Need tips on how to backpack and travel round the world? You’ve come to the right place.
Backpacking is not just for the young, gap year kids and students, it’s something everyone should do at least once in their life, no matter how old you are.
It’s more than a means to travel, it’s a lifestyle. Backpacking allows you to connect with the locals, travel to remote and distant lands, connect with other likeminded travelers, and share in unique experiences you’d never find in your home country.
For many, backpacking is a dream, but it can be scary and overwhelming knowing what to expect if you’ve never done it before.
So, to help you out, we share our top backpacking tips of how we were able to backpack round-the-world over a 10 year period, and what you need to consider before setting off on your trip of a lifetime.
- Why do people like backpacking the world?
- Tips On How to Backpack & Travel Around the World
- 1. Leave Room For Flexibility In Your Schedule
- 2. Spend More Time In Fewer Places
- 3. Travel Like The Locals On Public Transport
- 4. Think About Your Overall Travel Plan
- 5. Don’t Neglect Your Budget And Finances
- 6. Stay In Backpackers Hostels
- 7. Try Couchsurfing
- 8. Find An Affordable Hotel or Guest House
- 9. Cut Your Costs On The Road
- 10. Consider Working Holidays
- Get Help With Global Work and Travel
- 11. Teach English Overseas
- 12. Get Travel Insurance
- 13. Get The Right Backpack
- Where to Backpack The World
- More Solo Travel Tips
Why do people like backpacking the world?
No two travellers are alike, and what works for one, may not work for others. When you’re backpacking, you tend to gravitate towards travelers who are more on your wave-length.
Backpackers tends to have modest budgets, favoring experiences that connect them to other cultures and other people, over expensive splurges.
Because backpacking adapts your lifestyle to a more frugal nature, you gain a better appreciation for the world and your life – especially your life before backpacking.
After spending six months in hostel dorms, you will appreciate the luxuries you once had at home.
It also allows you to travel more off-the-beaten-path and to more remote locations, since you’re not going to be able to pull a roller suitcase up a mountain – well, you can try!
Tips On How to Backpack & Travel Around the World
Before you can grab a backpack and book a plane ticket, there’s a few things you need to consider when you’re thinking about how to backpack and travel round the world.
We suggest you ask yourself these questions:
- What destinations do you want to explore the most?
- How long do you want to travel round the world for?
- What is your travel budget?
- Are you traveling solo, as a couple, or in a group?
- What’s your desired style of travel? (planes, trains, automobiles, boats, other??
The answers to these questions are important because they’ll go along way towards making sure you give yourself the best chance to have a richly rewarding travel experience.
Whether you’re a seasoned backpacker, or you haven’t done any backpacking trips before, here are our top tips for backpacking the world.
1. Leave Room For Flexibility In Your Schedule
Things change. People change. You’ll meet people.
Others will recommend great places you’ve never heard of, you’ll discover interesting places you thought you only needed two days in but you’ll need a week.
If all your flights, tours and accommodation is pre-booked, it can be costly to change and frustrating to leave a place you love!
2. Spend More Time In Fewer Places
Why? It costs you less! Transport can really eat into your budget, so instead of racing through 20 countries in 20 days or 5 continents in 5 months, get to know a region well.
Racing around the world and visiting too many countries can also be tiring.
Having to pack and unpack, deal with many airports or bus terminals, boarder crossings and visa issues, can get you down.
So slow down, and take more in. That way, you won’t suffer from burn out, and you’ll really get a feel for a place and learn about the cheap places to eat and cheap things to do.
3. Travel Like The Locals On Public Transport
You get great knowledge and insight by hanging with the locals, it costs you less, and is a more authentic travelling experience!
We roughed it from Kenya to Cape Town using nothing but public transport – it was amazing!
4. Think About Your Overall Travel Plan
Everyone has different personalities, likes, dislikes, budgets, and comfort levels.
Some people could just jump on a plane without any plans, and everything would just fall into place.
But if this is your first time to travel round-the-world having “some type of plan” would be recommended.
However, we don’t recommend having too structured itineraries. One of the great things about long term travel is that once you get a feel for it, the best way is to just let it happen. You can over plan and leave yourself with no flexibility!
