I've traveled a lot on business, but have always been intrigued by the idea of traveling the world for fun. A couple of sets of friends of mine have done just that:
- Tom Andrus took his whole family around the world on a very reasonable budget, which you can read about on his "Six In The World" site;
- Warren and Betsy Talbot not only did the same thing, they have written books about how to go about it, which you can find out more about via their "Married With Luggage" site.
When you think about international travel - even on a smaller scale than that of Tom, Warren, and Betsy - one of the big questions is how to travel affordably. After all, anyone who has been on vacation recently knows it can be an extremely pricey experience.
In order to see the world in a more budget-friendly way, many people are intrigued by the idea of embarking on a backpacking adventure. Instead of staying at hotels, urban backpacking trips typically involve staying in hostels, which can save travelers thousands of dollars. But before you call the airlines and book your flight to Europe or wherever your case of wanderlust inspires you to go, it’s a good idea to take a little time beforehand and consider how backpacking and hostel vacations are different from a suitcase and hotel excursion.
The first thing to decide is if you want to travel alone or with a group. While having the freedom to go where you want and see what you want is appealing, there's also safety in numbers. Speaking of which, travelers should make it a point to protect their identity while they're away; for example, signing up with Life Lock before heading on vacation is a good idea, as is investing in a money belt and keeping your passport well-protected.
Most hostels will have lockers, but it doesn't hurt to pack some security accessories. Pacsafe Locks both cover and secure your pack to keep it from being stolen or tampered with.
Packing a Backpack
Packing a backpack for a vacation takes time and preplanning. As an article on the Wild Backpacker website noted, the first order of business is to purchase a backpack that'll fit all of the clothing, supplies and other gear you'll need. Even if, you already have an older backpack that will hold a lot of items, the article suggests investing in a newer, more lightweight model that will still hold a ton of stuff while also saving your back.
In order to pack everything properly, travelers should lay out everything they intend to bring in one spot. For instance, if you're going outside of the United States, you’ll probably want to bring a travel adapter, as well as a headlamp, at least one pair of extremely comfortable yet sturdy shoes, and the correct kind of clothing, for the climate you’ll be visiting. Once you have everything you need gathered together, the Wild Backpacker article suggests loading your pack with the lightweight items at the bottom, than medium-weight, and then finally the heaviest items. Fill all empty spaces with your smaller items like a GPS, snack foods, bug spray and toiletries.
For anyone who is unsure about what to expect, an article that appeared in the Huffington Post offers a first-hand account about the many benefits of staying in such affordable accommodations. In the author’s experience, hostels are clean, welcoming and hospitable places to stay, filled with friendly staff and guests. Many hostels tend to have staff on-site 24 hours a day, which helps with security. Hostels are also extremely easy on the wallet, costing as little as a few dollars a night.
With a little preplanning and a sense of adventure, it's certainly possible to get out and see the world for far less than a typical vacation.