1) Vagabonding and backpacking is a lifestyle, live it and experience it as such. Don’t be a slave to a pre-written itinerary like a job or try to see and do everything like its a weekend vacation.
2) Get lost intentionally. You’ll find many interesting places no guidebook can show you. Including things about yourself you never knew
3) Always have at least 1 use worth of toilet paper as part of your gear. This is exceedingly rare in many parts of the world. This includes napkins at restaurant.
4) Hide stashes of cash (a few large bills in each spot) spread throughout your backpack, clothing and self. Use for a rainy day or emergency situations.
5) Think of a backup plan and a backup plan for the initial backup plan. Don’t plan for everything but the following are important; lost or damaged gear, cash and credit cards, passport, accidents, medication.
6) Don’t fold your clothing, roll them up like a tight cylinder. This let’s you pack more in your backpack and reduces wrinkles.
7) Pack your backpack with inner bags and pouches for maximum efficiency. Have a separate bag for clothing tops and bottoms, socks and underwear, electronics, toiletry etc.
8) Eat local food. Avoid Western or familiar chain restaurants like McDonald’s. Local food will almost always be far less expensive. But more importantly, eating is part of the experience of travel.
9) Don’t bring excessive amounts of jewelry. Looking wealthy while backpacking abroad can be dangerous and does nothing for your social proof. See #31.
10) Avoid white shirts, underwear and pants. It will eventually turn into an unpleasant yellow no matter how clean you are.
11) Pack clothing with similar and matching colors as what can fit in your backpack will be your entire wardrobe until you re-gear.
12) Stay at hostels even if you can afford expensive hotels. This is the best way to meet like minded vagabonds and backpackers. It also part of the experience of long term around the world travel.
13) If you have food allergies, find out the foreign words of them for the country your in. This way you can make sure its safe to eat exotic and unidentifiable foods.
14) Try collecting the last bits of cash currency for each country you visit and save them as souvenirs. They take up no space and can be used as emergency money.
15) When negotiating a taxi without a meter, ask the driver for a quote and offer them exactly half of that. Chances are you look like a foreigner and they will jack the price up 100% the normal fee.
16) Even if you don’t use contacts, buy a couple of contact lens cases. They are great for packing single use liquid soap, shampoo + conditioner and pills. Perfect for emergencies, backups or for overnight use.
17) Have 3 copies of your passport. 1 on your person at all times, 1 somewhere in your backpack and a digital version in your email account.
18) Always have a plastic bag as part of your gear. They can be used for waterproofing, laundry bag, extra luggage, internal gear separation and much more.
19) Don’t bother with specialty bags specifically made for laptops and cameras. They are often obvious of the valuable contents they contain which makes them highly susceptible for theft.
20) If your flashpacking with electronic gear, don’t forget to pack a backup battery or even a solar charger. Power can be scarce depending on where you travel to.
21) Don’t ever pack a sleeping bag. Even the most expensive, hi tech and minimal ones are bulky and heavy. Hostels often do not let you use them either. At the most, invest in a sleep liner the size of a fist.
22) Tents are even worse than sleeping bags. But if you plan on trekking, rent a tent instead. If the trek route requires a tent, rental services should be available nearby.
23) Even if your not a “flip-flop-kind-of-person”, pack a pair or plan on buying some cheap ones along the way. Regardless of the season, they are imperative to use for the hostel shower floors.
24) Cotton is a great material but not for backpacking. Invest in merino wool clothing. They are the perfect travel clothing material. They dry incredibly fast, deters odor, are long lasting and almost as comfortable as silk. Synthetics are fine but are notorious for bad odor protection.
25) The best way to keep in touch with your people back home is Facebook. The same goes for keeping up and in touch with all the new friends you will make while vagabonding.
26) If your about to get mugged, give them a prepared “decoy wallet” and walk away. This should be a cheap and thin wallet with a couple of expired credit cards and some actual cash.
27) Make it a habit to pack (or prepare) your backpack the night before checking out of a hostel so you don’t miss the flight, tour or anything else time sensitive.
28) Pack a few sets of ziplock bags or invest in some military grade LoKSak bags. They are perfect for storing passports, documents and waterproofing gadgets in inclimate weather.
29) If partying and drinking, plan an exit strategy before consuming. Know how to get back to your hostel and if taxis will be available late night. Have your hostel address and phone number handy.
30) Use shampoo as body soap if you run out of regular soap. It may not be as effective but you will still smell nice and fresh.
31) Call your credit card and bank and let them know you’ll be traveling abroad before leaving so the automated systems doesn’t lock out your cards when you need them most.
32) The wealthier you look, the more people will try to charge you for things. Markets, street shops, taxis and lodging in developing countries.
33) Even if your not a “hat person”, pack a lightweight one as part of your gear. You will be out during the day constantly and will help with the sun. Also great for public naps as a sleeping aid.
34) Denim jeans are tough and long lasting but are terrible for backpacking. They are extremely heavy, pack bulky and take exceedingly long to dry.
35) Pay attention if there are very strict dress codes at certain places like temples, churches and other historical or religious areas. You may need to take off your footwear or cover up exposed skin.
36) Try to avoid buying transportation tickets for buses, trains and boats from agencies as they make money directly by charging you the (20% +) difference. Buying these methods of transportation is easy enough for any backpacker, regardless of a the country.
37) If you see another vagabond or backpacker, say hello. They will be glad to talk, walk, tour or travel with you. We are a very friendly and inviting community.
38) Be very careful talking politics with the natives. Making jokes about a king like Americans do about their president can get you serious prison time in some countries.
39) Never select the “Save Username / Password” option and always log out when using hostel, cafe or any public computer for bank, credit card and even Facebook accounts.
40) A good place to get free internet / Wi-Fi are public libraries. This is a good last resort if your hostel doesn’t offer it or if the internet cafe charges too much.
41) Some hostels and especially guesthouses enforce a strict curfew. Make sure of this before planning any all-nighters or contact management about your situation.
42) Never initiate a bribe to a police officer or other official unless they do it first. It will be in the form of a “fee”, “fine” or “tax”. Act like this is a legitimate transaction and go along with it like you don’t know any better but never use the word “bribe”. Warning: This is often the case in poorer countries. Use your best judgement.
43) Don’t toss away or stuff loose coins in your backpack never to be used. Coins are extremely useful while backpacking and should always be handy for buses, snacks, trains and exact change for taxis.
44) If you know you will be arriving really late at an airport, sleep it off there. Don’t bother with a hostel or hotel and save a night’s worth of accommodations.
45) The best ways to save money on food is buying street food or shopping at a market and making it yourself. Street food may get a bad rep in Western countries but they are not only mostly healthy, but delicious in other parts of the world.
46) Your not on a vacation with a limited amount of time, this is a journey where time should be irrelevant. Travel slow and take it all in as it comes.
47) Say “yes” more often. Be yourself, but a more open and adventurous version. Vagabonding is all about experiencing things for the first time and experimenting with the new.
48) If you’ll be traveling with a smartphone, don’t bother bringing or buying those hefty printed Lonely Planet guidebooks. Just get the app or download them. Besides, these books will be floating around most hostels for community use.
49) Forget external hard drives and easy to lose USB memory sticks for photos and videos. Download Dropbox to your computer for free (up to 2 GB) and have any type of data stored in your current laptop, any other computer in the world and in the cloud at the same time all updated automatically.
50) Pack thin layers of clothing, not heavy and thick. This way you can pack for 2 seasons but be effective for all 4.