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6 Tips to Backpack the World

Things I Wish I Knew Before I Left

Need some advice? Well, look no further. I may not have traveled the ENTIRE world, lets be realistic... but I've visited enough places to learn a thing or two about traveling. My first stop was New Zealand, then Nepal, Scotland, London and Ireland. Within a span of 5 months I learned many things and created many memories, and hopefully I can help you do the same.

1. First and foremost, if you're traveling with a friend, make sure it's one of those friends that you can hang out with 24/7 and not get irritated.

My travel buddy and I were previously roommates and are comfortable enough around each other that we did not feel obligated to hangout or talk to each other. Don't get me wrong, traveling with a friend is great but trust me, you'll have days where you want your space or that you wish you were alone. So make sure when you're seeking out that perfect travel buddy, don't pick that friend that you love one day but can't stand the next.

2. Woofing and Help EX

What are those you ask? Well, they're extremely convenient websites that you can subscribe to which set you up with work for accommodation/food opportunities. In New Zealand we had some AWESOME experiences and managed to save some funds while staying with out Help EX hosts. For a small fee, you create a profile on one of these sites and you can scan through all the work opportunities available in the country or area you're in. Once you find a match, you send a quick hello and mention your experience and interest in their position and hope that they'll host you! Generally, they mention a time requirement, whether it's for a week or a number of months, so you can pick and choose to suit your needs. Did I mention that we ended up going sky diving for FREE through one of our HELP EX hosts? Not only do you save money and have a chance to meet some locals, but some pretty awesome opportunities pop up.

3. Hostels

Now this isn't really a new tip... all backpackers know to stay at hostels. But if you snoop around enough, you can often find a hostel that is in need of some workers. Some places offer pay, but often they'll also offer a work exchange opportunity. We ended up staying for about three weeks in a quaint New Zealand town; we were provided free accommodation in exchange for 2 hours of work about 5 days a week. A pretty good deal if you ask me. Staying at a hostel for an extended period allows you to develop friendships and hear stories from travelers from all over the world. We met people from all walks of life with their own unique story to tell and it brought so much value to our experience. 

4. Maps.Me: The App of the Century

OKAY. If you could have one app, this should be it. This app is the app of all mapping apps. It allows you to track your location and use GPS without wifi, which wins big points when you're a broke backpacker with no cellphone data. Not only does it have GPS, but in New Zealand it had options to find everything you need including campsites, showers, wifi, and things to do. This map saved us from driving in circles a number of times and helped us see the top rated but affordable things in the area. 

5. Public vs. Private Transportation

This tip varies depending on the country you're visiting. In London, don't even consider taxis or Ubers; the Tube will take you everywhere and anywhere you need. The Tube along with the App City Mapper, and you will successfully find yourself wandering London like a local and most importantly not lost. Just ensure you search up your location while using wifi to avoid data charges. In countries like Nepal, it depends on how uncomfortable you'd like to be. We had a 7 hour drive ahead of us, and boy am I glad we paid a little bit extra for a private bus. One you see the amount of people and the lack of organization with public transportation, you'll understand why. If you're looking at visiting the top tourists spots in Kathmandu, go with a private transport option. Our driver took us to 6 separate sports and we paid equivalent to what it would've cost to catch a new cab to each location, and we always had a guaranteed ride. New Zealand varies depending on the amount of time you want to spend there. We traveled for about 3 months, so it was a lot more cost effective to purchase out own car (we slept in it) rather than renting a camper. Although, if you plan on spending only a few weeks, you may want to stick with the rented campers. They come fully equipped and you avoid the hassle of buying and selling your car. 

6. Connections

I promise you that these will come in handy. Make friends wherever and whenever possible. Along the way I managed to save a monumental amount of money through utilizing my connections. When in New Zealand I ended up staying with a family I had never met because my mom happened to know someone whose family lived there. I stayed and ate for free and met the most adorable little kids. In Scotland I stayed with a good friend and her family for almost a month; this enabled me to travel around the area while saving on both food and accommodation. Initially I wasn't planning on visiting London but one of my good friends was attending University there, so why not? Basically, what I'm saying is, be sure to see if ANYONE you know is willing to take you in, even if for a day. In the long run you'll end up thanking them as it might take you places you never even anticipated going and you'll manage to save a small sum.

I hope my experiences will help your future travel and I'll be sure to share any other tips that come to mind!

T. 

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