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First Time Backpacker Essentials

Whether you have recently completed your A-Levels and feel its time to broaden your horizons with some inter-continental travel, or you are a more mature backpacker who has thrown off the shackles of your nine-to-five lifestyle to take a mid-life gap year – it always pays to be fully prepared for the journey you are about to undertake. Follow these travel planning top tips to ensure that you have all essentials covered before you even think about picking out the perfect swim suit or the most spacious backpack.
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Medical Cover and Insurance

Filling in forms and being sensible is often the last thing that is likely to be on your mind before you set off on what is likely to be the most exciting and inspiring trip of a lifetime, but it is vital to make sure that you have covered all the bases when it comes to insurance and medical cover. Firstly ensure that you have the correct type of travel insurance, which can vary dependent on the location of your trip and what you are planning to do whilst you are there.

Medical travel insurance can ensure that your expenses are covered if you fall ill or injure yourself in a country that does not provide free medical treatment.
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Travel Finances

Keeping a track on your money both before and during your trip is another essential that without proper planning can go very wrong – very quickly. Attempting to plan how much money you will need for an extended backpacking trip is difficult even for the seasoned traveller, so try to ensure that you have saved more than you think you will need.

When carrying money it is best to carry it either as traveller’s cheques or use a credit card, which if stolen means you will not be left penniless in a country hundreds of miles from home. Another top tip is to leave some money at home with a trusted friend or relative, who can then send you this money via international money transfer as and when you need it.
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When planning your trip, make sure that you arrange to have the correct vaccinations that are necessary for each destination. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office Website is the best place to look for the specific vaccinations for individual countries. Immunisations and vaccinations are essential for the backpacker as there are many diseases that are not widespread in the UK, such as malaria, dengue fever and rabies that are far more common in other areas of the world – so do not be tempted to run the risk of not getting your jabs, as the outcome could be extremely painful and unfortunate.


Once you have picked out the countries you are intending to visit it is important to research what sort of visa you will need when visiting. These visa requirements may be significantly different depending on the country, so be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to arrange them before you leave, as you may need to visit the countries embassy here in the UK to apply. Overstaying the time allotted to you by your visa can be a very serious offence in some countries, so make sure you have fully understood the limitations and restrictions of your visa before travelling.


Your tips were very helpful and I posted them on my website ( Have a great day!

Amirul says:

Hi Jason i have a some question?.
1. what if you don’t own a check or a credit card? But i have a debit card. Because in Malaysia it’s realy hard to own a credit card and my salary is not high.
2. do debit cash accept in most part of the world?

Thanks You

Your debit card should operate just like a credit card, so you should be fine. But, you will pay a lot in ATM fees when you withdrawal money. You won’t need any checks when traveling.

Samuel says:

These are practical tips. I’ve personally witnessed first time backpackers exhibiting a tendency to overspend when they first start their trip. Keeping to a budget is an essential part of completing your journey and reducing stress levels.

Jason says:

A travel budget is one of the most important tings to establish before leaving.

Heidi says:

You know, I’ve been around the world, but I still have not managed to go backpacking just yet. I didn’t know if I could handle it!! Thanks to this article, though, I think that I have enough information to really plan that kind of trip without ending up stranded somewhere. Thanks!! 🙂


Jason says:

Well, you still may end up stranded, we can’t guarantee that won’t happen!

Ryan says:

I didn’t realise there was so much planning involved, I guess the days of packing your bag and heading off are long gone. Fantastic tips.

Jason says:

It seems that way. I remember going a little crazy trying to prepare, it was a nightmare. I was always one to over analyze and prepare excessively. It sometimes takes the fun out of it.

Sarah says:

I leave in less than a month for another long-term backpacking gig and this post was yet another reminder that I really need to get my act together.

One thing I would add is to notify your bank and/ or credit card company that you are leaving, where you’ll be headed, etc. Learned this the hard way when the bank “compromised” my credit card when I was using it overseas…ya, the rest of that story played out NOTHING like you see on those commercials. Hmph.

Jason says:

Absolutely. We had to do that too.

Gareth says:

Nice list. The only thing I would disagree with would be the point about travellers cheques. They are pretty much obsolete nowadays. Stick to the Credit Cards.

Name says:

Great tips on backpacking for first timers. Keep up the good work!

Maria says:

I travel often and stay with friends when I can or take an inexpensive pensione, etc… so I don’t often truly backpack – appreciate the tips you posted here.

Dyanne says:

Travelers checks? Really? I thought those were pretty much obsolete all over the globe these days. ATMs are ubiquitous in most every corner of the world now, and I believe better to instead take two credit cards – two different accounts – perchance one card gets stolen or eaten by a foreign ATM machine.

Another essential tip is to make copies of your passport, credit cards, driver’s license, insurance papers, and other important travel documents. Likewise you can scan these and email the copies to yourself, but best to also have the paper copies.

Thristhan says:

I’m actually planning to do a roadtrip backpackers style. And am glad that I bumped into your travel blog. Thanks for the tips, I could have missed a few, especially the travel insurances.

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