Friday, March 6, 2009

TRAVEL: Backpacking Tips

Here are some tips I've gathered from the trips I've done these past few years. I'm sure these tips would apply depending on the situation but, nevertheless, take what you need.
Consider the people in the group
First of all, make sure that you're group is not too big. Usually, 4-6 people is a good number because it makes sharing taxis or rooms more cost-effective. If more people join, it would be difficult to move around together since each has different wants and needs. Women could spend hours shopping and that might be problematic if the guys wait for them. It's always good to have a flexible mind-set. You don't always have to do things together.
Second, consider the personality of the people in your group. It is a hassle to be traveling with someone who keeps on complaining about anything. Believe me, I know. Should disagreements arise, it's always good to settle it democratically - and this doesn't mean just going with what the majority wants but hearing out all the concerns and trying to reach for a compromise which will make everyone happy.
Have a pooled fund
It would be convenient if your group collects money and assigns one person to be the treasurer. That person would then be in charge of paying for group purchases such as hostel rooms, bus or train tickets and the like. The "family fund" can also be used when eating out. Just assign a minimum amount, say 3 USD, and if your order costs more than that, just pay individually to the treasurer. This saves so much time because only one person heads to the cashier to pay and it takes away the burden of not having loose change to foot the bill. Spread your cash
It's good to put your cash in different pockets for two reasons. First, for security purposes. If you put all your dough in one place and the unfortunate happens, you might end up losing your cash in one go. Second, for convenience's sake. What I do is I put the big bills in my wallet which will be inside my bag, the most secure place. I put slightly smaller bills in my side pocket because it's difficult for pick-pockets to try and sneak up to my side and then I place the loose change in my back pocket since it's easy to take it out every now and then. With this set-up, you can avoid opening up your whole wallet and exposing all your cash just to pay a Tuk-tuk driver or to buy a buy drink.
Read up
Researching about the history and background of the place will make it more alive and enjoyable. You can easily access the history of the place online and when you do, a lot of the things you will observe as you travel will make much more sense. Reading up on the culture as well will make you communicate effectively with the locals. Learn a few words in the native language and you will go a long way.
Positive Attitude
Don't expect all your plans to work out the way you planned them to. The unexpected twists and turns are all part of the trip. When things go awry, take it with a grain of salt and just see it in a positive light. Being worked up and negative about sudden changes will only make things worse. It's going to ruin the mood of the trip as well. At the very least, an unexpected turn of events will make for a good story once you get home.