7. Talk to people
Often, backpackers can end up in one of two camps: ‘I will only speak English to English-speaking people and this is how I will travel’ or the ‘I want to talk to anyone but English-speaking people as I am cultured and whatnot’. Both camps are fairly flawed. Only speaking to people from where you are from will vastly limit your experience – you may come back knowing everything about New York, Sydney or Dublin, but that’s not exactly useful when you have been travelling around the Balkans for a month. Part of the fun is battling with language barriers and learning from other people. Similarly, avoiding all other tourists will stop you from getting sage travel advice, whether it be what restaurant does the cheapest food or which hostel in town throws the best party.
8. Make the most of a destination
You will spend a lot of time stuck in trains and buses watching beautiful scenery pass by. When you finally reach your destination make the most of being your own boss. Avoid public transport where possible and walk everywhere. You’ll discover things you would never have found otherwise like amazing street art, quirky shops and cool cafes. Or rent a bike for the day and venture out into the country. Take in as much of the location as you can before you have to move on.
When you return
9. Don’t bore people
Yes you have been on the trip of lifetime and you have many amazing stories of romance, adventure and excitement… but for those back home, seeing the perhaps overly frequent Facebook updates and Instagrammed sunsets were enough. When people ask about your trip stick to ‘it was amazing, thanks’ plus one quick anecdote – if they want to know more they’ll ask. After all, you don’t travel to brag, or at least you shouldn’t do.
10. Document your memories
You’ll have collected hundreds of scraps of paper, napkins, beer caps, photographs, tickets and memories over your trip. Rather than leave them lying at the bottom of your rucksack why not use them to make a scrapbook? Or if your memories are stored in a more digital format, why not compile them into a video of photos, stop motion images and videos with that song that made the trip as the sound track? And always bring back a memento, whether it be a small thing like a fan from your trip around Andalucía, or a kimono from your stay in Tokyo. It’s a good talking point for when you have people round to brag… sorry, catch up after your long trip away.
Got any of your own backpacking advice? Leave a comment below.