We learn as we go – tips for the backpacker tourist

During the past few months I have spent quite a bit of time as backpacker tourist / traveller / nomad and I am of the opinion that my experiences along the way can now be transcreated into a couple of amazingly relevant, priceless travel tips. Completely free for you, the reader. Feel free to compensate me for these later.

Tip 1: A backpack of more than 15 kg is heavy. Seriously.

Tip 2: Make sure that everything, repeat, e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, fits in that backpack. Yes, the hand bag as well. This to prevent leaving one of your bags behind somewhere. And to prevent you from looking seriously ridiculous with all those bags hanging off you.

Tip 3: Make sure you have a smaller bag in your backpack. One that can function as hand bag, beach bag, day-trip bag...

Tip 4: Pack a rope of a couple of meters long. Comes in handy when you want to tie something (to the steering wheel of your motorbike). Also handy as washing line, handy when one of your backpack zips break...

Tip 5: A packet of washing powder is always useful for a quick hand wash. Although, your shower gel can be used for that as well. Just in case.

Tip 6: Always carry some passport photos with you. Sometimes you need them to get into a country and not having one can be very irritating. Read: expensive – when you need to have new ones taken. 

Tip 7: A knife is always practical. For self-defence (never needed it for that), but especially for peeling/cutting fruit, for cutting a wire, for prying something open... Make sure it’s the foldable kind (not my favourite, I prefer my fingers to stay attached to my hand) or that it has a protective cover (my preference) so that your clothes don’t get sliced in your backpack. Of course, you can always make your own cover out of sturdy cardboard, (from a packet of biscuits or something).

Tip 8: Drawing money costs money. Make sure you know how much you draw and use the cheapest card. (Banks all over the world charge money for you to get your own money!).

Tip 9: Multiple bank cards come in handy when one of them gets stolen (never happened to me), blocked by your bank (inform them beforehand that the Nigerian transactions are yours :-)), or refused by an ATM or an overly motivated bank employee.

Tip 10: Matches are indispensible.

Tip 11: Make copies of your passport and immunisation cards... and email them to yourself. The embassy will thank you for it when you arrive without any papers.

Tip 12: Buy a local sim-card with a bit of airtime. In an emergency situation or when a friend can’t find the bar, you will be thankful that you can communicate.

Tip 13: A few elastic bands. To put your hair up, to keep that pocket-knife cover together, to close a plastic bag....

Tip 14: Plastic bags: for your dirty laundry (or your clean laundry – depending on which is more prevalent in your backpack), for your leaking shower gel bottle, to locate something easily, to put away your dirty shoes....

Tip 15: A poncho/raincoat (or a huge plastic bag).

Tip 16: A sarong (a huge piece of cotton fabric). This can serve as bath towel, bed sheet, rug, beach towel, scarf, picnic blanket or bag for your dirty laundry. Double benefit – dries quickly.

Tip 17: Oh yes, some clothes. The locals will thank you for not walking around naked!


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