Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Top 10 backpacking mistakes

Many of us are very organized tourists who pack everything nicely in a tidy suitcase and plan a trip very much in advance to avoid any last minute rush. But some are those who never plan so much for a trip. They just open their bags and stuff it with some cloths and a few essential things in the last minute and are found out of the home in the very next moment. This includes me as well :-P.

Though it may sound adventurous, and to some extent it is, but it have some loop holes too. From my past experiences I have learned that there are some mistakes we backpackers commit and regret later when we reach the destination or to the no come back possible sort of a point in our journeys. 

I have tried to frame 10 backpacking mistakes that we backpackers often make. I hope this will help you a little to make a check list before you leave for your next exploration.

1. Too much or too little – Packing too much of stuff is going to put extra burden on our shoulders. Knowing this does not help. Most of us still think that everything is essential and we pack it all just to cry about the weight of the bag later. On the contrary, sometimes we tend to pack too little that we end up facing adverse weather condition such as rain or cold as we don’t have proper means to save ourselves then. Recently I was in the mountains and I made a mistake of judging the weather from my home location. When I reached there I had to buy extra sweaters to stay alive & this shook my budget plan for the trip. However, I could come back alive.

2. Lack of research – This is a point I partially mentioned in mistake no. 1. Sometimes we decide to embark on a journey in such a hurry that we do not do a little research about its weather, political or social conditions. In some cases this can be too dangerous. If we do not get time to update ourselves immediately we should make it a habit to keep reading about places around on regular bases to have a fair knowledge of the destinations we can possibly visit.

3. Hitchhiking – Now, let’s face the reality, there are no free lunches! It is strictly advised that do not try to take free lifts unless you are in a group of four or more. Wandering around in a stranger land is thrilling but can be dangerous as you can be an easy catch for the criminals of the area. So, be responsible to yourself, trust your feet and keep going.

4. Not thinking about money – This is a mistake I make every now & then. Fix your budget and stick to it. If you are in a foreign land try to get a work permit before you take off from your home country. I have faced adversities due to lack of accounting skills on many of my trips. I just hope you don’t do the same.

5. Alcohol & drugs – yeah there’s a party going on. Let it go. Try to avoid losing yourself to drugs and alcohol. It may sound like fun & freedom combined but it can end up bad if you are caught in a bad company. In any case, if you are sober and aware of your surroundings you stand a good chance to have a healthy trip. Good for me that I do not smoke or booze.

6. No map or compass – well yes, people out there are always ready to tell you the directions. But there are chances that you cannot ask them properly due to a language barrier. Keep a map and a compass in your backpack just in case you need to know the directions. In the age of smart phones it is not a big task, or is it?

7. Wrong shoes in right feet – Always trust a good pair of shoes when you step out for a trip. Backpackers are bound to roam around walking miles. A bad shoe can simply turn your best travel opportunity into worst in no time.

8. Not keeping a first aid kit – This is something really important and mostly forgotten kind of a thing. At times we are so positive that nothing can happen and when the time comes we are the one who regret. Keep some medicines and bandages in your bag permanently and keep checking their expiry dates regularly. This takes just a minute but can add many years to your life when the time comes.

9. No miscellaneous items – I am talking about extra batteries, tools like a small knife or a lighter and stuff like that. Keep them with yourself. These items do not occupy huge space but can be useful in many ways. I always keep a lighter and a knife in my backpack.

10. Ignoring quality of backpack – I made a check list and put everything in my backpack and when I was about to leave it betrayed me. Friends, do not compromise on the quality of your backpack. It is the most essential tool for you to have a great travel experience. A backpack should be comfortable to carry yet durable to withstand the rough treatment and weight put into it.

Although I know that I am going to make these silly mistakes on my coming trip as well, but I hope you are more intelligent than me and you can avoid doing so.

I wish you all have a great travel experience wherever you go next.

By Prashant Rana