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Backpacking – 10 Things you Should Avoid Doing

Backpacking is fantastic isn’t it? Nothing quite like the thrill when your adventure starts at the airport. However, there are way too many things that backpackers and doing some of these things could seriously ruin your trip. Backpacking is almost always a positive experience and it’s important to make sure that on your travels you are aren’t making stupid decisions.

1. Travel Without a Backpack

It really is in the name, you are BACKPACKING after all. It might seem like it’s difficult to travel around having to constantly keeping your stuff on your back. If you have only ever travelled without a suitcase, the sudden change can also be daunting. The reality is that travelling with a backpack makes everything easier. As long as you take a sensible amount of stuff, you’ll realise how much easier it is.

2. Only Staying in Hostels

Staying in a hostel is a fundamental part of the backpacker experience. If you’re really trying to travel on a budget, it of course makes sense that you would almost exclusively book hostels for your trip. If you want to save even more money, you can see if your friends who live abroad can put you up. Although, it’s not what it used to be, you can also use Couchsurfing as an important resource.

Moreover, if you’re willing to spend the money, I’d recommend staying in a hotel every so often. It’s inevitable that you’ll get sick of constantly being in the hostel atmosphere and want your own space. Depending on where you are, hotels won’t always be super expensive. For example, when I was in Colombia, I paid £10 a night to stay in quite a decent hotel.

3. Taking a Taxi When you Don’t Need to

There are instances when you may need to take a taxi. For example, when you’ve just arrived at the airport and you feel kind of lost. It’s also valid to take take a taxi if it’s late at night and you don’t want to take any risks. I took a few taxis when I was in Colombia and Guatemala as it felt like the only safe way to get around at night. That being said, I don’t recommend taking a taxi when there is the option of public transport.

Taking public transport will be a tenth of the price and can sometimes even be quicker than relying on a taxi. I would also say that using public transport in cities is also an essential part of the backpacking experience. It’s a way of experiencing the culture of the country you’re in. Furthermore, if you take a taxi every day of your trip, that will be a serious expense within your budget.

4. Trusting Strangers on the Street too Much

If you’re a tourist in a heavily-visited city, there’s a chance that scammers will try to take advantage of you. These people will introduce themselves and come across as really nice at first and then all of a sudden will become aggressive in demanding some money for doing nothing. A good example of this is the bracelet scam which is common in Italy. It works by them giving you a “free” bracelet and then demanding you give them at least 5 euros.

The truth is that in cities with lots of tourists, the everyday people will be too busy living their lives to be interacting with tourists. If a stranger is being too friendly to you, there’s a chance they just want money off you. Although, it’s not always the case, some people might be curious about you or help if you’re lost. So it’s important not to be too paranoid, just wary.

5. Only Going to Well-Known Destinations

If you’re just going to visit places like Cancún or Bali, you might be underwhelmed by how these places actually are. Flying halfway across the world just to visit places that aren’t too remarkable won’t make your backpacking adventures memorable. The thing is, many of these places don’t have much authenticity and are a sanitised version of the country for tourists.

Most of my favourite places have been the ones that people don’t tend talk about wanting to visit. For example, I had an absolute blast in Lake Ohrid and Belgrade has to be one of my favourite cities.

Belgrade the beautiful

6. Eating at Restaurants Every Night

While backpacking different countries around the world, it’s understandable to want to try the local food. Some of the best places to do that are of course at the restaurants that people recommend you check out. You will feel like Anthony Bourdain when you tuck into some local food at one of the best places in town. I’m not against doing this myself as it’s essential to sample some of the best local food.

It’s important to consider that your trip will be very expensive if you’re dining out every night. A good way to save money massively is to head to a supermarket to get your dinner. Visiting a supermarket can be a great way of getting an insight into the food culture of a country.

7. Dress Like an Obvious Tourist

Knowing what not to wear is an essential part of making sure you will have a good time travelling. If you’re going to somewhere like Bangkok and are wearing something like hiking gear, it’s not going to end well. If you’re going to be exploring a city, it’s best to wear nothing that would make you look out of place. Looking like an obvious backpacker makes you a magnet for scammers and people trying to rip you off. If you make yourself look like someone who has been there for quite some time, you might not attract so much attention.

Don’t dress like this

8. Being Afraid to Stay in Hostels

If you haven’t stayed in a hostel before, it might sound daunting at first. Sharing a room with 8 random strangers sounds like a nightmare. However, I can tell you that staying in a hostel is not bad at all. Most hostels actually do have comfortable beds and some of them can actually look like really cool places. Staying in hostels also means you can meet other travellers and it’s even possible to become really good friends with them.

Ensuring world peace at Whole Wide World Hostel in Zagreb

9. Doing Things you Wouldn’t do at Home

Being in a new environment is exciting, but it’s very important to net let your guard down. I really recommend against doing things which would seriously put you in danger. It’s important to remember that even if you’re a tourist, the laws of the country you’re in still apply to you. So in short, just don’t do anything daft or your trip will be completely ruined.

10. Thinking You’re Better Than Everyone

I get it, backpacking for a couple of weeks can feel like a life-changing experience. You might think that you have become a more interesting person now that you have a few stories to tell. However, it doesn’t mean you should think of your friends who just go on simple holidays to Majorca as “peasants.” Remember that travel is a massive luxury that very few people in the world can afford. There is also no correct way to spend valuable time for travelling. People who work tough jobs might not get much time off, so the best for them may just be to lounge at the beach in Spain.

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