10 Safety Tips for Backpackers
Backpacking can be an extremely fun and fulfilling hobby if you have that wandering soul. But there are a few things to take note of to make the trip enjoyable. While you are travelling in unknown territory by yourself, things might not go easy at all times. This article will talk about 10 safety tips for backpackers so that you get to do it with ease and security.
- Do Your Research
Before starting to plan out your trip, sit down and do your research with ultra care. Once you do your research about your destination, you will get an overall idea about what to expect. Even if you might not be living under a rock, it is sometimes not possible to keep track of things that are happening somewhere 10,000 miles away from you. You never know how the political stances might change if you don’t play close attention. Don’t end up in the middle of a curfew if you plan on going for a backpack trip by spending heaps of money. Also find out which places are safe and where you are going to be staying. When you finally arrive, always be aware to not visit the sketchy places. Always book your hotel in advance as you never know if all the hotels end up getting booked beforehand. To avoid a night out in the open, do this.
This research should also consist of the local norms and behavior. If you want to go outside your country and in a completely different culture, this becomes an essential. For example, not all culture appreciates women wearing shorts in the public. Keep track of such things to avoid unnecessary hassles in your trip. Dressing and packing for the right culture is one the ways to keep out of trouble and to be safe.
- Stay Alert
Once you reach to your destination and start your vacation, it doesn’t mean you get to turn dull. If anything, become more alert of your surroundings. Keep some check points mentally with you at all times to stay out of a trouble in a foreign land. Those check points are –
- When you are done with your food and get up from the table, look back to check if you are leaving anything behind.
- Always stay alert by doing a quick sweep around you no matter where you are. For example, if the guys on your left side table at the bar are giving you weird vibe, move away immediately. In most cases, your gut feeling is right so don’t take chances.
- Before leaving the hotel for sightseeing, ask yourself if you are going to look too much like a tourist. As I have already mentioned, do your research and dress accordingly. In some countries, people will gawk at you just for being a foreigner, but don’t give them the option to harass you because of that.
- Always carry your bag and be aware of your belongings. For example, keep your phone inside your pants pocket so that you don’t leave it somewhere. If it is a sling bag, make sure the bag is always at your front rather than dangling it behind you.
- Don’t Take It All
This means to not take all the money you brought with you at every place you go to. Leave some of them at the hotel locker for the safety purposes. This will help even if you come across a mugging incident. You won’t end up completely deserted with no money. So the suggestion is that you take only what you need with you and leave the rest of it back at the hotel.
Even if you want to take a lot of money with you, then consider getting some hidden pockets. You can sew one yourself inside your pants. If you think you will need the extra money, just go inside a restroom and take them out. But be sure that other people don’t get aware of how much you are carrying. It beats the whole purpose if you flash out all your cash while tipping the waiter. Be wary and aware of your moves like this. This is something to take seriously even in your home country, but it becomes an essential while you are backpacking in a foreign one.
- Learn the Defense Techniques
Once you get the basics down, you will feel so much more liberated. Having safety strategies will always come in handy in unwanted situations. If you know how to defend yourself, you will become more confident and it will show in your body language. A defense strategy is sometimes all you need to tackle a mugger. If you are a solo traveller visiting a remote country with high crime rates, this will be very helpful for you. Learning defense skills do not take a lot of time and you can take some classes in almost anywhere these days. They are not super expensive either and I think investing on the classes will be beneficial for you in the long run. This is even more important for the female backpackers who go for solo trips.
- Get an Old Phone
It is not advisable to take your brand new and expensive phone with you on a backpacking trip. Chances are it will help you to attract unnecessary attention. And even if you don’t attract anyone, there is no need to lose it to a mugger just because you were taking a stroll in a lazy afternoon. You can just dig out your old cell phone and get a local Sim card when you reach your destination. With this phone you will be able to keep in contact with your family or friends back home. If you do need to post your photos and keep updated with work, you can just drop by at an internet café.
And also find out the emergency number of the place you are visiting and store it on your phone.
