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If you are looking for a grand adventure, then a well-planned backpacking trip is the best way to find it because there is nothing quite like taking the long trail up a mountainside or through a gorgeous forest. However, while it may seem easy to just buy a backpack and start walking, there are many considerations and things you must do to prepare for a backpacking trip.

We are here to help. Whether you are an experienced hiker or you are just starting out, we have some great tips and pieces of advice that can be lifesavers during your next backpacking trip.

Prepping Before the Trip

If you are preparing for your first backpacking trek, then you will want to take some time to get your body and mind in tip-top shape so you don’t get out there to find out that you weren’t truly prepared. For starters, you will need to choose the right backpack.

If you are planning a long hike, then you will need to buy a pack that has all of the essential elements, including a top-loading design, extra pockets, and a water bladder pocket so you can always stay hydrated. Try on different packs and make sure that it is comfortable because you’ll have it on your back for long periods of time. 

Next, you will need to get in shape and prepare your body for the long journey backpacking. You are going to want to practice by walking a lot in the months and/or weeks leading up to your hike.

You will want to aim for at least 10,000 steps a day. Once you get used to the motion, you’ll need to kick it up a notch by walking up and down hills or stairs so you can get your body used to that movement. As a final step, add weight to your backpack and walk with it a lot until you build up your muscles.

As part of your training, you will want to find and purchase shoes or boots that are comfortable and durable enough to last throughout your adventure without falling apart or hurting your feet.

When shopping for boots, make sure to try them on before you buy. You’ll want to find boots that are snug around your entire foot but not too tight, and you should have a little bit of wiggle room for your toes.

You do not want them to be loose, or they could end up hurting your feet. Once you find what you need, wear them during your training.

Understand How to Prevent Risks While on the Backpacking Trip

It is important for both new backpackers and seasoned pros to brush up on the common risks and dangers that can occur out on the trail because if you are always prepared and you understand the potential dangers, then backpacking can be a very peaceful endeavor.

For starters, you never know when someone will trip or get hurt in some way, so it is essential to be protective and pack a first aid kit. Your kit should include basic hiking materials, such as gauze, bandages, sanitizer, and sunscreen, along with any necessary medications.

A common threat that can become a reality during a hike is the potential of ticks and other pests. It is important to know how to combat and prevent ticks, which includes wearing long pants, using insect repellant, always staying on the designated trail, and avoiding walking through long grass whenever possible.

Make it a point to stop at regular durations throughout your hike to check for ticks. Always look at the common hiding places, such as the back of the knees, between your legs, and around your waist. 

You will want to have a pair of tweezers in your first aid kit, and if you find a tick, use them to pull the head of the pest upward using even pressure. Once you are sure it is removed, clean the area with antiseptic.

It is also a wise idea to research the trail ahead of time, so you don’t run the risk of getting lost or becoming stressed. If information is available, then get a general idea of the course that your trail will take and always follow all posted signage. Make sure that your phone is fully charged, and bring an extra charger so you can call for help if necessary.

What You Eat and Drink is Essential

How you fuel your body before and during the backpacking trip is incredibly important, so you have the physical strength to get through your journey. As you prepare for a backpacking trip, make an effort to change your diet and avoid the fast foods and overly sugary treats that can hinder your body and prevent you from enduring extensive periods of activity. 

Continue this diet up until the day of the hike. In the morning, make sure that you have a smart and solid breakfast. This is truly the most important meal of the day because by including fruit, dairy, and whole grains, you get the essential nutrients that your body needs, which helps to control your blood sugar levels, manage your weight, and most importantly, provide a natural energy boost to keep you going during the hike. You should bring other nutritious snacks like granola and trail mix so you can stay nourished and energized until the end.

Of course, you also need to drink plenty of water during your expedition. By staying hydrated, you replace the fluids that you flush out by sweating, and drinking water also helps you to stay alert. As a general rule, try to drink a half-liter of water for every hour of walking in moderate temperatures. 

