23 Tips for 23 Months of Backpacking Abroad

As we wrap up another extended trip around the world and prepare to fly back home, I thought I share some of my tips that I’ve learned along the way for other first time travelers. With 23 months of international travel under my belt, I’m always still learning myself and hope to pass a few kernels of wisdom along to other future travelers. Here are my top 23 tips for each of my 23 months of travel:

  1. You can never pack too many pairs of socks or underwear.
  2. A good rain jacket goes a long a way.

    Travel Tips, Rain Jacket,
    Good rainjacket = good times when travelling
  3. Safety always comes first. Wear a money belt, hide your valuables and travel with as little on you as possible.
  4. Develop a love of reading before you go, because you’ll have endless hours on buses, planes and relaxing on beaches to enjoy a good book, or ten.
  5. Learn the language, even a few basic phrases can go a long way and help you connect with locals for a more enriching travel experience.
  6. Call home. No matter how old you are, your parents appreciate knowing you are safe, healthy and happy

    Calling home, Skype, Keep in touch
    Whether you’re 18, 28 or 38, call home when you’re away.
  7. Budget for at least 10% more than you expect to spend. Bumps in the road occur, always have extra dollars in your bank account and a handful of American dollars stashed in your bag for emergencies.
  8. Take care of your body. Full moon parties and tubing down Vang Vieng start to take their toll after months on the road. Be good to your liver.

    Full Moon Party, Thailand,
    Thankfully full moon parties only happen once a month!
  9. When asking for directions, always ask at least two different people. Three is even better.
  10. Wear sunscreen. You don’t want to come home looking worn and aged, or with skin cancer.
  11. Try new food, as much as you can. Keep the Pepto Bismal handy and your fingers crossed you won’t get food poisoning (which you probably will at least once so just go for it anyways).
  12. Meet locals and expats. Learn about why they love their city and find out where the locals go.
  13. Take time to stop and smell the roses. Appreciate the moment wherever you might be.

    Flower market, Cuenca, Ecuador
    Taking time out of the day for the small things
  14. Unlock your phone before you leave. SIM cards are very cheap in developing countries and it will allow you to call ahead to your hostel or check Google Maps online.
  15. Bring a positive attitude. Things will go wrong on your trip, the bus might break down, your iPhone might get stolen and your hostel might lose your reservation. Keep your cool, and don’t let one day ruin your entire trip.
  16. If you think you’ll regret not doing something, than do it. A few extra dollars now won’t mean anything to you in a year, but those memories you can keep forever.

    Luxury cruise to Galapagos
    Free welcome drinks on board our luxury cruise in the Galapagos
  17. Take time for yourself. If you’re travelling with a partner or friend, remember to find some space for yourself every now and again.
  18. Make a plan and then toss it out the window. Be prepared, but be prepared to let the road take you wherever it might lead.
  19. Travel actively. Hike, climb and bike your way around the destination. So much of what makes a place great is the nature and beauty it offers.

    Hiking in Indonesia
    Hike to the top of the tallest mountain to find yourself and the destination
  20. Invest in a good camera. The best souvenirs you can take home are your photos.
  21. Say yes a lot. Yes to trying new things, yes to meeting new people, yes to taking a detour in your plans.
  22. Invest in a good backpack. You’ll be living out of it for months on end.
  23. Go now! Don’t wait until retirement.  A journey of a thousand miles, begins with a single step ~ Lao-tzu

    The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
    Don’t wait, take your first steps today!

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