Backpacking is a fun and life-changing experience that offers you the perks of traveling while spending less. It gives you more flexibility because you are not tied up to a fixed itinerary, which means you can stay in a place for as long as you wish and leave whenever you want.
Traveling on a budget makes you realize how little you need to survive away from home. Since all your essential belongings are packed in a single bag, you need to have a high level of organizing skills when choosing the items that matter most in your adventure.
“Backpacking is less comfortable than traveling as a tourist,” said outdoor enthusiast Peter Hoopis, President of Peter Hoopis Ventures. “Your budget is limited, and that means no staying in luxury hotels, no eating in fancy restaurants, and no booking business or first-class tickets. As much as backpacking allows you to enjoy the freedom of exploring the world, you must also endure the discomforts that come with it.”
Experienced backpackers already have a taste of what it’s like to be nomad travelers, so they know exactly the dos and don’ts of backpacking. However, this outdoor activity can be overwhelming for beginners who have yet to experience getting lost in the wilderness. While some learn the basics of backpacking by attending workshops or simply browsing the internet, it doesn’t cover everything they need to know.
Here are some of the backpacking mistakes beginners should avoid in order to make their escapade a lot better despite their lack of experience:
Mistake #1: Packing low-calorie food and carrying too much water
Your bag can’t contain all the food you need for the entire backpacking duration. Eliminate unnecessary low-calorie snacks and only bring energy-boosting food. Calorie-dense and protein-rich foods are staples in backpacking. You should avoid consuming something that doesn’t have high energy value to fuel your body, especially if you’re on a hiking trip where food is scarce.
Cooking outdoors also adds extra pleasure to your trip. Bring portable cooking utensils if you’re planning to go out for more than two days. If you stop at a public market or grocery store, use it as an opportunity to restock your food supply and refill your water bottle.
Michael Haas, the owner and CEO of Angry BBQ, suggests that grilling is one of the easiest methods to prepare food when out in the woods. “Grilling doesn’t require many ingredients and can be done in almost any location. If you had the chance to buy fresh meat, it’s the best time to use your camping grill, season the meat with salt and pepper, and toss it over glowing charcoal.”
Meanwhile, choosing the right beverage is also crucial when backpacking. While water can lessen the chance of dehydration, caffeine-induced drinks are proven to make you more energetic and less tired on your journey. Nunzio Ross, the owner and Head Director at Majesty Coffee, agrees. “Caffeine stimulates the adrenaline, soothing your senses and giving you a boost in energy. Backpacking often requires long travels without rest, and drinking coffee helps ease your body to avoid fatigue,” Ross said.
Mistake #2: Bringing heavy gadgets for travel documentation
As a first-time backpacker, it’s always part of your goal to capture a memento of your trip as you discover places you’ve never seen before. Today’s technology makes it easier to record your experiences using digital cameras. However, keep in mind that the more gadgets and equipment you bring, the heavier and more hassle they are to carry.
Compact cameras are better than DSLRs when documenting your backpacking adventure because they’re smaller and lighter. If possible, you can ditch digital cameras and use your smartphone when taking photos and videos to give room for other more essential items.
Milo Cruz, CMO at Freelance Writing Jobs, has a more traditional approach in mind. “Instead of using bulky devices to document your trip, try describing your feelings and experience using a small notebook and a pen.”
“Writing is underrated nowadays because more people prefer visual content. However, if your purpose is to backpack for self-satisfaction and not for sharing on social media, then writing is a better way to be more in touch with your true emotions,” Cruz added.
Mistake #3: Not learning a country’s language before visiting
Backpacking includes exploring places outside your country of origin. If you’re a beginner and want to experience the thrill of engaging in a foreign environment, be prepared to get accustomed to its culture and know the people in the area. That said, you need to learn the country’s local languages or the basics at least. This helps you get around places more easily, allowing you to interact smoothly with the locals when asking for directions or reading signs.
“When you understand a country’s language, you can learn people’s culture and behaviors. This prevents you from committing actions that are not appropriate in the area or are considered disrespectful by the locals,” said Dov Breuer, COO at Fixlers.
“Knowing the language indicates you have exerted time and effort to familiarize a country’s culture and tradition. Language mirrors the societal upbringing of its native speakers, allowing you to create authentic connections with them,” Breuer added.
Though learning a foreign language is not an easy feat, there are a lot of online resources and apps that backpackers can rely on. You can download them on your phone for free or get a premium subscription for advanced learning features. You can also interact with more experienced backpackers in online communities like Facebook and Reddit to get some tips about the language and culture of your desired travel destination.
There are more things to remember other than the three mentioned above. If you are a beginner, you might get swamped by the level of knowledge you need to fully appreciate the art of backpacking. However, as they say, experience is the best teacher. No matter how prepared you are on your first-ever trip, nothing compares to the lessons you can acquire when you immerse yourself in the complex, primitive, and liberating world of backpacking away from modern conveniences.