As you can see, there is a lot to consider before you head up the trail during your next backpacking expedition. Follow the guidance provided here, and you will stay in great shape during your next adventure.

Meditation has been tagged with some interesting stereotypes over the years. Many people think you have to be in a dark, quiet room with your legs crossed and eyes closed, doing some kind of “ohm” chant to meditate properly.

That’s just not true.

Meditation can take many forms – including hiking and backpacking. If those are hobbies you already love, it’s time to consider how they can help you feel re-centered and reduce your stress levels while you’re on the trail.

Many spiritual leaders have touted the effectiveness of walking meditation, and you can apply those principles to your hikes by being more mindful on each journey. If you’ve never meditated before, it can take some practice to connect physical activity to a clearing of the mind. But, hiking is already a great way to improve your mental and physical health. Adding meditation to your walks can help you feel more connected with the earth, and yourself.

Let’s cover some of the benefits of hiking as meditation and how you can set clear intentions for your treks.

The Benefits of a Mindful Hike

There’s no question that simply spending time in nature is good for your health. It reduces stress and anxiety and can offer a boost of energy. Taking things one step further (no pun intended) through walking meditation can offer even greater benefits to your physical and mental well-being. Some of the “perks” you can expect from being more mindful on your hikes include:

  • Increased blood flow
  • Improved digestion
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Improved circulation
  • Better sleep quality
  • Enhanced balance

Walking meditation also helps with symptoms of depression and anxiety and can boost your creativity levels if it feels like you’ve been in a slump lately. Combining mindfulness with regular outdoor exercise, like hiking, is also a fantastic way to naturally boost testosterone levels (which can decrease with age). That will lead to a clearer mind and greater physical awareness while also promoting strength and vitality.

How to Meditate On the Trail

Ready to give hiking as meditation a try for yourself?

Again, you don’t have to worry about specific chants or keeping your eyes closed while you walk – that would probably do more harm than good with trees around! Walking meditation is easier than you might think. Try the following steps to break down the process until it becomes more familiar.

  1. Find a spot on the trail or a clearing in a wooded area that will allow you to freely walk back and forth about 10 to 15 feet.
  2. Stroll throughout that area slowly as you breathe deeply and take in your surroundings.
  3. Take slow, intentional, mindful steps, and focus on sensations that you usually don’t notice. That could include how your feet and legs feel while moving, or the rhythm of your breathing. It could even include the gentle “thud” your feet make with each step. The more you focus on yourself and the world around you at that moment, the more mindful and present you’ll be.

You may have other thoughts come to mind. That’s out of your control, and you don’t have to work to “block” those thoughts out. There’s nothing you can do to prevent both positive and negative ideas from entering your mind, but think of them like clouds passing by. Don’t hold onto them, and do your best to refocus on the present.

You can continue to be mindful throughout your hike, paying attention to how your body feels with each step forward while also observing the sights, sounds, and smells of your surroundings. It’s a wonderful way to manage your anxiety while hiking and to feel more relaxed by the time you’re finished.

Staying Safe

While meditating on a hike is a wonderful way to feel more connected with the earth and your natural surroundings, it’s important not to bite off more than you can chew. If you’re new to hiking, familiarize yourself with certain trails and build up your strength and stamina before you try to meditate on your journey. You’ll still enjoy wonderful mental and physical health benefits, simply by exercising in nature.

Additionally, if you deal with chronic pain or you’re trying to recover from an injury, use a pain scale to determine if you’re ready to be active again. Pushing through the pain or trying to force yourself to get back on the trail can end up hindering your performance. You’ll also be so focused on that pain that it will be nearly impossible to be mindful and present.

Whether you’re just getting into hiking or you’ve been hitting the trail for years, there are more benefits than we could ever think to list here. Using hiking as meditation, however, adds to that list and can help you feel more in tune with the world around you while reducing your stress levels. If you’re ready for that step, try to introduce walking meditation into your next hike.