We go into a country, a city, and a town with a list of the must-do activities, and then we like to just walk around and immerse ourselves in the local day to day activities and heartbeat of the place, and get tips and information from the locals.
And of course, meeting and talking with fellow backpackers who have walked the road you plan to travel, is always invaluable!
5. Don’t Neglect Your Budget And Finances
If you’re an independent budget traveler, or doing a gap year, then determining how much you have, and how long it will last, is important.
You need “some type of budget” in place so that you give yourself the best chance to make your money travel further!
Your travel budget will obviously depend on your travel style:
- Are you willing to rough it in hostels and campgrounds, or do you need some extra comfort like a hotel or apartment?
- Are you willing to stay in dorms, or do you need a private room?
- What are your eating habits likely to be like?
- Are you planning on taking many tours?
For some great ideas on making your money work for you, see our saving money for travel page.
6. Stay In Backpackers Hostels
Backpackers hostels are a great option for budget travel, and a great place to meet other travelers and get top backpacking tips.
Rooms in hostels can consist of dormitory style (both same sex and unisex), private single, and private double rooms.
And they can be geared towards all traveler types: young, old, single, couples, male and female.
Certain regions of the world cost more, so consider your destinations carefully.
We personally spent most of our time traveling in Southeast Asia and South Africa, where the costs of staying in hostels and camping is very minimal, in comparison to regions like Western Europe, Australia, and the USA.
There’s also a unique feature on HostelWorld.com that tells you how many travelers are staying in a hostel at the same time as you, so you know whether a place is busy before you book.
7. Try Couchsurfing
Couchsurfing is a worldwide network that connects travelers with locals.
Members are located in over 230 countries, use over 302 different languages, and live in over 67,000 different cities.
Couchsurfing (sleeping at a members home) is absolutely FREE, and the only thing that’s expected is an inspiring experience!
8. Find An Affordable Hotel or Guest House
If you are in need of a little more comfort, and your budget allows it, then the obvious step up from a hostel is a hotel.
Finding an affordable hotel has been a desire several times for us, a little splurge for a night or two never goes astray after a while. HostelWorld.com is the best place to find and book a hostel.
9. Cut Your Costs On The Road
Learning how to backpack around the world and cut costs on the road plays a vital role in your long-term plans.
It makes no sense to put in the effort to save up for your trip, and then blow it all in a short period of time and you don’t get to do half the things you dreamed of.
Now, you will have to adjust your budget as you go, as there are just too many variables to take into consideration that you can never prepare for.
But having that budget in place, and writing in a daily journal and tracking what your expenses have been each day is recommended.
10. Consider Working Holidays
A working holiday visa program is a great way to have an extended stay in a country and to explore a particular region of the world.
It’s a great way to base yourself in a location and save money for further round the world travel.
The opportunity to work in another country gives you the greatest immersion into its culture, and can be a richly rewarding experience.
Get Help With Global Work and Travel
Want to live and work in the UK but all this sounds really stressful? Then consider an agency to help you with all your documents.
As I shared in this post, I had to figure it out on my own – arriving to London with no money, no friends, and no job. It was stressful and took
I’m so happy to share with you Global Work and Travel, a company that can help you do it with support!
Since 2013, Global Work and Travel have been helping travelers work and fund their travels through cultural exchange programs both paid and unpaid.
One of the elements of a successful working holiday is to find local, seasonal employment to use as a means to fund your travels around the country.
This is not easy, but Global Work and Travel makes it so as they have spent years with hundreds of local businesses that do hire travellers.
They assist you though all parts of the process such as finding flights, recommending you for interviews, and giving you a supportive community when you arrive. See all opportunities here.
We are enthusiastic partners of theirs as we believe in what they do, avid lovers of working abroad, and know they can help you!
Read more in our full post on the Global Work and Travel opportunity.
Our 10 years working abroad story in podcast
To learn more about working abroad, listen to the first five episodes of our podcast where we talk about working overseas.
