Spiritual enlightenment, cultural exploration and a whole lot of walking; backpacking is all this and more. Despite its reputation as freedom personified, a great deal of planning is required for such a joyous journey, so make sure that you make the most of your travels by mapping it all out beforehand. Allow Mountain Warehouse to guide you through the pitfalls and pleasures of a footloose existence.
The initial steps:
Determine the amount of time you have to spend travelling. This will help you establish the kind of trip you will be taking; four months isn't really adequate for an around the world trip, but six months is probably too long for Thailand alone. Try to establish your time scale before making any other important decisions.
Who will you be going with? A friend, a group, or perhaps alone? Once you've established this, make sure you've considered whether you like doing the same thing. If they're a party animal and you like museums, there could be a problem.
Consider what you don't want to experience – whether its rainy seasons or crowded tourist peak times, be aware of which areas to avoid at which times according to your personal preferences.
Budget: this is important. Budget for the bare minimum, and then take considerably more than this. You can live cheaply, especially in areas like South East Asia and India, but there are always going to be surprise costs that you hadn't initially factored in.
Accommodation: What kind of accommodation do you want to live in? Hotels or huts? This will help you plan your budget and establish the kind of trip you are taking – which can also help when you're deciding who you want to travel with; if high maintenance Holly baulks at the thought of getting to grips with natures finest and you can't think of anything worse than a five star boutique hotel, it might be time to choose a new travel partner!
Look into an open jaw ticket – this allows you to fly into one place and out of another, which can save you valuable time and money. If you are under 26, it may be worth looking into youth passes, which can be considerably cheaper than your average travel ticket.
Write down any dates that are fixed; i.e. festivals, weekends with friends. This will allow you to form a loose structure around set points, which helps 'anchor' your overall plan.
Get a map, and circle all the countries that you know you definitely want to see in one colour, all the countries you wouldn't mind seeing in another, and the countries you actively aren't interested in a different one. Once you've established those countries that you really want to see, grab yourself more detailed maps of the places and circle the cities you want to see.
Don't just go for the obvious choice; research properly into different areas, with reference to their cultures, geography and points of interest – sometimes the less well known ones are the hidden gems!
Once you have your list: edit, edit edit. You need to allow yourself time to soak up each area properly without feeling rushed; it's better to experience five places properly rather than ten half heartedly.
Grab a calendar and start loosely planning where you want to go. As much as planning is important, it's called freedom for a reason, so don't plan down to the last second – just give yourself a rough idea of where you want to be and when.
Packing for your trip:
This depends on where you're going, but chances are you'll probably need a great rucksack or backpack and some reliable outdoor clothing like zip off trousers or a waterproof jacket for your travels. You'll definitely need some sturdy outdoor equipment like a tent, a sleeping bag and a ground mat, and extra items like a torch and hydration pack may come in handy. Lastly, hiking boots or walking shoes are a must for exploring the globe. Mountain Warehouse can provide all those little things you'll need while you explore the globe.