Thinking About Backpacking? Make Sure to Do These 5 Things First

Whether you’ve decided to backpack around the globe for a week, a month, or for the next two years, the experience will no doubt be a life-changing one. You have booked your one-way ticket, started packing, and begun saying your goodbyes. You’re almost ready.

Before you leave to begin seeing the world, don’t forget that all of your travel belongings are housed on your back, with only a zipper and a few buttons guarding it from the world – and, these important items are prone to constant threats while traveling. Here are 5 things you should do before boarding your plane and starting your adventure!

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1. Gather an “emergency passport kit” that includes photocopies of passports/visas, birth certificates, IDs, and other essential information.

While it may sound simple, it’s a detail often overlooked. Regardless of the length of your trip, remember to make photocopies (color copies, if possible) of all important documents. These include your passport, visas (if applicable), identification, driver’s licenses, credit cards, and even your birth certificate. This “kit” could become incredibly useful if your passport is lost or stolen while abroad. Be sure to separate these documents and keep them safe.

2. Take out insurance policies for valuable items.

Though taking expensive valuables with you on your backpacking trip is a personal decision, there’s no denying that bringing your laptop, camera, and phone is pretty common while traveling. If you decide to bring these along, consider taking out an insurance policy – such as personal articles policies or cell phone insurance – on these valuables, in the event of damage or theft. These could be lifesavers if anything were to happen.

3. Exchange foreign currency from your bank at home first, and split it between your bags.

Due to high exchange rates and general inconvenience, it’s better to exchange or withdraw money when you arrive at your destination country. But, it’s always helpful (and substantially less stressful) to touch-down in a country and have a bit of currency available to you immediately. Obviously, carrying too much cash on you is dangerous, but getting a small amount beforehand may be worth the effort.

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4. Check out cell phone options for calls, messaging, and data usage.

While the idea of going off the grid for a couple months may be really appealing, it’s definitely a good idea to start researching possible cell phone plans (whether offered by your cell carrier or a SIM card option available in your destination country, for example) before traveling. Depending on WiFi for communications may be an option, but just remember that this also makes navigation, research, calls, and messaging more difficult while on-the-go. Be smart about having resources at your disposal, especially if you’re solo-traveling in a country that speaks your non-native language.

5. Be sure to get a handy language translator, just in case you can’t use your apps while you’re in a pinch.

Just like with navigation, translations may be difficult if your technology is dependent on having WiFi. Purchasing a small pocket-book translator could be incredibly useful in case you find yourself in a situation without a phone, internet connection, or other means of communicating what you need.

How did you prepare for your own backpacking trip? Please share with us in the comments section below!