So finally you have decided to let it all go and backpack your way through India. It is an absolutely amazing feeling and a challenge on its own, and I am glad that you have decided to take it up. I am a traveller, and I believe that every travel is an experience on its own, but some experiences are really not worth it-especially the bad ones. Putting here in this piece, some of the things I wish I knew before I decided to backpack that will help you avoid the bad experiences and indulge in the good.
- Be your own tour planner
It might be a real pain, but there is nothing like planning your own tour. If you leave it to a travel planner or a friend, they might end up planning something that they would like to see, which you may end up finding absolutely boring. You know yourself best, so sit down and do your own research. The internet will contain lists of lot of places, pick and choose the places that interests you as a person. Look for reviews on multiple sites about the places and also do a small background research on the timings of the places and any other things to avoid or have on you while visiting these places. You sure can’t cover all the places in one go, so prioritise and keep them ready in case of time/money constraints.
- Make a budget and keep your accounts clean
Before starting your journey which will see the use of much of your hard saved money, make a budget of your proposed expenses. Make sure you include food, accommodation, travel and miscellaneous expenses. Even if not very accurate, make a vague one. This will help you plan your expenses much more effectively. Once this is done and you start you journey, a habit of keeping track of all the expenses should start. However small or big it is, try to note it down and do a consolidation at the end of the day. Many a times you might be spending way more than you are supposed to, or you might be being too stingy. This will help you ensure that you won’t have to leave your trip halfway.
- Be a pro at the art of packing and unpacking
Yes it is true that with practice comes perfect, but still be prepared to pack and unpack a record number of times. The less time you spend packing and unpacking, the more time you will have for seeing new places and meeting new people. Check out this link which I found handy: http://www.golivexplore.com/packing-tips-for-backpackers/
- Carry the Holy Bible of travel with you
Yes you heard it right, the holy Bible of travel. I am sure you have often seen foreigners walking around with books in their hands figuring out directions and places, this book in their hands my friends is the Holy Bible of travel and it is called The Lonely Planet. This book will tell you everything you need to know about where to eat, drink and sleep, what to see and when to see in the place that you are travelling to in India. Though it is a little bit expensive to buy the paperback, there is also an e-book you can get online. Trust me, this will take you from a normal traveller to a travel agent in one go.
- Never reveal all your plans to anyone
Once you start travelling, you will constantly keep meeting a lot of people. There will be hot girls on the way, uncles, aunties and families. You might end up having a deep conversation with some too. But never, ever reveal your travel plan to them. Trust me you might be tempted, but DO NOT reveal your whole plan to them. It is better to be safe than sorry. Enough said.
- Make a travel memoir
When you travel, make sure that you make a memoir of your experiences. Now this my friends will be a really daunting task. When you travel, lots of things will happen, and you might not be able to remember or recollect all the funny/interesting incidents from the back of your head once the travel is over. And also if two years down the line you want to revisit your travels, you will only have photos to do that and photos don’t speak. That makes writing absolutely necessary. You might have to write on the train, in late hours of the night, after you are very tired, while you are drunk but nevertheless WRITE. Trust me, you will thank me later.
- Make peace with your body
Now for most of us who haven’t been taking good care of our body, suddenly putting our body through a lot of stress will take its toll. So please make sure you listen to your body and give it ample amount of rest. Don’t make it ask you for rest by making you sick, but treat it well so that it gets the rest it deserves. Even if that means skipping a few places, sleeping for some more time and eating 3 meals a day, when you only have money for 2. You mess with your body, it will mess with your trip.
- Ask and you shall receive
- Have a trusted friend back home
Once you start travelling you will understand that technology still has a lot of limitations. There will be times or a lot of times when your internet won’t be working or your transactions won’t be going through. For all those times, have a really good friend back home entrusted with the job of taking care of your logistics and other issues. Credit his/her bank account with some money and please him/her enough to be on your beck and call, for trust me you will need that person. And don’t forget to get presents for your friend while on your trip for he/she shall be our true saviour!
- Look for signs, they will help you
Now this might seem a little spiritual and all, bit it is true as far as I have experienced. And since you are taking tips from me, you might as well take this. Keep your mind open for signs, by signs I mean incidents, people or experiences that will guide you when you are confused or are looking for answers. Do not consider everything as a sign and start searching for it, go on your normal paths and if need be, these signs will guide you home.
So there you go, hope this does some good to you. Wish you Godspeed. Always remember-
“Travelling-it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a story-teller”