A backpacking holiday can be a great way of seeing the world but although it’s a fairly spontaneous way of travelling, it’s one that really benefits from thorough preparation. Here are a few things to think about before you set off on your adventure:
Travel insurance is a must for this kind of undertaking yet the ad-hoc nature of a backpacking holiday means that most standard policies aren’t really applicable. Luckily, many insurance providers cater for this kind of extended sojourn and offer some sort of annual backpackers policy, which will cover you for a wider variety of circumstances and for a longer period than your average policy. Having the option to extend your policy or make claims whilst you’re still on the road, or to be insured for a wide variety of locations and activities can often be essential for a backpacker. Research your options thoroughly before you decide but make sure that you have some form of cover; no one wants to have their journey of a lifetime brought down by a stolen bag or a broken leg, especially when they’re hundreds if not thousands of miles from home.
Round the World or DIY flights
An important factor in choosing your insurance policy is planning where you’re going to go on your travels. If you plan on going around the world, then you may better off buying a Round the World ticket – a plane ticket that will allow you to travel to and from different countries without needing to make separate arrangements. This kind of ticket can often save money in the long run and has the benefit of providing an overall plan for your journey, without tying you down to specific destinations and deadlines.
Of course alternatively you can Do-it-Yourself and book your flights independently. Whilst this does give you a huge amount of freedom in choosing who you travel with and where you go, the disadvantages include uncertain costs, a lot more planning and organisation and a lack of certainty on how things will pan out when you need them to.
Travelling under your own steam often costs less initially than a conventional holiday but it also requires you to take a fair supply of money with you to cover the inevitable expenses of accommodation, food and other such essentials. You probably won’t know exactly where you’re staying or what you’ll be doing in advance, which may be an important part of the appeal but also means that you need to work out the best way of making sure you can access funds in a pinch.
Taking large amounts of cash is obviously a risky strategy and it’s probably not all that useful anyway if you plan on visiting several different countries. Instead, you should try and keep the cash that you carry down to about what you think you’ll need in a week – and you should always make sure that you keep some back for emergency situations.
The safest way of accessing and carrying your funds is through an ATM or a bank – but keep in mind that if you’re going way off-track, you won’t be able to reach them. You should also make sure that you won’t pay excessive costs or exchange rates if you access your account overseas. It’s also a good idea to take a few traveller’s cheques as a backup to ATM; although they have their drawbacks, if you lose your card then they can be an essential way of getting money in a foreign land.