For many of us, traveling is an addiction. The more we travel, the more we want to get out and explore.
If you’ve spent quite a bit of time living out of a suitcase, however, you may find that you’re interested in getting a bit further off the beaten path, perhaps on a backpacking or trekking trip.
Going from globetrotter to backpacker, though, can seem like a daunting task, so it’s important that you know what you’re getting into before you head off into the great outdoors. To get you started, here are our top tips for making the most of your first outdoor expedition.
1. Plan Ahead And Be Prepared
Although experienced travelers can often string together a fantastic metropolitan getaway at a moment’s notice with relative ease, you’ll want to put a bit more effort into planning your first backpacking trip.
Well, in an urban environment, you’re never too far from help, and you can always do a quick Google search or stop by a tourist office to get information if you’re feeling a bit lost. In the backcountry, however, you need to be self-sufficient.
Before you head out into the mountains, be sure to plan your trip as much as you can. Research your destination and ensure that you know what to expect when you arrive. As you plan, ask yourself questions, such as:
- Where will I sleep each night? In a campground, a backcountry campsite, or an alpine hut?
- Will I have access to food and water, or do I need to bring my own?
- What will the weather conditions be like during my trip?
- Where can I get help in an emergency?
- How long will I be camping for?
- Am I in good enough physical shape for my proposed itinerary?
- Should I consider hiring a guide?
Asking yourself these questions can help guide your planning process, ensuring that you have what you need to make the most of your adventure.
2. Have The Right Gear & Supplies
When you head outside, having the right gear and supplies is essential.
Although this is also true when traveling to cities and more urban environments (anyone who’s ever had sore feet after walking all day across a new city in the wrong shoes will know what I mean), your gear is your lifeline when you’re outside.
Therefore, it’s vital that you have the right equipment and supplies organized before you ever leave home. This includes things like your tent and sleeping bag, but also extends into proper meal planning for when you’re in the backcountry.
3. Learn Some Essential Outdoor Living Skills
Backpacking in the mountains is a skill that takes time to develop, just like seamlessly navigating public transportation in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language.
While slick use of Google translate and a bit of resourcefulness might be able to get you out of a tricky situation while traveling abroad, though, there’s no substitute for know-how and experience in the backcountry.
If you’ve never camped before, have no fear! Everyone has to start somewhere.
It’s often best for a first-time backpacker to try a short, overnight trip in a local campground or camping area near your home before you plan your first international expedition. While you prep for your warm-up trip, do your research and learn a bit about some of the essential skills you need for outdoor living, such as:
- Navigation with a map and compass
- Starting a fire
- Wilderness first aid
- Campsite selection and set up
- Camping hygiene
- General safety and outdoor hazards
Then, on your first few trips, you can try to put your newfound skills into practice to see where you still have room for improvement. Remember, practice makes perfect, so getting these skills dialed before you leave on a big trekking trip is important.
4. Consider Hiring A Guide Or Joining A Group
Finally, it’s never a bad idea to hire a guide or join a group backpacking trip. In fact, doing so is a great way to learn outdoor skills, especially if you’re a first-time camper.
Guided backpacking and trekking trips are particularly great if you’re traveling overseas. Not only do guided trips help you learn more about the culture and history of the places you’re visiting, but they’re also a fantastic way to engage in sustainable travel that helps to give back to remote mountain communities.
Oh, and guided trips are also an excellent place to meet other like-minded backpackers who might just become your new favorite travel buddy down the line. What could be better?
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