With 2022 full of hope, it’s time to dust off your backpack and think about where to go next. If you’re on a budget, you may be wondering about the cheapest backpacking destinations in the world. The thing is, especially if you’ve been aching to get back out there, ‘budget travel’ can be a bit of an oxymoron. People go traveling to see something new, and once it finally becomes possible to go backpacking in 2022, the last thing you want to do is restrict yourself.

The way to travel on a budget without feeling too limited is to go backpacking destinations where food, accommodation, and transport are cheap. This will allow you to stretch your budget and splurge on the occasional special activity to get the most out of your trip. The good news is, after you figure out a cheap way to get to your destination, it is possible to travel around some of the most beautiful destinations on earth for less than $20 a day. Believe it or not, it can sometimes be cheaper to be on the road than to stay at home considering your normal rent and daily expenses! 

So without further ado, here is our updated list of the cheapest backpacking destinations for 2022.

Bulgaria – The best Eastern European country for budget travel

Even though Bulgaria is the cheapest backpacking destination to visit in Eastern Europe, it has an abundance of gorgeous landscapes that rival its neighbors. During our 5 days in Bulgaria were able to see Alpine mountains, forested countryside, sandy beaches on the Black Sea, plus beautiful cities like Sofia and Veliko Tărnovo.

The Rila Monastery near Sofia in Bulgaria, one of the cheapest backpacking countries in the world

The Rila Monastery near Sofia, Bulgaria

Because we were traveling in the off season, we were able to splurge on the occasional high-end luxury accommodation for less than $100 a night. Of course, you can always find cheaper hostels in Bulgaria. Food and drink are also super affordable, with the average price of a beer being about a dollar.

Learn more: Backpacking in Bulgaria

India

India is one of those countries where budget travel is almost entirely dependent on your willingness to haggle. If you strike the right tone, India can be one of the cheapest backpacking destinations in the world.

When booking guesthouses, you’ll most certainly get a better price by booking directly with the guest house versus booking online through an agency. Transportation-wise, it is super cheap to get around in India. In the big cities, we recommend using Uber it’s actually much cheaper than the prices you’ll be quoted for a tuk-tuk ride. For intercity travel, trains cost between $8 – $30, and you can even find flights within that price range!

Learn more: Backpacking in India

Portugal – The cheapest backpacking destination in Western Europe

Portugal is a great option in Western Europe for travelers on a budget. You’ll be able to experience the vibrant European culture as well as world-famous food and wine at a fraction of the cost of what you’d pay in France or Spain. 

Learn more: Backpacking in Portugal

Cambodia

Cambodia has so much to offer, and you can travel there for about $20 a day. Private rooms in a nice guesthouse will cost you about $10, and tuk-tuk rides are a savvy way to get around. Our guest house helped us arrange a private tuk-tuk driver to help us visit the many temples of Angkor Wat for just $12!  You can even get a 30-day SIM card with 1.5 GB of data for $2.

Ta Prohm Temple in the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Cambodia, one of the cheapest backpacking countries

Ta Prohm Temple in the Angkor Wat Temple Complex

Learn more: Backpacking in Cambodia

Georgia

With medieval fortresses, majestic mountains, and friendly locals, the country of Georgia should be much higher on the list of top backpacking destinations. And with delicious meals starting at $3, and $1 local buses, it’s one of the best countries for budget travel. You don’t have to withhold on the cultural activities here, since most entrance tickets cost around $2.

The Caucasus Mountains in Georgia

The Caucasus Mountains in Georgia

Learn more: Backpacking in Georgia

The Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic, the old trope ‘beer is cheaper than water’ is actually true. While the Czech Republic boasts much of the same beauty as its neighbors like Germany and Austria, it’s possible to travel here at a fraction of the cost.