- Episode 1: Solo Travel and Working Abroad before we met
- Episode 2: Our 5 year honeymoon living and traveling the world
- Episode 3: The Dark times and Birth of the girls and travel blog
- Episode 4: Embracing Family Travel and our 18 month Australian road trip
- Episode 5: Getting a green card and traveling the US (our dream realized)
11. Teach English Overseas
Another great way to travel round the world is to teach English. You can spend a considerable amount of time in a country or region of the world whilst funding your stay through teaching.
You can get great immersion into a culture and live and travel in exotic places.
Teaching English abroad is not for everyone and you don’t have to look at it as a new career, but the experience could look great on any resume.
12. Get Travel Insurance
Another important task to think about when considering how to backpack the world, is to organize Backpacker Travel Insurance.
It is something we would all love to avoid, but is necessary. We’ve had to claim several times in the past, and we wouldn’t leave home without it.
Advice from the Backpacker Travel Insurance experts
- Cancellation: It’s no fun if you fall ill before you leave and can not go on your trip. Not all insurance policies cover cancellation, so please read the policy wording relevant to you carefully.
- Lost or stolen gear: most travel insurance policies have a per-item value limit – make sure its high enough to cover your gear or choose a policy that allows you to increase the limit.
We’ve personally used World Nomads on our backpacking trips.
Need more information about travel insurance? Check out these other guides:
13. Get The Right Backpack
Backpacking has become so much easier these days since many backpack manufacturers are producing backpacks with backpackers in mind.
Osprey are no doubt the leaders in the field when it comes to backpacking backpacks.
Gone are the days of open top backpacks and roller luggage! If you’re going trekking, be sure to get a backpack with a waist strap – this allows all the weight to fall on your hips instead of your back and shoulders. Trust me, you’ll need it!
Where to Backpack The World
Now you have some backpacking tips and you’re feeling ready to get out of your comfort zone, it’s time to consider where in the world to backpack.
Here are the most common backpacker countries:
Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam
Commonly referred to as The Big 4. These countries in Southeast Asia are incredibly backpacker friendly, not only because they are cheap and packed with hostels, but they are safe to visit.
Your money can go a long way in Southeast Asia, and you’ll find many other backpackers on the road here. In fact, you have to try really hard not to meet people!
Some top experiences not to miss is sunrise over Angkor Wat in Siam Reap, a Long-Tail Boat Ride in Laos, and visiting the Ancient Temples of Bangkok.
After the Big 4, if you have more time left, we highly recommend you visit Palawan in The Philippines or visit Indonesia (not Bali, it’s too westernized now, but Java and Lombok are great!)
You could also tie The Big 4 into a complete Banana Pancake Trail adventure. The Banana Pancake Trail is a term used for Southeast Asia countries that backpackers go to – India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and The Philippines. Basically anywhere bananas grow.
Central America, outside of Mexico, is a great place to go backpacking because it’s not as well trodden as other parts of the world.
South American and Southeast Asia are far more popular, but you can have a really authentic experience traveling in Guatemala down to Panama. Just note that the safety index for these countries are not as good as Southeast Asia.
These countries are accessible from North America and often have direct flights to places like Houston, Texas.
The Gringo Trail – South America
South America is another backpacker friendly continent, and has even earned the nickname “The Gringo Trail’ which refers to Latin American countries often visited by ‘gringo’s AKA Canadians, Americans, Brits, Anglo-European people such as the Dutch or Germans – you get the message.
If you speak Spanish, you will get by a lot easier as not everyone speaks English – if you don’t speak Spanish, find someone who does!
Some unmissable experiences are hiking in Patagonia and hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Don’t miss a chance to explore the Salt Flats in Bolivia.
More Solo Travel Tips
Need more inspiration about traveling solo? Here are some other helpful guides…
- 5 simple ways to manage mental health for solo travelers
- 5 Ways to Deal with Solo Travel Negativity from Family & Friends
- Easy Tips to meet people as a Female Solo Traveler
- tips to nail effective communication as a solo traveler
- Top Destinations For First Time Solo Female Travelers
- Budget Travel Tips for Solo Travelers
- Important Questions to Ask Before traveling Alone as a Woman
- tips for staying safe as a solo female traveler
- Why Colombia travel is best for a solo adventure
- How to travel safely to India as a solo female traveler
- San Francisco in a Day: A solo mother’s relaxed wanderings