Travel tips

DON’T Wait for Gas

Fill up here, fill up there, fill up eve.ry.where! You don’t know where the next station will be (I mean unless you’re stalking the GasBuddy app, but ain’t nobody got time for that). If you’re the adventurous type, the type who wants to wander down random roads, and who will detour in a split second, just fill up when you can. If you don’t, guess who needs to say goodbye to adventurous detours? YOU. We made sure to fill up at the half tank, every time. We pretended the last half didn’t count. What did using this road trip tip result in? Never having to worry about running out of gas. We win!

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Buy travel insurance

Shit happens when you are traveling. You get hurt, sick, or you lose something valuable. For these scenarios and countless others, you’ll need to have health insurance. Even if you are only going on a short trip, you should always travel with insurance. Have fun on your backpacking adventure but please do get insurance. This is our mantra: As a wise man once said, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you shouldn’t be traveling – so be sure to get your backpacker insurance sorted before you head off on a backpacking adventure! Traveling without insurance would be fucking stupid. I highly recommend World Nomads. Read our review on World Nomads.

DON’T Plan Too Much… or Too Little

I must be toying with you, right? Hear me out! Road trips are supposed to be fun and a bit spontaneous so planning too much and keeping yourself to a rigid schedule doesn’t allow for fun and adventure and random detours. Plan too little? And you’ll be wasting a large chunk of the day figuring out what you want to do (if you even have internet). We had a few “rules” in place… We wanted to drive on a certain route (the inland route, not the coastal route). We wanted to be outdoors and in nature (so no stops in big cities and walking around buildings), and we wanted to do pretty hikes with waterfalls and great views. We did a rough route with plenty of places to stop at that seemed to match our criteria but nothing was set in stone. If we didn’t have the time or if it was too out of the way or if the road was closed (wait for it…) there was no disappointment and plenty of other things just a few miles away to explore. Keep your options open but also have a few options on the table. Find a balance, don’t set expectations too high, and don’t pigeonhole yourself to an exact itinerary. It will be nothing short of miserable. This is one of my best road trip tips because it’s really one of the most important to keep in mind for the trip.

[box]READ MORE: How to plan a road trip[/box]

Pack a down jacket

A down jacket keeps you warm and doubles as a pillow on any journey; plus, down jackets are versatile enough to wear in cities and in the mountains. Unless you are only going to the tropics, pack a down jacket! Here’s our down jacket roundup.

Use maps!

Cell phone maps can be unreliable whether they are offline or not. If you plan on doing going on road trips or backcountry trekking, pick up a hard copy of a map and put it into use. Familiarize yourself with how to read a map properly before you start driving down the highway or out on the trails! Many local tourism offices or national park entrances will give or sell you a map.

Buy a Kindle

I’m all for the nostalgia of smelling a dusty old book, not to mention the tactile feeling of actually turning the page. But carrying physical books can be super tedious when you travel – they’re heavy, cumbersome, and difficult to pack. You also need to swap them out with others when you finish, which can be fun or frustrating depending on what’s available. I eventually packed a Kindle on one of my backpacking trips (upon receiving some packing travel tips from a friend). Since then, I’ve never looked back. Having a Kindle is such a convenience. You can literally store thousands of digital books on a device that is often half the size of a regular one. The newer ones have amazing battery life as well and can even behave in a very similar fashion to full-on tablets. So while I miss having a real book in my hands sometimes, I do not miss carrying them around. A Kindle is way better for traveling in my opinion. And there are so many good books to read.

Have safe sex

Have sex! Lots of sex! It’s good fitness… But be smart and safe about it. Use condoms or some other sort of protection whilst you are traveling and having sexual encounters on the road. Flings and one-night-stands are common on the backpacker trail. Keeping yourself and your body safe is an important lesson not just for traveling, but life itself. I won’t get all philosophical on you; just remember that STD infections are no fun, and if you take the steps to protect yourself you’ll be fine.

Be careful buying drugs

In many countries of the world, drugs are abundant and cheap. Backpackers and drugs seem to go together like fucking steak and chips. In many cases, you don’t have to look far to find whatever substance you seek. Sometimes though, buying drugs can put you in sketchy situations, either with dealers or with the police. Be smart about how and where you buy your drugs. Check a country’s policies, and if a country has especially strict drug policies, you should think twice before making a huge life mistake. Be aware that many dealers don’t give a shit about you… They may sell you MDMA and it could be speed instead (which is fine) or rat poison (which is not). In general, I tend to avoid buying MDMA unless a local friend who I trust provides the hookup. Weed is easy – what you see is what you get. NEVER try to smuggle drugs across an international border. The last thing you want is to end up in a jail filled with murderers and lunatics. Check out my post on drug advice for backpackers.

Don’t drink at bars every day

Going to a bar in a new place is fun; I get that, though it’s a little too fun. Going out for drinks is always going to be more expensive than buying drinks from a supermarket or shop and drinking in the hostel. Unfortunately, going out drinking at bars every night will murder your budget faster than you can put down five shots. Going out once in a while is ok, sure, but you should get used to buying booze from supermarkets or wherever it is cheapest. I still recommend buying the local stuff. You can try local beers, wines, and liquors at the supermarket, and for even cheaper too!

Memorize the location of your hostel

One of the best travel tips, for Europe especially, that I can give is to know where your hostel is and how to get it. Some cities, particularly the older ones, can be a labyrinth and navigating them can lead to frustration or, worse, danger. When you arrive at your hostel, seriously study where it’s located – learn the local landmarks, find where the bus/train lines are, plan intended routes. If you’re having trouble orienting yourself, at least ask for a business card from the hostel. You can show it to some locals and they can give you directions.