Learn more: Backpacking in the Czech Republic

Bolivia – the cheapest backpacking destination in South America

Bolivia is one of the cheapest backpacking destinations in the world and is very popular with adventurers. Here, it is possible to get a 3-course meal for less than $2. Accommodation in a hostel dorm room costs between $8-$12 a night, and local and long-distance buses are a cheap way to get around. Even the most famous backpacker destination in Bolivia, the Uyuni Salt Flats, won’t break the bank, costing around $200 for 3 days, which is relatively cheap for this bucket-list destination!

Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia

Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia

Learn more: Backpacking in Bolivia

Nepal

Trekking in Nepal doesn’t have to cost as much as you might imagine. Other than the Everest Base Camp Trek (an exorbitant expense), there are plenty of beautiful Himalayan treks where it is possible to go by yourself. The Short Annapurna Circuit, for example, is well-marked with guesthouses along the path for about $5 a night, so you won’t have to carry tons of gear. (If you want to go all the way to Annapurna Base Camp, you’ll need to go with a guide). Food and drink in Nepal are also very affordable, with meals costing between $2-$3.

Learn more: Backpacking in Nepal

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is certainly one of those countries where you can travel on a budget or live in the lap of luxury for relatively affordable prices. Their infamous train system (a bucket-list item in itself) is the cheapest way to get around the country. Or, you could hire a private taxi to travel between cities with a few other people from your hostel. Keep a special travel budget set aside for entrance fees to nature reserves and UNESCO Heritage sites!

Learn more: Backpacking in Sri Lanka

Colombia

Colombia is one of our favorite backpacking destinations because of the friendly locals, diverse landscapes, and of course, affordability. You could easily backpack in Colombia for a month with just $1000 in your bank account. By taking long-distance buses, staying in hostel dorm rooms, and cooking your own food in the hostel kitchens, you can visit destinations like Medellín, Cartagena, and Salento on a budget.

The Cocora Valley near Salento, Colombia

The Cocora Valley near Salento, Colombia

Learn more: Backpacking in Colombia

Honorable Mention

Denmark

This country certainly doesn’t scream ‘budget travel’ but it’s the cheapest destination in Scandinavia. If visiting this part of the world has been a dream of yours, we can definitely recommend Denmark in comparison with its more expensive Scandinavian neighbors Norway, Sweden, or Finland.

Nyhavn Canal in Copenhagen, Denmark, one of the cheapest backpacking countries in Scandinavia

Nyhavn Canal in Copenhagen, Denmark

Learn more: Backpacking in Denmark

 

Most travelers dream of hitting the road with the most essentials packed into the lightest load. When planning to travel with only the necessities on your back, deciding what you need to bring on your trip can be an overwhelming process.

You shouldn’t carry too much unnecessary weight on your back or worse, heavy items that take up so much space that you miss out on packing essentials such as sunblock, insect repellant, or your handy pocket knife.

So before you hit the road, run through your backpacking checklist and start filling it up with some of this essential gear.

If you are a first-time backpacker, one of the most important things to start early on is a visa, and if you’re traveling to a neighboring country or going on an expedition with a group of people, it is important that all your travel documents are correctly collated.

Check iVisa.com to apply for your eVisa and Health Declaration.

Here is a list of items that you can pack that will make your trip a light one:

A durable backpack

Your backpack has to fit your body (height and torso length) properly and brave the elements like rain, dust, and a heavy fall if need be. Also, make sure to get a bag that has many zip-up pockets and compartments for optimal packing.

Sleeping bag

Sleeping bags come in a variety of sizes, either spacious or streamlined, and a wide range of materials. For a backpacker traveler, sleep is very important, so you won’t sleep well if you’re cold, so consider these key factors when picking one:

  • Rate of temperature: you should pick a sleeping bag rated a bit lower than the typical low temperatures you anticipate.
  • Insulation type: The big choice is between down or synthetic. Synthetic offers solid performance at an affordable price, but down is more sought after because it’s lighter and more compressible.
  • Weight: The quality of your insulation and the cut of your bag are big factors. When you are comparing weights also compare bags with a similar temperature rating.

