Backpacking has become a holiday choice for many people, not just for those who want to travel cheaply. Carrying your things on your back and travelling from place to place is an exciting way to see a country and many people feel it is the only way to really get a feel for a place. Many women are also opting for backpacking holidays, either in small groups or alone. As when planning for any kind of holidays, there are certain things to take into consideration.
One of the first things to do is plan your round the world trip. This doesn’t have to be a hard-and fast-plan but more a general itinerary. Deciding where you are going beforehand will give you time to sort out any required visas or other paperwork. In addition, doing a bit of research will help you avoid any particular dangers.
Of course, you don’t want to be tied to an itinerary. When you meet people on the road you might hear of some great place to visit, so be prepared to be flexible. Wherever you choose to go, make sure that someone knows where you are heading to just in case of difficulties.
When backpacking, it can be tempting to carry too much stuff. Remember that you may well need to carry your rucksack for some time, so travel light. Essentials are your paperwork, a first-aid kit, some comfortable shoes, a guidebook, waterproof clothes and something warm. But don’t forget that you will be able to buy things in most places you will be visiting. Find out what the weather is likely to be in your destination and pack accordingly.
Many reputable guidebooks give fairly comprehensive lists of packing suggestions which may be of some help. You might want to check certain things. How easy will it be to get feminine hygiene products for example? Again, research can guide your packing.
Security is always important when travelling and travelling light will be an aid to keeping you safe. Women travelling alone can be seen as ‘soft’ targets for thieves, so take care. Avoid wearing expensive jewellery or watches. Some backpackers advise you to make your rucksack look ‘well travelled’. A brand new rucksack is a surefire sign that you are a novice backpacker, making you more attractive to thieves.
Think about whether you really need to take a laptop or iPad. Hide large amounts of cash on your person – in your bra or in your socks, for example. Money belts can be useful too. Take several copies of your passport and leave one with a friend at home in case you need to get your details. Many hotels and hostels have safety deposit boxes, so leave your valuables there rather than carry them with you.
When you travel abroad, it should be no more dangerous than being at home but you need to be sensible and take note of local warnings.
Common backpacking destinations usually have a backpackers’ favorite area. Use the facilities there. These areas, in any country, tend to have low-cost accommodation, internet cafes, cheap eateries and travel agencies which can arrange plane, train and bus tickets, visits to local sites or tours of the city you are staying in.
Staying in a backpackers’ area will give you access to information about travel destinations, which can be a real help. When women travel, people at home tend to worry, so using the internet cafes can be helpful for reassuring those at home that all is well.
Wherever you are going, it is important to be properly insured. Travel insurance is essential and is well worth the money, as it will cover you if you have an accident or have something stolen.
Guidelines for Women
Depending on where they travel, women may have to consider a few more things. Primarily, this revolves around cultural issues, so research is probably the best way to avoid problems.
Backpacking is ideal for going with the flow and doing what you want. It is a good idea, however, to book somewhere to stay before you get there. Women are often seen as easy targets for thefts or scams, but having somewhere to aim for when you arrive in a new place can help reduce the risk. We are often at our most vulnerable when arriving in a new place after a long journey. We may be disorientated, confused about the money or just plain tired. But having a hotel to go to makes life easier. You don’t have to stay there forever, but for one night it can be a great idea.
Always remember that whatever might be the norm at home may not be the case abroad. For example, if you are travelling in a Muslim country, shorts and a crop top would not be considered appropriate clothing. Find out about the country you are planning to visit and take or be prepared to buy suitable clothes. This will not only make the women in that country more comfortable but will help avoid unwanted male attention.
Women travelling without a man are, in many countries, a rare sight. In some cultures, this is seen as a sign of sexual availability. Wearing the right clothes will help alleviate some of the problems but there are some things that you can do to further ensure your safety. One thing to do is avoid excessive eye contact. Ask local women what the norms are and try to stick to them. When travelling around, use reputable taxi or bus companies. Asking locals can be useful. Don’t hitchhike under any circumstances.
One way to avoid excessive male attention is to wear a wedding ring, even if you are not married. Being married in many cultures denotes that you are spoken for and discourages men from approaching you. This simple idea can make travelling much easier.
Being sensible is the key, so avoid doing things that might put you in danger. You probably wouldn’t walk alone at night at home, so don’t do it on holiday. Find people to walk with you or get a taxi. Don’t go to places that local women avoid – bars which are exclusively male, for example.
Backpacking should be an amazing, exhilarating experience. Make sure before you go to find out what you need to take, what cultural differences you need to be aware of and what places you should visit. Listen to other travelers, listen to local advice and use your common sense. Above all, enjoy your trip.
This is a guest post by Travelsupermarket.com