How to Plan a Backpacking Trip
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How to Plan a Backpacking Trip

Afraid of the Unknown and not sure where to begin your next adventure? Heres some tips

How to Plan a Backpacking Trip

After I graduated high school, I was ready to see the world. My family and I planned a two week backpacking trip from London to Barcelona, then through southern France and Northern Italy down to Rome. This experience changed my life, I realized anybody could be a world traveler given the right tools. Here’s some things I wish I would have known, or learned along the way.

Study the city beforehand

Every city is vaguely similar. Train stations link almost anywhere in Europe so it’s very easy to get around if you can read a map correctly. Knowing the country's history and simple facts about the city and culture makes your experience a lot more interesting and easier to engage in the city. As you travel around, you learn a lot more about the city and the people but knowing some facts before you go will help you understand the culture and appreciate a life different than your own.

Know how to get around the city before you go

Of course every city is different, especially as you go from different countries and the street system is very different everywhere around the world. Being from Minneapolis, taxis and trains were not a big part of my childhood. When we were in London, we took the Metro everywhere or taxis to different places around the city. It was nothing like how I experienced, but before we left I had to learn how to use the Metro and different train systems so I didn’t get stranded on my own. If you read online about the city or transportation system you will feel a lot more prepared.

Know the basics of the language

I took Spanish and some French in high school, so I was able to understand a small portion of menus and conversations, but when we were in Italy I was hopeless. It would have been very beneficial if I would have looked up some things like “please and thank you” or “where is the train station?” because the locals are always happy to see visitors or people interested in their language, and that could have helped me when we were lost or had troubles.

Pack light

I traveled with my mom and two sisters, so naturally we all overpacked, especially my mom. Whenever we had to walk a long distance or move from train to train and go fast, it was a huge burden to have to carry 50 pounds on our backs. We were in Cinque Terre Italy and climbing up huge hills, which was very difficult for my mom who had two backpacks (one she put in front, one in back) who is 5’3” and wasn’t prepared for the hike. We used everything we brought about once, but could have easily went without using some of the little things. Bring a journal, but buy books there or re wear some clothes and wash them in the sink. Remember you're carrying everything, so don’t bring things that you don’t absolutely need. Just buy the simple things once you get to your destination.

Like your travel partners

I went with my family, so of course we had some controversy. I wouldn’t have wanted to be with other people though because we got to know each other all over again. It was nice to reconnect and rebuild our relationships before we would all be separated by colleges. Everyday we had to remember that we just have to put up with each other and help each other out, not be so opinionated about what we thought was best. It would have been a miserable trip if I went with people that were negative and couldn’t keep up the fast pace, but enjoy the moments.

Keep a positive attitude

It gets tiring moving constantly and sleeping in a different bed almost every night. Some days, we went five days without sleeping in the same bed twice. We were exhausted, but those were my favorite days of the trip! You’re paying a great deal of money for your time there, so enjoy every moment. You want to embrace the different cultures and say yes to as many things as possible. You can sleep and be sad when you get home, enjoy your time while you can. Things will go wrong, you just have to roll with the punches and keep a good attitude.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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