me to do it). I successfully got all my vaccines at the Thai Travel Clinic, and I’d go so far as to describe the experience as extremely easy. I got my peace of mind for 35$, as opposed to over 1,400$.
3) Extra Passport Pictures
If you plan on going to a few different countries, chances are, at least one of them is going to have a “visa on arrival” deal or you’ll have to apply for the visa ahead of time. These activities require an extra passport photo every time. I recommend bringing one or two for every border entry you’ll be doing. There are alternatives if you’ve forgotten this step, but you’re not going to want to do a photo op while trying to figure out another country’s customs.
Don’t feel like figuring out how to get six more passport photos as you read this article a few days before your departure? All good. I used the app ‘Passport Photo Booth’ and then printed out the photos to size at Staples. Worked perfectly & cost a dollar!
4) Pack light, but bring extras of the things you really need
I’ve worn contact lenses since I was in elementary school. And, I have seriously bad vision. Elderly people are often perplexed and concerned when I tell them my prescription. It was one of the major concerns I had about traveling. If I ran out of contacts, it would be a whole problem. I brought double the amount that I needed, and that was a solid choice, because I definitely went home with less than half left.
I don’t know what your version of contact lenses is, but this goes for most important things that would be difficult to replace far away. The opposite advice goes for things that are easily replaceable. In Asia, it was easy to get daily things I needed in most places. This especially goes for clothes. You don't need to bring more clothes than you need, because chances are you'll be buying a lot for a lot less than you would in your home country. However, this might not be true for everywhere, so do some research on your own destination.
5) Set up a playlist for Travel Music
I’m a Spotify person. Mostly because of their effortlessly on point algorithm for my ‘Discover Weekly’ playlist. It baffles me every time how I not only like the majority of the songs, but how they always manage to get a song on there that I’d used to love and forgot about. Every week I was traveling, this playlist updated.
Through the months, I accumulated a great deal of songs with memories attached to them. Even if it’s not through Spotify, you’ll be sure to pick up new tunes along the way. I recommend making a playlist beforehand, and adding songs into it as you go. Now, months later hearing those songs still brings me back, and it’s an awesome souvenir.