Shoving a backpack on your shoulders and taking your first steps on a journey through the wilderness is a daunting prospect. It can be fraught with disaster and discomfort if you’re not careful. On the other hand, it can be the most rewarding experience in your life, broadening your horizons and showing you what you’re really made of. Here’s how you stack the odds in the favor of the latter outcome.
Before you go
A lot of the mistakes you can make with backpacking are going to be made before you even go. For instance, make sure you tell someone not only that you’re going, but every location you plan on stopping at. As for what you’re taking with you, be smart with your space. Try and pack as many multi-utility tools as possible. Don’t pack a knife and a corkscrew if you have a Swiss army knife. Don’t pack a bunch of books if you have a Kindle. Be space smart.
Always have somewhere to sleep
One of the tools you need to absolutely make sure you have on you is somewhere to sleep. The most space effective way to get sleep on the road is to bring a hammock. But don’t forget some of the essentials on top of it that will make that hammock a viable option. TheHammockLab.com, for instance, stresses the importance of rain covers and mosquito nets among others.
Meet some friendly faces
If you’re not careful, backpacking can be made a very sobering experience. It’s good to have those moments of introspection and connection with nature. We are social creatures, however, and it pays to remind yourself of that sometimes. You should consider apps like Backpackr.org to meet people just like you on your journeys. You might even consider spending some time with locals on your journey. Just make sure you’re smart about your safety.
Indeed, when you meet anyone overseas, make sure it’s in a public place with plenty of eyes on it. You should feel free to have a good time, but keep your wits about you. Don’t accept any drinks and be careful about drinking in company in general. Don’t follow anyone to somewhere that you been or somewhere that isn’t public. Keep your possessions safe, too. You can buy bands that can connect your phone, your wallet, and your backpack directly to you. Your safety is paramount.
Make something to remember
One of the best tips you can receive about backpacking is to make the effort to document your travels. You might write about it, you might collect postcards, or you might take a ton of snaps. It doesn’t matter what method you use. It matters that you’re capturing those moments you want to always remember. It also serves as an incentive to find even better locations and moments to give yourself something worth recording.
Most important of all the tips above is ensuring your safety. So long as you’re safe, even a misstep or a mistake on your journey can make it. Don’t be afraid to feel that you’ve lost control now and then. It makes the adventure.