If you’re preparing for your first backpacking adventure, you may be feeling a mix of excitement and nerves. A round-the-world trip could show you incredible places and cultures and help you meet new people, but you’ll also be pushed out of your comfort zone. With unfamiliar regions, languages and laws to contend with, it’s a good idea to keep safety in mind.
After all, while research shows holidays allow us to escape the stresses of everyday life, backpacking can create its own worries. But keep in mind that the world isn’t generally a dangerous or unkind place. Armed with the right information and preparation, you’ll be able to set out on the right foot.
Equip yourself with 5 essential safety tips below!
Do your research
Being spontaneous while travelling is a great way to meet people and experience the unexpected. But doing some basic research beforehand will help you feel more comfortable and confident on the move.
Look up things like safe neighbourhoods, local laws and emergency services and common scams. The government’s foreign travel advice hub is a handy resource for any major safety warnings. Familiarise yourself with the area’s wildlife, climate, geography, and any potential hazards. Adequate preparation will help you make informed decisions during the trip, minimising any hazards you come across along the way.
Be hyperaware of your surroundings
There can be a lot of distractions to take in while travelling, especially if you’re in particularly bustling environments. But being hyperaware of both people and your physical surroundings will help you avoid unwanted attention, confrontation and injury.
Accidents happen sometimes. But if something leaves you hurt and isn’t your fault, be it a road accident or a slipping in a shop or restaurant, keep in mind you could claim compensation for your troubles.
Communicate with friends and family
You may be going backpacking to develop a sense of independence. But as much as you might want to escape your ties back home, staying in contact with loved ones will provide reassurance for both parties.
You could give them a rough idea of where you’re expecting to be when. That way if you do go off-grid unexpectedly, you could have help on the way sooner. You could also research the availability of mobile network coverage in your destination, and perhaps consider carrying a satellite phone if you’ll be visiting remote areas.
Any experienced backpacker will tell you to pack lightly. But you should also invest in a strong, secure bag with hidden pockets, as well as factoring in items like first aid kits and medicine on your packing list.
Similarly, when you’re going out exploring in the day or unwinding at night, make sure to only take what you need. Carrying unnecessary weight will increase your risk of injury, so don’t carry extra valuables if you won’t use them anyway!
Eat and drink carefully
One of the best things about travelling is sampling new and diverse foods. Just try to remember that tap water isn’t safe to drink in many regions and food hygiene standards aren’t the same everywhere!
Foodborne illnesses can be more common in developing countries, so pay extra attention to where your food is coming from. During the planning stage of the trip, remember to check where you’ll be able to find potable water and safe-to-eat food if you’re visiting a destination where water and food are tricky business!
First-timer backpacking safety tips – final thoughts
Backpacking around the world can be a once-in-a-lifetime, transformative experience. These safety tips will stop bumps in the road spoiling your trip!