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Backpacking Checklist

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Backpacking is for those who wish to travel around the world low-cost and visit places accessible to the world only through foot. But this independent, extremely adventurous, fun way of travelling comes with its own set of planning and preparation like any other travel. Below is a backpacking checklist of things you should check before you pack your bags and step outside.

  • Planning: Though backpacking is considered as an impulsive way of travel, if you want a hassle free trip then plan ahead. Choose your destinations, books your tickets, plan your stays and resources for each destination, and make enough provisions for detours. A planned trip not only helps you to travel better but also gives someone back at home an idea of where you are at any given time. Also, prepare yourself mentally for the travel. A thorough research and understanding of your destination, the weather, culture, currency, political situation, custom rules etc., comes handy.
  • Backpack: Probably the obvious, but nevertheless the most important. Throughout the trip the only reliable companion you will have is your backpack. Choose a backpack which fulfils your needs. Having said that, your needs need to fit in a bag easy enough to carry all day. Backpacks are usually customised to suit your body weight, and your destinations. A hiking gear is inevitably necessary for hiking trips, likewise is a tent for camping, and sleeping bags if you’re planning to travel through remote locations. An ideal backpack is one that could be carried as a hand luggage in flights, fit under bus seats and is not at all cumbersome.
  • Navigation: Your adventurous self might be on loose during travel, but a detailed navigation system, a GPS, and a compass makes sure you don’t get lost in an unknown country. Local guidebooks and paper trail maps should not be dismissed as unnecessary. Carrying a compass is pointless if you don’t know how to use it. Learn the basics of how to navigate before you start your trip.
  • Documents: Of course you will carry your passport. But did you check the expiry date, and the pages left on it? Are you carrying documents for visa and visa extension for every country you plan to visit? What about photocopies of those important documents? Your driver’s license, student ID, ATM or credit card, vaccination certificates, insurance papers, and passport size photographs should be ticked on your list.
  • Clothing: Check the weather of every location you plan to visit before you start packing clothes. Carry light is the motto of backpacking. But when it comes to clothing, you may hesitate after all who wants to wear the same set of clothes repeatedly for days. But if you plan it right you might end up with more options to wear and more space in your pack. Also you can buy clothes anywhere in the world. While packing consider the local culture. In some parts around the world it is considered improper to walk down the streets wearing shorts, whereas in some parts you might need extra insulation or rain jackets to make do.
  • Shoes: Backpackers spend most of their time on foot than relaxing in luxury hotels. Sturdy shoes are very important for health and comfort. Carry extra shoes depending on your destination. Sandals, hiking boots, woollen socks are a basic necessity.
  • First Aid Kit: No excuses whatsoever; a must in every traveller’s bag. Carry the supplies for minor injuries and common health problems. Get acquainted to basic first-aid as it might come handy in the wilderness. Your kit should contain basic medicines for cold, diarrhoea, muscle cramps, motion sickness, and painkillers, antibiotics, salve for stings and bites, and band aids. Replenish the supplies of common medications as you travel. If you’re carrying special medications, carry their prescriptions as well and check if it’s legal in your destination. We’ve got a separate first aid kit checklist too.
  • Electronics: Most important piece of electronic item in your back pack is…no, not your mp3 player but a LED flash-light. You need to carry a water resistant, durable flash-light or headlamps with extra batteries even if you don’t plan to venture into the dark wilderness. Carry a camera if and only you are going to put it to utmost use, if not it’s a valuable prone to theft. The same applies to the laptop. Chargers for your laptops, phone, music player, batteries, memory cards, pen drives, global SIM card, plug adaptors, calculator are some of things you may need. These days, however a smartphone can effectively do the work of multiple devices.
  • Toiletries: A toilet bag is an absolute must to carry your toiletries so as not to spoil your backpack with spillage. Toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, shampoo, face wash, shaving cream, razors, tweezers, nail clippers, sun cream, moisturiser, hand sanitizer, wet-wipes, tissues, toilet paper, tampons, and condoms are basic items that your toilet bag should have. If you plan to take your backpack as a carry-on on flights, then hunt down little travel size bottles of toiletries. You can always purchase more as you travel.
  • Food, water, and cutlery: Every backpack should have a supply of food. It could be simple nutrition bars, or oatmeal, or frozen dinner. Be prepared to make an instant meal with limited supplies to satisfy you hunger pangs. You could buy water bottles anywhere as you travel, or drink from taps but it is always best to carry a good, lightweight water bottle in your backpack. If you plan to go camping then plastic bowls, spoon, fork, knife, and an aluminium mug are the cutleries you need to pack. A camping stove may come in hand to boil water, and cook simple meals on the trail.
  • Other essentials: Every backpacking trip has unique backpacking essentials. Once the common ground is covered think about more specific requirements. Some of the essentials are:
    • a tool kit with pocket knife has multiple uses
    • fire starter
    • whistle for emergencies
    • insect repellents
    • ear plugs
    • eye mask
    • padlocks
    • wire lock
    • books
    • day pack or handbag
    • travel pillows
    • zip lock bags
    • duct tape
    • notebook
    • pen
    • snow shovel
    • binoculars
    • and of course money.

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