Right now (literally), I am planning for our next backpacking trip. Destination: Southeast Asia!!! Oh, how planning and preparing for this tour around SE Asia brings back memories of the first time we planned for our backpacking tour around Europe.
Doing this over again was so much fun. Who knew I loved event-planning! Anyways, thanks to our first trial around Europe, I know what to look for and what to skip over, and for that, I save so many hours of searching and searching. This time around, I learned how to make quick, efficient decisions without (much) hesitation.
Even though we still have a few more things to plan before our SE Asia tour begins (in 10 days!!!) I decided to share all my top secrets of how I plan and prepare for our backpacking trips. Hopefully, you can benefit from some of them! 🙂
First off, before I even begin piecing together a backpacking tour, I first dream about where I can go considering my current situation. That last bit is really important! For example, I have been living in Nepal since July 2015. I am right next door to Southeast Asian countries which are well-known backpacker routes.
Even though I do not have tons of money to spend right now this moment, I consider backpacking SE Asia now as an investment. And by that I mean, backpacking now (despite my near-empty bank account) requires much less money to travel around these countries than it would be if I decided to put off this tour until I had more money (which would be much later in life and would most likely require a round-trip expensive flight). Since my current situation puts me so close to these countries, why not take advantage?
With that being said, pick a backpacking route where you can easily get to without having to spend a fortune from flying across the world to do it. Seize opportunities whenever possible!
Pick a place
Where do you want to go? If you are in the US, for example, you could consider backpacking cross-country, hiking the Appalachian Trail, hitting all the major cities or national parks – just consider a place that you have never been, but want to go, and somewhere that is a reasonable distance to travel to/fro.
Side note: I only backpacked Europe because I had been living in France and I had free time at the end of my study abroad year. This time around, I am backpacking SE Asia before going home to the US because I quit school and my job here in Kathmandu, which yes, coincidentally left me with less money, but beneficially, more time. And thanks to this free time, I now have the opportunity to backpack around SE Asia. Yay!
Have you picked your place? Usually, when I choose a backpacking route, I do some research to see which cities/places/attractions I want to visit. For example, we are traveling through Siem Reap, Cambodia, not because I knew about the city itself, but because we had been wanting to visit the ancient Angkor Wat temples for quite some time now.
Decide on a budget
Though I don’t do this in any particular order, it’s nonetheless very important to choose your budget. So though I like to dream about the backpacking route first, that dream always gets fine-tuned by my budget… and by reality. 😉
The best way to decide on a budget is to do some research first. There are lots of resources out there to help you determine the average cost per day in a specific country. For example, we originally wanted to debut this backpacking tour in Singapore, and then work our way up from there. But then things changed once I read several sources that gave an estimate of what a day in Singapore would cost: an average of $40-50 per day. That was double what my budget allows. So basically visiting Singapore would have to wait, for now.
You could also plan your backpacking trip by first using your budget to determine where you go, what you do, and how long you do it. Are you saying, “I have $500? Where can I go, what can I do?” Then go, go, go! There is not only one approach to planning a backpacking adventure.
For how long?
“For how long?” might be a question you will often be asked while planning and preparing for your backpacking trip. In fact, it’s even a question you should ask yourself!
Choose how long you would like your backpacking trip to be. The sooner you decide, the clearer your daily expenses will be. If you need to be strict on time, deciding to leave for 12 days (for example) will also help determine which/how many countries, cities, attractions, landmarks, etc., you can reasonably see within that allotted amount of time.
Otherwise, if you plan your backpacking trip to be more or less spontaneous and flexible (which is quite ironic, no?), you could always decide on backpacking for roughly two weeks or one month, and then adjust the countries/places you visit and how long you will be there, based on your budget. Did you have a coup de cœur with Italy? Thailand? England?
Then if your budget + time allows for it, why not be flexible and explore the place further! The options are endless.
That’s what is so great about backpacking trips! You can plan and prepare it a million ways if you’d like.
Where will you go next? What do you want to see and do? One thing I love about traveling is that your experience of it is unique, even if you visit the same attraction like thousands of other tourists do each year. It’s your experience, your perception, your thoughts, your feelings, and your adventure that make it all unique.
I love discovering travel through backpacking. How do you like to travel? Share your thoughts & comments with me below!
Are you a student and love to travel? You may want to check this out… Read how to travel while in college.