- Get Your First Aid Kit
Make your first aid kit a priority to take with you in your backpacking pack. This becomes an essential if you are going to be camping outside. Make sure your first aid kit has all the necessities to tackle the small injuries and pains. Take common medicine such as paracetamol, aspirin, pain killers etc. with you for those pesky pains. And also have bandages and band aids handy so that you can tackle the small cuts here and there. It doesn’t need to be fancy and you can easily fit all of these in a small pencil bag even. But this is only if you are a light adventurer who is going to mostly stick to the civilization.
On the other hand, if you plan to on daredevil sports such as trail hiking and mountain climbing, consider getting a first aid lesson. This will help you in tackling many emergency situations. This becomes an essential if you a solo backpacker who loves such outings. Learn how to take care of all the basics you can learn from a professional first aid training course and pack your box accordingly.
- Stay in Touch
Even if you are a lone soul, have someone back home who can keep track of your journey. Be it either your family or a friend; always tell someone where you are going before you start your journey. Also, give them your hotel information and a contact number as soon as you reach your destination. If you are going for an adventurous backpacking trip, let your friends and family know when you are going to come back. This way if you end up in an unwanted situation and go missing, they will be able to contact the local authority to search a rescue mission for you.
And if you are planning for going to a remote place with no network for cellular connection, you can get a PLB. A PLB is going to keep track of your travelling progress through a GPS device. Also, in case of emergency, you will be able to send an alert to the local authority.
- Keep in Track
Keep to your hiking trail no matter what. Even if other trails look fascinating, don’t go to venture into it by yourself because you never know what lies ahead. Also, don’t disturb and animals and plants. Don’t eat fruits and leaves even if you know what they are. Don’t approach or feed the wild animals even if they seem relatively innocent. Don’t make loud noises either otherwise you want to get the attention of the wild animals you don’t want to encounter. Just don’t do anything out of the norm, no matter how adventurous and brave you feel. When you go wander in the wild, play by its rules, not yours.
Also, make sure that you leave the things behind you as it was. For example, don’t play with rock slides cause it might cause a fall after you leave. This will not only create trouble for you while you try to get back in the same path, but also for anyone else who were travelling behind you. Also, don’t leave out the trash after eating as they will attract wild animals. This will affect the journey of the other travelers and not only you.
- Learn the Basics
If you are backpacker planning to go on hikes in the wild, learning some basics becomes an essential for you. if you want to go backpacking in the trails, make sure you are always ready to tackle any situation. You can’t map out all the occurring and having the mindset to settle with any emergency will help you in such cases. First off all, don’t panic if something does happen. If you know the basics, you will automatically feel more confident. If you have option such as the PLB, you will have someone coming to help you out.
Even so, learn how to do the basic survival skills. For example, learn how to make a fire, how to search for drinking water, how to build a basic shelter etc. These skills will help you survive in the wild. Sometimes in emergencies you tend to get super scared and nervous and it is perfectly fine. But with these basics, you will be able to handle the situation well.
- Come Prepared
If you haven’t done any exercise in the past ten years, a backpacking trip to the mountains will break you. Don’t expect to just do it because you feel like you are healthy enough. Taking a stroll to your local departmental store is not the same as hiking in a wild trail. Make sure you have proper cardio and leg strength so that you can tackle a long walk in the wild. In general, backpackers walk 3 to 10 miles a day in the hike. If you don’t have enough strength, you will not be able to get by after the first day. You will feel pain even to move your hands and legs, let alone take a walk.
Also, if you are a newbie, a great way to start this is to practice in your own neighbor. Go out and camp out for three days in your local site so that you get used to the surroundings. This will also help you in getting accustomed with your tools and gears. You will learn how to set up your tent properly so that you don’t end up sleeping in the open in your actual big trip.
The main thing to be safe in a backpacking trip is to take plenty or precautions and staying alert in the trip. If you take proper measures to plan out your trips, half of the stress will be gone. Make sure to do a proper research before starting out on your journey. If you plan for a real adventure, it is best to for mini adventures before in your own local places. Hopefully these 10 trips will ease your way to have a safe and happy backpacking trip.