Are you thinking to go on your first ever backpacking trip or did you just recently return from one which did not turn out as you expected? In either case, to make your upcoming trip a pleasant and memorable experience, you need to plan and prepare for your trip to make it one of the most memorable experiences of your life. I had to go through a lot of problems and frustration on my first trip when I went under-prepared to a place which was foreign to me.
So, here are few of the essential aspects that you should consider exceptionally carefully before journeying out on your trip.
Time, Place and Duration of Travel:
Planning is critical for your trip. It is often said that those who fail to plan plan to fail. You need to decide the exact place, mode of travel, duration of your trip and time of the year as different places around the world at different times can be fun visiting as well as pose various challenges. Around 33% travelers choose North America / Canada & Australia as their destination to go for a backpacking trip that would last more than 12 months, whereas about 40% of people choose Europe as their destinations for their shorter trips. Whichever location you wish, plan accordingly and check in advance if that place requires a permit.
You need to finalize your team members well in advance as problems can arise during the trip if there are compatibility issues among members. You should look for team members that share a somewhat same level of fitness, habits, and interests. This is extremely important as you don’t want to end up arguing with your team members while on the trip. I personally always prefer to travel with my old buddies as we all have developed a certain level of confidence in each other concerning our habits, interests, and passions while on a backpacking trip. However, you can also look below at the trends of what do men and women prefer when it comes to deciding on your travel companion:
|Traveling with friends/siblings
|Traveling with a partner
Clothing is the center of all your preparation as you need to keep suitable clothes depending on the area and its climate you are planning to visit. The best solution is to continue, on a minimum, a lightweight jacket (in case the weather is cold), a waterproof pant (in case you have to camp near a beach) and few t-shirts to keep you light and comfortable. Also, choose your footwear carefully as you don’t want to sustain an injury while hiking or during other physical activities. Choose supportive, rugged shoes appropriate to the terrain you are planning to visit.
Apart from the above mentioned essential items, you need to keep with you the following items as well to make your trip comfortable:
- First-aid kit with painkillers, bandages and any other medicines you regularly use.
- Headlamp or a torch, to help you at night time.
- A light sleeping bag so that you get a good night sleep to enjoy the next day. I remember my first trip where I could not sleep on an ordinary linen sheet and had to suffer throughout my trip due to inadequate sleep, resulting in early exhaustion and headaches.
- Multi-purpose pocket knife a.k.a. Swiss Army Knife. Based on my personal experience, this can be the difference between a smooth trip and a one where you waste a lot of time, as you will find so many uses of this at all time. Keep it with you and keep it handy.
- Navigations tools, such as maps and compass, if you expect poor reception of your cell phone/tablet devices as might be the case in remote areas.
- Food: Try to keep as much food in dry forms possible such as dried items, cheese bars, and energy foods. Keep other food items based on the group members’ common preferences.
- Basic toiletries, including disposable plastic bags. You will need these bags at all times: to pack useful items, to dispose of unneeded items and also to protect your valuables in case there is heavy rain.
Gear Up, Get Ready:
Prepare your terminal equipment at least a day before your departure and get used to of its weight and size. Ideally, your bag should not carry more than 25 – 30% of your body weight as it would be too complicated for you to travel on foot with any more weight. During the start of my backpacking trips, I spent some money purchasing expensive but low weight garments, accessories and the backpack bag itself to keep myself at east during the journey.
Learn Basic Camping Skills:
In case this is your first time on a backpacking trip, get used to of necessary camping skills such as how to set up a tent and start a fire. Practice these well before your trip dates, possibly in your backyard or garden as you don’t want to waste your time on trip sorting out these necessary things.
During the Trip:
While on the trip, stick to your plan and don’t try to explore places that you do not know of. Get sound sleep at night so that you have all the energy next day to visit your planned locations. Keep your gear tidy and clean up the camping place as you don’t want to leave a wrong impression of the area you came from or infuriate the local authorities due to your negligence.
Taking into account all the factors mentioned above would prove to be extremely vital for your trip. However, even more, valuable and useful would be for you to discuss personal experiences and opinions of those who are regular visitors to your planned locations. This will give you a further insight of how things unfold when you set foot on such a venture.
It is up to your self if you make your trip an incredible adventure, a painful lesson or just merely any other ordinary trip. One last yet the most important reminder: Take your camera along to capture all the memorable and surprising moments with your closed ones as the famous saying goes, “Take only pictures, leave only footprints.”