8 things to do before backpacking

The essential to-do list before heading off on your big backpacking adventure

5 mins

So you’ve done the research, made a list of all the places you want to see, saved up for your targeted cash base, bought all the travel gear and finally booked the flight to begin the backpacking adventure of a lifetime. 

Now the hardest part of preparing for such a trip: the excruciating wait until the moment you actually board the plane for your starting country. In that time, consider these eight things for final preparations.

1. Prepare for jet lag and arrange accommodation

For backpacking types of travel, you will most likely start your destination in a far away country separated by several time zones. This means jet lag. Arriving to your very first foreign country confused and tired is hard but there are ways to make it easier. Try to book your flight to arrive at your destination about two hours before your normal bedtime (in the arriving country's time). This is so that by the time you arrive at your hotel or hostel, it should make it easier for you to fall asleep, which is a good way to ease into the new time zone.

2. Arrange transportation to the airport

If taking a taxi or getting a ride from a friend, arrange a pick-up time so you arrive at the airport no later than two and half hours before departure. If taking public transportation, figure out exactly how to get there if it's your first time; take delays and getting lost into consideration.

Missing your first flight to travel the world is not a good way to start the journey.

3.  Call your bank about your accounts

This is a five minute call that will save you a lot of pain and even money while you're overseas. For each debit and credit card you intend to take travelling, call each of their respective banks and let them know you will be abroad for an extended amount of time visiting several countries. Otherwise, your cards may be blocked by automatic security measures when your card is suddenly used in a random place.

4. Cancel unnecessary memberships

Got a gym membership? You won't be needing most monthly subscriptions while you're out of the country and add to the fact that it will needlessly and consistently reduce your finances.

It may seem like chump change, but it adds up and will slowly but surely suck money out of your accounts.

5. Choosing a mobile phone: to roam or not to roam?

If you decide to bring a smartphone like an iPhone or an Android, you have two ways to use them: to roam with your home cell service provider or get an unlocked device so you can buy SIM cards to use in any country.

Regardless of which service provider you have, international roaming is extremely expensive whereas buying SIM cards for short term use abroad is usually cheaper than your standard service back at home. But if you feel you don't need to use it or don't want to buy a new unlocked phone, just use it when Wi-Fi is available.

6. Sort out your visas

Research the visa requirements for your first arriving country a few months in advance. If you're lucky, the visa will be granted on arrival at the airport. But if not, make sure you have enough time to get the appropriate visa while you're still home as each country has different application times.

While the visa (if required) for your first country must be obtained before arriving, you don't necessarily need to obtain upcoming visas since they're only usable for a certain amount of time and you never know if your plans will change...

7. Pay off some or all of your debt

If at all possible, pay off any debt you can – especially the monthly responsibilities like credit cards. A backpacker's lifestyle is carefree. Living off a tight budget and paying interest and bills every month while travelling the world can put a real damper on it. Also, try to minimise the use of credit cards to zero or absolute emergencies as that will just be more debt.

8. Pack your backpack

This is an obvious one but you should take it with as much consideration as the previous seven. Your backpack and gear will be the only possessions you will have for the year or so you will be travelling around the world. Luckily, obtaining all the travel gear and packing is actually quite fun and exciting, not like the others on the list that are more like choirs. Check out our world travel backpacking packing list for everything you need and don't need for this journey.

John CainJohn Cain is the brains behind The Evaser, a lifestyle blog and website dedicated to the life of long-term around the world travel. It is chock-full of sage advice, inspirational stories and photos.

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