Traveling Ted is a blog that takes readers along on my adventures hiking, canoeing, skiing, and international backpacking. Many blogs focus on one aspect of backpacking, but I tackle both the outdoor adventure side and international exploration as well.

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The anticipation of your first backpacking trip can fill you with both excitement and a sense of trepidation.  You’ve most probably been planning it for some time; having carefully selected the destinations on your itinerary, scrimped and saved your hard earned cash and chatted to your fellow backpackers, the time has finally come to pack the backpack that will be your companion throughout your trip, but what should you pack and how can you make sure you are properly prepared?

Currency picture

Tips for backpackers – Photo from Maccath @ flickr

It’s important to pack carefully as space is limited and you’ll have to lug your backpack around with you everywhere (you’ll soon regret packing that extra pair of jeans or trainers…).

When it comes to backpacking, you really can’t prepare enough and should plan for every eventuality that could put a dampener on your trip.  To guide you on your way, why not check out my 10 top tips below:

Backpacking picture

Photo from Chantal Foster @ flickr

Top tips for backpackers 

Buy a travel insurance policy

It would be a shame to have to call off the rest of your trip because you’ve had your spending money stolen, or injured yourself and received an expensive medical bill, so consider purchasing a travel insurance policy to give you that extra peace of mind.

Select the right backpack

It’s a good idea to avoid purchasing a fancy new backpack that will give opportunistic thieves the idea that they’ll find some fancy kit inside.  Seasoned backpackers tend to have a trusty old backpack that’s accompanied them on most of their trips; usually looking like it’s seen better days.

If you do need to buy a new backpack for your tip, it’s a good idea to spend some time roughing it up to make it look a little bit more worn and well used, this way it’ll soon become a less attractive target to thieves. 

Keep it light

Even on a regular holiday you’ll most probably find you don’t wear half of the clothes you pack, and when space is limited it’s really important to carefully consider each item you add into your luggage.

As a good rule of thumb, you should aim to ditch half of the initial gear you pack, asking yourself the question “do I really need to take this?” as you consider each item.  You’re going to be carrying that backpack around for some time so it’s wise to keep the weight down, and one of the key culprits for adding extra weight are jeans; aim to take just one good quality pair with you and they should last you fine.

Pack some flip flops

You’d be surprised how useful a pair of flip flops can be; handy for a trip to the beach (plus an all round comfortable choice of footwear) and perfect for wearing when you’re sharing a shower with other people or using one that’s not as clean as you’d like it to be.

Flip flop pics

Photo from c.a.s.e.y. @ flickr

Be clever with your cash

It’s handy to have some cash on you at all times; however, you should be careful to limit this to just what you’ll need for your food and accommodation for the following couple of days. This limits the damage in case you lose or have your wallet stolen.

The safest way to take your money with you these days is to utilize a prepaid credit card which will allow you to preload a fixed amount of spending money, meaning a thief would not have access to your bank account and the rest of your funds.

You should try to split your money across a couple of cards in case you lose one.  It’s also a good idea to have an emergency fund in case you run low on cash. A money belt is advisable so you can store your passport, tickets, and cash somewhere safe.

Get your paperwork sorted out before traveling

You may be required to apply for a visa before entering some countries. It is wise to get this done before you travel to avoid any delays or refusal of entry.  You should also have a back up itinerary to ensure you don’t have to call your trip short if you are unable to visit one of the countries on your wish list.

It’s important to plan the route you will be taking. You should find out the prices of the transport you’ll need to take, and have a couple of alternatives in case your money is running low or you need to get somewhere quicker.

Keep your photos safe

You will definitely want to document your trip with hundreds of photos. It is a good idea to back up your photo’s every now and again in case of disaster.  It’s easy to do this by uploading to a laptop, to a your iCloud, or to a flash usb drive.

Get those vaccinations

 Once you’ve decided on the destinations you’ll be traveling to, it’s a good idea to do some research on the internet to see what vaccinations you’ll need.  You should be able to get these done at your local doctor. You should also ask about preventative medication if traveling to a malarious country. This can be researched online as well.

Take a ball of string

This will soon justify its space in your backpack as you’ll find it comes in handy for just about everything.  You can use it to make a temporary clothesline, fix a pair of shoes if the laces snap, and it’ll come in handy for tying bits and pieces to your backpack.

Ball of string picture

I love the ball of string idea – Missy & the universe @ flickr

Pack some hand sanitizer

You never know when you’ll get access to water to have a wash and allow you to clean your hands, so it’s important to pack some alcohol gel based hand sanitizer.  Frequent use will help to kill around 99.9% of the bacteria that could be on your hands. You will also be very thankful for it when people around you have stomach bugs you can’t afford to catch.

Thanks guest poster for the great tips. I especially like the idea of bringing a ball of string along inside the backpack. I have never heard that before, and I can see how it could be handy.

Adventure on!

The goal of this site is to inspire people to outdoor adventure travel and then provide tips. If you liked this post then sign up for the email newsletter. Notifications go out once or twice a month with what is new with Traveling Ted’s adventures. Your email will not be share and you will receive no spam. Other e-follow options include Facebook (click on the like box to the right) or twitter (click on the pretty bird on the rainbow above).