Backpacking is popular for the young adult crowd travelling on a budget. It is not without risks, something made worse by the lack of resources and mindset of the backpackers who may still be new to independence. Advice can help here.
Matters are easier today with the internet. Always research your destinations beforehand. Look for anything that other travellers have considered a scam. Also look for what they recommend; there is always some worthwhile foreign site that gets minimal publicity; it’s terrible to get home and find you missed something significant.
The advantages of the internet can also work against you; there are numerous scams and illegitimate sites online. Look for any ulterior motive when offered services, and remember that offers too good to be true are probably false. This especially applies to accommodation; sometimes booked rooms don’t exist, and you already paid for them. Look for what returning travellers recommend.
Check very passport and visa situation. Arrange this before you leave. Some countries allow you to say a certain number of weeks or months without a visa, others do not. Woking in another country is usually impossible unless you have a (often special) visa that allows this.
Get travel insurance. If you can’t afford this, you need to delay the trip till you have saved more money. Accidents are very expensive, and some countries do not even provide cover to their own citizens. Travel insurance is essential; at least look into the minimal and cheapest options.
Get a good credit card or two, from a bank that lets you withdraw overseas. Some banks have branches in foreign countries, or affiliated banks. Ask the bank about the countries you will travel in – they can advise the best deal. This will save you considerable amounts on transaction and withdrawal fees.
You can often hire mobile phones overseas, which will be cheaper than using you Australian phone when travelling. Else, you can buy a local prepaid SIM card. Remember, you may need the Australian phone in the airport when you return.
Print out hard copies of any maps before you go. Internet connections may not work everywhere. You can dispose of these as you leave each site.
You always accumulate luggage and souvenirs. Compensate for is by taking disposable items from home. Buy cheap socks, underwear and shirts; you can abandon these on you last day and use the extra room in your backpack.
Take a photo of your passport and any other document with your mobile phone. Email copies of these photos to you email address. Even if you have everything stolen you will be able to access your details online.
Never leave drinks or luggage unattended; spiking drinks and planting drugs in luggage is a real problem. Some ‘soft drugs’ carry very heavy penalties in some countries. Drinking ages are higher in some countries; Australians under 21 are breaking the law if they drink alcohol in places such as the USA.
Hitchhiking is dangerous no matter where you are. Always avoid this.
Leave contact information and a travel plan with trusted friends and relatives back home. Update them with email as often as possible.
If you use an airport shuttle Sydney based Plan B shuttle is recommended. Money is always tight when traveling, but so are schedules. A small group using a shuttle works out cheaper than most alternatives, and makes sure you don’t miss your flight.