• Audrey Abshire

Travel Tips from an International Marathon Backpacker

When I first started backpacking in another country, other backpackers would share tips and tricks. There is no better resource as a solo traveler than the people who have already tread the path. The global backpacking scene is a supportive community of like-minded people helping one another on their journey. I found this to be true in every country I visited during my journies.

I started in Central America, making my way down to South America--where there were many European and Middle-eastern travelers. Some were moving up from the South vs. down from the North. I took this opportunity to exchange tips and tricks on where to go and how to get there. Below are some of the most common advice I would find helpful when traveling internationally:

  • Don’t leave your backpacks anywhere besides on you or right next to you.

  • Don’t fall asleep without having your backpacks on you or next to you, and keep them locked at all times.

  • If you are taking night transportation, ensure your most important belongings are on your lap, and everything is locked up next to you (under your seat).

  • When staying in a hostel or hotel, ensure your belongings are locked in the lockers (ensure you have a padlock and small locks for all backpacks).

  • Check reviews before booking a hostel or hotel. Even if someone you meet along the way has suggested the place. It’s essential to keep in mind that every person has a different experience/perspective (trust your gut).

  • When booking a hostel or hotel, ensure you don’t book too far in advance, as plans can quickly change--I try to book 1-2 days in advance.

  • When booking transportation, especially in Central/South America and Asia, book close to the travel date since schedules change and are typically late--you have to be flexible.

  • When sleeping in a hostel or hotel, ensure your phone is right next to you or in your pillowcase, and everything else is locked up in the locker.

  • If you’re bringing expensive technology such as a laptop, tablet, or kindle, these belongings should be locked up or in your pillow when sleeping.

  • Try not to show off where you’re from or expose too much information to strangers. I like to keep a low-profile at all times.

  • Ensure when you’re going out at night (and especially if you’re consuming alcohol) to be with at least two other people at all times when having to transport from one place to the next.

  • Ensure you have everything downloaded to your phone that is needed for the next day (if you’re not sure you’re going to have Wifi or even data service). Especially download the Maps.me app or Google Maps downloaded for that area.

  • Ensure you understand the language’s simple phrases in the area you’re traveling to by downloading certain language apps; the Google Translate app will be you’re best friend.

  • Ensure you understand exchange rates in the area traveling in; there are several apps to assist you.

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