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

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Be your own Travel Planner

One may spend countless nights and days to decide a destination they want to explore on their next vacation. In our busy lives we all do this because of shortage of time. Thinking about the next place to visit, the budget – air fare, food, expenditure on accommodation, money meant to be spent on gifts and presents while coming back and so on. Yet we sometimes end up with unexpected expenditure or some unanticipated situations which is enough to ruin our planning. Due to this most of us rely upon travel planners.

Travel agents, guides and personalities alike that are given authority to decide and tweak the way we should be traveling through our destination. Well, not a very good idea for me. I personally believe that we all have a unique sense of traveling and exploring a particular place, and for me interaction with the place is foremost important rather than just seeing the places mentioned in books and come back home as if we were there to play hide & seek with famous spots.

So, I would like to share some ideas here, I hope they turn out to be beneficial for you when you plan your travel next time: -

Air tickets

Travel planners and tourist agents often buy air tickets much earlier so when you need a ticket they can even give you one at a price much lower than a current rate. Now, this is not a rocket science in any manner, you can also do this and ultimately if your plan allows, you should do this only. Buy air tickets as soon as you set your plan to travel.

Time table

This is another easy thing that your travel planner would do on your behalf and charge you. If you go through a proper research about your destination over the internet and various travel magazines. It won’t take you  longer than 10-15 minutes to decide how you want to spend your time. Just be clear about your reason to travel to that place and stick to it. This way you don’t have to follow a guide like sheep. You can enjoy more at your place of interest and skip some other spot at your will. Now, that’s what I call freedom of exploration.


These days every details is available at your fingertips, just put a little strain on them and search for some hotels that suit your preferences and book room there. It is not as difficult as it seems, trust me. Every hotel is ready to welcome you when you express a desire to book a room in advance, just like any travel planner on planet earth does.

These were the things that are general in nature, but you can take a few extra steps and snatch the independence of your travel style from the hands of a travel planner, and this steps are: -

Map quest

Well maps play a vital role in having a vacation where you don’t get lost unintentionally. Download maps on your phones if you have that feature. If you think you are new to travel maps then simply start to use map of your own city and see how they exhibit details about your known place, this will help you to get accustomed with map language and symbols. If you do not own a smart phone or tablet, simply buy a map from the tourist office of the place you visit.


Well, in this era of internet we all have friends spread over the globe. Get in touch online with some people from the place you wish to visit and discuss your plans briefly with them, see what have to say and suggest you.

In my journeys, all these steps have served me good enough to make my trips memorable; I hope these little points would help you to avoid paying to a travel agent. What you should keep in mind to explore a place in your own unique way is that
  1. Don’t take second hand suggestions. Copy pasted information is of no use. So, if someone is telling you long stories with no connection to your point of interest just chuck it.
  2. Don’t pile on information too much, leave a little scope for the unexpected and enjoy as your destination gradually starts to flaunt its true colors only for your eyes.
  3. Always keep your phone, internet connection and other communication tools charged because sometimes these miscellaneous expenditures can disturb your budget.
  4. keep asking your hotel staff and other people you get to interact with about local modes of transport that are safe and cheaper.

I hope you connect with your destination in your very own special way, so that it adds on to your stories for years to come.

P.S. I am not against an idea of taking help from a professional travel planner; if it suits your needs always go for it. the enjoyment is in the heart not in following a notion. 

by Prashant Rana