Backpackers Guide by:Derek Lakes
You will meet amazing people from all walks of life, learn a lot about yourself and make memories that will last forever, but whilst the most important thing to do is enjoy yourself you also need use your common sense and be prepared. A little forward planning could save you a lot of time, money and hassle.
Safety Travelling alone is probably more rewarding than going with friends, but make sure you let people know where you are. This isn't always possible down to exact location, but the general area or region means that if you are uncontactable for a few days, rescue services at least have a starting point.
Make your travelling companions, tour guide etc aware of any allergies you have and if you start to feel even slightly ill, give them a heads up. It may seem unimportant to you, but malaria and other tropical diseases often start out feeling like a cold.
Don't flash your camera, phone, MP3 player etc around. If you want to truly feel like a backpacker, you will need to fit in and this includes looking like the locals. This includes learning a little of the local language and customs. Also, don't walk about with a guide book because it will make you look like you have just stepped off the plane.
Money wise, the best thing to carry is US Dollars. Obviously you'll have local currency as well, but if you ever get into difficulty particularly in countries in Africa, Asia and South America, US currency will get you a lot further than anything else.
Photocopy your passport and keep it somewhere completely separate from your actual passport. If you do lose your passport or it gets stolen it's much easier and quicker to get a replacement if you have a photocopy with you.
If you are going to be in one country for a while, then buy a local pay as you go sim card. This means that mum and dad can call you and you won't have to foot the bill plus phone cards can also be used from these phones in many countries too. It also makes calling and texting your new friends a lot cheaper. Make sure before you leave the UK that your phone has been unlocked.
Install Skype on your home computer before you leave as many internet cafes in hostels, particularly in Australia and New Zealand now have this facility meaning you can call home completely free.
The best and cheapest way to see as much of the world as possible is to buy a round the world flight ticket. These are also some of the most flexible tickets you can buy where changing dates and flight routes will only set you back a minimal charge.
Some things are best done locally. This not only helps support local communities in the countries that need it most, but you can also save your money and retain much more flexibility. This is applicable to tours, transport and accommodation, but also to things like toiletries. Shampoo, deodorant, sun cream etc are heavy, and rather costly in the UK. So save luggage space as well as your hard-earned cash by buying them when you arrive. I'm sure you've heard stories about luggage being lost for days, so in case this happens to you, and with the amount of flying you are going to be doing the probably is greatly increased, keep a spare change of clothes and any medical supplies in your hand luggage.
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