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10 top tips for backpackers travel

Backpacking can be a wonderful way to see the world on a free-wheeling and relatively economical basis.

Of course, free-wheeling is not the same thing as being cavalier, so thinking about things such as backpackers' insurance is always advisable. At Bengo Travel we have some great products specifically for backpacker requirements.

However, just as with any form of travel, backpacking can go wrong and to try and avoid discovering the reality of that, you may wish to consider some of our top tips below:

  1. think twice about travelling alone - particularly in certain parts of the world. If in any doubt, consult the government's Foreign and Commonwealth Office site for travel advice and safety recommendations;
  2. try to avoid drifting aimlessly and getting out of touch with those that care for you. Mobile phones do not necessarily work well in all parts of the world, so plan your next journey stage in advance and let your family and friends know where you are going and when you plan to arrive. Make all possible efforts to keep in touch with home;
  3. keep the cash, credit cards and valuables that you carry with you, to the absolute minimum necessary. For example, instead of the latest generation smart phone, try carrying a basic low-cost but functional telephone that will be far less attractive to thieves;
  4. be healthily cautious of over-friendly strangers. True, one of the reasons you are travelling is likely to be to meet people and if you are in fear of everybody around you then you may fail in that objective. However, you should be aware that there are many criminals who specifically target backpackers and younger backpackers. Do not go off alone with people you hardly know and be sure you understand that any food or drink you are being offered has not been tampered with;
  5. keep an emergency supply of cash available in a hidden location;
  6. research thoroughly the laws, customs and conventions of any countries you are visiting. Whether or not you think they are politically, sexually or morally correct, local rules will apply to you and punishments for transgressions may be severe. Do not assume that the UK government can necessarily dig you out of any trouble you may have got yourself into;
  7. take adequate and sensible health precautions. Research these thoroughly through the NHS before you depart. Under no circumstances should you ignore vaccination and medication advice when travelling to certain sub-tropical and tropical parts of the world - the results might be fatal;
  8. make absolutely certain that your return home arrangements are bought and paid for. It is a myth that the government will always pay for you to return back to the UK in circumstances where you are unable to pay for such yourself. Even if you are able to obtain such assistance from the government, upon your return to the UK your passport may be impounded and you will be unable to leave the country until such time as you have paid back the money you owe;
  9. try to stay on the main travel routes. In some countries, backpacking is relatively safe providing you stay in and around the main transport arteries of major roads and rail links etc. By contrast, rural areas that are well off the beaten track may be riskier for foreigners travelling informally;
  10. try to make sure that you are in reasonably good health before setting off. Being taken ill overseas (particularly if outside of the EU) can be expensive and traumatic. If you are in any doubt, ask your GP for a routine medical examination prior to departure. Be prepared to pay for this privately if necessary.

These are all very basic ideas but they may help you avoid some of the pitfalls that are occasionally associated with this type of travel.