Things I wish I’d known before…Backpacking/Travel Tips

After having done my blog post all about temples earlier this week, I got thinking about things I wish I’d done more of (or less of!) during my trip – which turned into a list of sorts – so I thought I may as well share it.

I think if you are off on holiday, going on a big travelling experience or just nipping away for a few days, some of these pieces of advice may be relevant – I wish I’d read some of them before I went away! 🙂

Photography

See how Ssssssnakelike I can be...in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam
See how Sssnakelike I can be…Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Take photos of yourself – sounds silly, but looking back a year later at a pic of you with people you met outside that awesome temple, next to that elephant, trekking in mountains – or even just sat having a beer, these photos will evoke so many memories – and really PROVE you were there when it might fell like you never did go…sigh…

Take photos of ‘normal things’ – busses, roads, houses, streetlamps, people – it’s easy to take photos of the awesome stuff, but sometimes it’s the everyday which you want to be able to look back and remember – even if just to show people ‘so check out what the busses looked like in India!’

Take videos – better than a 360 photo, and definitely better than 6 photos taken all around you! Plus a video can capture things like people talking, animal noises, even just ambient natural sounds – adding another sense to just the one you have left through photos from your trip – sight.

Offer to take photos of people for them on their camera – if you see one person taking a photo of others – jump in and ask if they’d like you to take a photo of all of them – they’re always super grateful and you may make some new friends off the back of it (like I did when I offered to take a photo of a group of Buddhist monks in Thailand)

Stuff to keep

Tickets, leaflets, receipts, sweet wrappers, crappy jewellery etc
Keep a note of everything you’ve done – it helps later for remembering/telling stories!

Stuff to take

Take far less clothes than you think you need
Take more underwear than you think you need 
Sigh – take more money than you think you’ll need…
The less gadgets, the easier it will be for packing – a smartphone (linked to cloud storage or with a micro SD card) should do you for: torch, camera, alarm clock, music player, internet machine, games console (for those boring bus or train journeys), e-reader, oh yeah – and maybe even a phone

Stuff to do

Try to learn ‘hello’, ‘thank you’ and ‘no thankyou’ in every language/country – something I did in the last few countries I was in, but wish I’d done at the start…
Don’t worry about ‘rest’ days – when you do hardly anything except mooch around your hostel watching TV, chilling on the beach or something, it really is ok not to be ‘doing’ stuff all the time, it’s not a ‘waste of a day’, so chill!

Full Moon and Half Moon parties - nothing quite like it!
Full Moon and Half Moon parties

DO the ‘touristy stuff’ as well as the ‘off the beaten track’ – they’re popular for a reason, and it’s a great way to meet people – find out where they’ve been and get ideas of stuff you’d like to do. Don’t NOT do the touristy stuff just because ‘it’s touristy’
Try different foods – but don’t feel bad if you just want a pizza for dinner!
Smile and say hello to people – they love it – especially in their own language
Haggle with a smile – not a frown
Add people you meet (and like) on facebook – you never know when you might be in the same place at the same time (it happens far more often than you might think) and it’s nice to meet up with a friendly face

My little scooter in Pai, Northern Thailand :)
My little scooter in Pai, Northern Thailand

Try and do something that scares the bejeezus out of you (for me it was hiring and riding my own moped – and yes, I fell off it…and no, it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I thought)
If travelling for 2 months or less – do as much as you can – longer, and it’s great to give yourself more time in places, so try to cut down on the number of places to visit, instead opt to spend more time in those you do visit. Gives you a chance to see how the locals live, meet other travellers – or even (God forbid!) give yourself a break for a couple of days!
Wander off on your own every now and then – and ask people to take photos for you
Say hi to your homies – Skype friends and family every now and then

So what do you think of my list? is there anything you would add in there from your experiences?

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