I am not an expert on travel. But let me attempt to consolidate tips based on my wandering days domestically and abroad. And since my passion is geared towards backpacking, the tips are discussed by representing each letter of the word backpack. As an essential gear, I hope backpack will keep on reminding travelers of these tips.
B – Believe in yourself. Whether you are a first time backpacker or a seasoned globe-trotter, you need a degree of confidence to follow through every aspect of your travel plans. You could worry about the weather, canceled flights, immigration issues, peace and order situation on both places you come from and go to or any little changes that could undermine well-laid out itinerary. And sometimes when the departure day is approaching, pessimism would taunt and crumble your enthusiasm. Your coward side will use conscience to dissuade you from enjoying another land while siblings and parents are left behind, to spend for leisure while there might be hunger left lurking or to plan for more trips when other people don’t have the luxury to transport themselves to the next city. Embrace them all, both distractions and excitement. Acknowledge their presence and truthfulness, but at the end of the day, convince yourself that all will be well. Every decision has ramification, every trip is stricken with guilt-pleasure. So onward with the journey with a lightness of heart, purposely
enrich yourself with positive vibes.
A – Awareness of the place. Like soldiers in war, never go to a battlefield without being prepared. Research about the place you are going to visit. True, spontaneity is always welcome but spontaneity is not synonymous to foolishness. Never disregard the power of information. Seemingly trivial things like the weather, dress code, accessibility of the area, ethnicity in the neighborhood, events occurring in conjunction with your travel dates and many others are much amplified once you are in the area and can do less about it. A friend related to me her traffic experience in Bangkok, Thailand. She knew of the traffic situation since the city is infamous of it. What she didn’t know was the celebration of the King’s birthday falling on her departure date from Bangkok to another exotic city. The traffic worsened, she got stuck in the middle of it, and since she can’t summon wings to fly her to the airport in time, she had to overstay for a night. Did she learn anything from it? Her answer was a resounding yes, at the expense of her pocket.
C – Check your wallet. You’re right, I’m talking about money, budget, financial planning. It can also be understood as literally checking your wallet, keeping it away from pickpockets and straying hands. Once you are in a foreign land, attachment to money is imperative for you to easily get in and out of the area. But going back to the more important point, you need to tackle your trip as a major chunk of your monetary worth within a specific period of time. You can prepare a rough estimate of expenses for that trip, and assigned a generous percentage of contingency on top of the estimate. Then gauge if the amount can be accommodated in the actual money you have. Awareness of the place comes so handy in time of budgeting. Expenses would vary on choices available while preparing for the trip and once you arrived in the area. Will you choose a hostel over a 5-star accommodation? Is public transport accessible in going to a certain travel icon or would you spend extra for a guide and comfort? Will you scrimp on certain things but splurge on experiences unique or rare to that place? Your choice will determine how much you can throw away and how much you can keep for the next trip.
K – Kit. Call it first aid kit, medical kit, make-up kit. All in all, it amounts to a travel kit. Depending on your need, you will be bringing essential items catered to your trip. Toiletries top the list. You need to identify what needs to be packed and how much. If you are going to remote locations prone to insect-bearing illnesses, then bring lotions, creams or medicines to combat these parasites. If hiking or trekking is dominant in your itinerary, a generous amount of sunscreen will be needed. Collectively pack similar items in one container for ease and in accordance to airport rules. You won’t feel honored being detained in airport lines by a bottle of shampoo.
P – Photos and poses. I believe we all have that vain part of our personality. We love to see images of ourselves, more so if the image is against a backdrop of an overwhelming symbol of a sought-after country. Travelers are wanderers seeking for that rare charm, hoping to encapsulate beauty within the four sides of the camera lens. Some need to affirm their presence inside the lens, thereby marring the image’s perfection. Others are contented to simply take the raw image, pure just by itself. As passerby in this life, understand the urge to take as much pictures of the places you go to, most of the time with you at the center. Those are rare moments you have with the place before you go back to the reality of your home. You can’t take home those places with you. And as years go by, your memories of them fade but from time to time will be ignited with the visions conjured by your photographs. Your photos and your poses, these are the tangible treasure you kept from your journeys.
A – Ask the locals. Why do you travel? It is to see different places, to understand what makes one place different from another, and to determine whether after all the differences if there’s one aspect unifying people all over the world. The emphasis is on the people. When you travel, you learn how the local people would give credence to your journey. Interacting with them gives you a complete impression why the place is so. Beautiful sceneries, historic structures, awesome buildings, modern amenities, are can be similarly found but just in different places. It is when you mingle with the common folks and hear their stories that you can appreciate the place more. I once rode a wrong train to Kanchanaburi, Thailand. Somehow, the presence of local folks inside the train blocked fear from surfacing. I had a hunch they can point me to the right direction and the right train, regardless of the language barrier. I didn’t only arrive to the right destination. I also gained a companion for the whole train ride and formed an impression that Thais are really friendly and helpful.
C – Chill out. Relax. You are traveling, in vacation mode, basking in beauty and warmth of the day, so chill out. With so much to explore in a limited time, you might be tempted to put in as much activity as your itinerary can accommodate. So instead of enjoying each step of the way, you feel harassed. Then you’re off to your next day’s activity. With little rest and anticipating another hurried day, your journey becomes arduous, leaving a negative imprint of the place in your mind. You become irritable. It gravitates to a ripple effect. One cranky traveler can dismay another person on the road. And the whole point of travel which is to enjoy is set aside.
K – Kaleidoscopic world. Like a kaleidoscope, the world is a mixture of many different things and showcases a diverse collection of changing scenes. Travelers aim to witness such differences. They are open to the fact that one place is distinct from the other, but not necessarily less beautiful. Always the observer, travelers can point out eccentricities of a place. The irony of it, this strangeness beacons travelers to discover more of the place and to explore another realm. So when you travel, keep in mind that we are living in a kaleidoscopic world. And that you have so much to learn about by being open of each place’s rarities. The more you’re out there, the more you become tolerant and understanding of each other. Now you have reasons to affirm the worthiness of your travel.