First-Aid Kit and Toiletry Bag

Your personal hygiene and safety should come first, so your toiletries and first-aid kit are very important. Make sure to pack a bar of soap, disinfectant, hand sanitizer, toothbrush, and toothpaste, toilet paper, wipes, moisturizer, as well as any prescription medications you may need. Take along an SPF-rated sunscreen and lip balm.

Clothing and footwear

When packing clothing, pack according to the predicted weather. Keep in mind that gentle hikes on smooth trails usually require hiking shoes or trail runners while steep hikes on rocky, rugged trails will likely require a sturdy pair of hiking boots.

If you are planning a backpacking trip in the near future, then it is vital that you prepare yourself to ensure that you are completely safe while travelling. To ensure you have a memorable and enjoyable time on your trip, you should take a look at the following travel safety tips for backpackers. This will provide you with all the information you need to feel secure when abroad. 

Always plan ahead

One of the most important steps for safe travel should occur well before you step on the plane, starting with your passport. Before you do anything, make sure you check the expiry date on your passport, as an out-of-date passport will not be accepted in any airport around the world.

Checking your travel documents is one of the most important travel safety tips

Some countries require travellers to have at least six months left on their passport from the entrance date. If your passport has run out or you have less than six months until the expiry, make sure you apply for a new passport at least three months before travelling to be on the safe side.

You may also require a visa to gain admittance into the country you are visiting. Of course, this will depend on where in the world you are travelling to, as some destinations are more lenient than others.

One country that does require a visa is the United States. If you are taking a backpacking trip to the US, you will need to obtain an ESTA before your trip. This applies to 38 countries, including the UK, EU countries, Australia, New Zealand and more. If your country is not listed, you will need to apply for a B-2 tourist visa which will grant you six months of travel access across the US. 

Protect yourself

When backpacking, you protect yourself at all times. This is especially important right now, with the COVID pandemic spreading around the world. While travel is restricted, there will be a time when borders are lifted, and backpacking trips will begin again.

When this occurs, you need to ensure that you maintain excellent hygiene standards by washing your hands regularly and keeping a compact hand sanitiser nearby at all times. It would help if you looked up the guidelines regarding COVID for each place you visit by checking the destination’s government or embassy website.

Travel Safety Tips in the age of Coronavirus

By sticking to the guidelines and maintaining good hygiene habits, you can significantly reduce your chances of getting sick. However, we are all human beings, and sometimes we get sick, especially when travelling, as this could result in reduced sleep, which may affect your immune system.

To prevent any problems with illness, you should purchase travel insurance which will cover you if you need to visit a doctor or require medication. It will also protect you financially if you suffer an injury such as a broken ankle. If you are hospitalised and miss a flight, having travel insurance will be a God’s send, as this will prevent you from splashing out on a new flight.

Watch what you eat and drink

It may seem like obvious advice, but maintaining a balanced diet is one of the most important travel safety tips when backpacking. Sometimes the distraction of sightseeing and meeting new people can result in missed meals or an unhealthy diet, which can leave you feeling lethargic or even ill.

Some people may think eating a balanced diet means you must eat healthy at all times, but this is not the case after all your backpacking trip should be all about fun and treating yourself to local food is part of that. However, you should try to be careful, especially if you have a weak stomach, as some foods may not agree with you, resulting in sickness.

Staying hydrated is also a massive must, especially if you are travelling to hot destinations. To ensure you keep on top of your water intake, you should pack a few reusable water bottles which you can put in your backpack or clip to your side while hiking, exploring and sightseeing.

Travel Safety Tips and COVID

Now you have all the travel safety tips you need for an exciting and super secure backpacking trip, why not look at our article on COVID-19 and backpacking. This guide will offer all the tips you need to stay sane before you can start travelling around the world again.