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5 Practical Tips for Backpacking for the First Time

Backpacking for the first time can be exciting. After all, you don’t know at all what to expect. Of course there are a lot of travellers who have preceded you and overloaded you with tips, but really experiencing it yourself is ultimately different. And because of all the well-intentioned advice, sometimes you don’t know what’s really important anymore. 

To help you on your way, we collected tips from our followers and our own absolute recommendations for the novice backpacker in one overview: 10 tips for and by backpackers! With these backpack tips you will be well prepared for the adventure!

1. Don’t Book Everything in Advance When You Go Backpacking for the First Time

Because backpacking for the first time can be quite exciting, many people tend to book everything in advance. This is not only a waste of money (it is often much cheaper in the country itself), but you can already fully record your travel plans. It is precisely leaving room for free interpretation of your trip on site that produces the most beautiful experiences.TRAVELING WITH A ONE-WAY TICKET? ARRANGE AN ‘ONWARD’ TICKET. 

If you go backpacking for a longer period of time, you often travel with a one-way trip. After all, you don’t know how long you want to stay somewhere and what your next destination will be. However, at many customs you have to show your return or onward ticket before you are allowed to enter a country.

2. Put an Extra Bag in Your Backpack

Bring an extra bag. For example, a cotton bag . Not only fun, also ideal for a day at the beach, city or night out. It doesn’t give the impression of valuable content and you can stuff it right into your backpack. 

In addition, a daypack of 24-32 litres is super useful for multi-day tracks or day trips, for example. You can often store your large luggage in your hostel. You can also use it for your hand luggage on the plane or bus. Another solution is a foldable backpack if you don’t want to carry a large backpack and daypack when you are travelling through. A fanny pack can also be very useful in cities.

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3. Only Use Your Travel Guide as a Backup (and Souvenir)

Yes, a Lonely Planet, Rough Guide or Bradt is certainly useful to put in your backpack (or download it on the e-reader). But don’t lean on it too much. Hostels and restaurants listed in the Lonely Planet sometimes adjust their prices accordingly (although that’s not as bad as it used to be, when everyone was completely ‘dependent’ on the Lonely Planet). And what could be more fun to go full into the adventure and deviate from the beaten track? We can’t say it often enough, but talk to and listen to other travellers and locals.

4. Try Not to Pack Too Much Stuff in Your Backpack

When you pack your stuff you think you need it all. Well, we are happy to help you out of that dream. Skip 25% of that stuff. You don’t need them. For real! Make sure you leave room in your backpack. Especially when you sleep in a dorm and have to leave early, you don’t always have the time and inclination to pack your bag as tightly as when you had all day at home and could spread all your stuff on the floor. 

So make sure that your belongings also fit in your bag if you cram everything in in a hurry. And space for souvenirs is not a superfluous luxury in itself ;). Also smart: roll up your clothes, then you get fewer wrinkles. And the golden tip: Pack your things in packing cubes.

5. Buy a Local Sim Card at the Airport

A local SIM card ensures that you can use the internet cheaply when travelling outside Europe, where your Dutch or Belgian SIM card is not valid. And that is of course super handy! Just book your next accommodation, bus or tour, find your way with Google maps, keep family informed about your adventures via, for example, Polarsteps, Whatsapp with your (new travel) friends… internet on your phone has simply become indispensable. 

The easiest place to buy a local SIM card is at the airport. Immediately in the arrivals hall you will often find stands from the various telephone providers where you can buy your SIM card and have it activated immediately.

Read More: What Exactly is Backpacking, and How Do You Get Started?

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