4 tips for planning a backpacking trip the old school way…

Don’t let backpacking die! Do it in style, do it the ‘old school’ way… ‘the best stories come out of a backpack!’ #fromabackpack

My first round the world trip was in 2007.  Having a gap year and travelling the world in 2007 was not the same as it is now.  It was rare, it was unique, it was risky. I think round the world trips can still be all of these things, but back then it was rough around the edges and a little bit old school. It wasn’t as easy as it now… I am so glad I got to see the world then, even now when I travel its unbelievable how fast everything is changing. Do it now. Buy that ticket. Travel the world! 


1. Travel with a backpack don’t take a suitcase!

Yes it is possible to go on a RTW trip without a backpack. In fact, it is  easier to travel without one. Wheeling a lightweight case along a cobbled streets seems a lot less stressful than hauling a 15kg backpack on your back whilst sweating in the mid day heat, searching for the best priced hostel! But I think it takes away the fun, the magic. It’s not the point. Backpacking isn’t meant to be easy – you just can’t beat that feeling of finding your hostel and taking of your backpack. The struggle is what makes it great. We wouldn’t have backpacking if everyone ditched the backpacks. Packing, unpacking and repacking a backpack can get annoying, but you will be a pro at it by the end of a long trip! You will learn to love your backpack. It’s a seat ,a bed and when they throw it on top of a bus in India they have a lot of straps to attach it on with!

2. Bring real books!

Do you remember what they look like? Read real books whilst your away. Dog eared copies of the beach or Shantaram . Swap hem share them. Imagine the places they have been. Think of all the stories they have. I think there is something magical when you swap books all around the world. In the most random of places you will book swaps and you will find street kids flogging books, charity shops will sell them. Read books you wouldn’t normally read. Read what’s there. Ask people to swap books. Don’t let paperbacks die. A kindle may have more books it might even be cheaper but, embrace the freedom of the road and the beauty of taking books around the globe with you, adding to their stories, write message in them. Pass them on full of advice or thoughts.

3. Don’t book all your accommodation in advance.

I will never forget the time I arrived in Delhi , we made it to the “backpackers area”. In the scorching heat and through the relentless stares. The grabbing the shouting,  “miss miss”. We searched up and down looking for somewhere to stay, asking to see rooms being hauled up to the highest floor and back down again . Lugging our backpacks , tired, hungry stressed we eventually found our haven. This is what backpacking is to me. The struggle is what makes it great. The achievement when you find that perfect room. Sometimes you need that prebooked place. But that feeling of arriving with no plans  = complete freedom. Embrace it. Enjoy it!

4. Don’t use Tripadvisor bring a guidebook.

 You learn quickly, if you don’t like somewhere you move on. My guidebooks were heavy and torn and well used and they are my memories, my souvenirs. Guidebooks get outdated much quicker than tripadvisor reviews, but sitting on a computer reading about other peoples experience – thats not what backpacking is about. Go and find out for yourself. Make your own mind up.

Tell me about your experiences? What do you think?  Old school or flashpacking? Should we keep the backpack?



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