Travel tips

Use rideshare apps, not taxis

I hate taxi drivers. Over 70% of the negative encounters I’ve had whilst traveling have been with taxi drivers trying to fuck me over. Rideshare apps like Uber or Lyft make getting around cities both affordable and a lot more pleasant. I love that with Uber, the price is always fixed. You can save your haggling energy for other stuff instead! Moreover, in some cities – especially at night – Rideshare apps are safer. Grab works best in Asia.

Pack a camera

I used to hate traveling with a camera because I always thought they were cumbersome, expensive, and, in a way, took away from the raw experience. I opted instead for shitty photos from my camera phone and making imprints in my memory. After years of traveling, I kinda regret not having a camera all of those years. I could have taken some awesome photos on some Brazilian beach or in the streets of Buenos Aires. Instead, I have grainy pieces of shit. Do bring a travel camera with you. It doesn’t have to be the best Canon DSLR on the market – it could be something as simple as a point-and-shoot. The point is you have something to help record all of your amazing adventures. A friend of mine actually brings a Fuji Instax with him so that he can hand photos to local people, which, if you ask me is an awesome idea. If I could give my former backpacking self any piece of travel advice, it would be to do this.

Carry a water bottle, always

Having a water bottle with you is one of my best travel tips on this list. You’ll save money and you’ll reduce plastic going into the oceans… From a budget perspective, it is a complete waste of money in most countries to purchase water in one-liter quantities multiple times a day. Buying bottled water every day of your trip for months on end gets expensive. More importantly, the world is facing a HUGE plastic pollution crisis right now. Backpackers around the world contribute to this problem by purchasing plastic water bottles with staggering frequency. Don’t be that backpacker! Instead, reduce your plastic footprint: Perhaps the best thing you can do for our planet is to make sure you do NOT add to the plastic problem all over the world. Don’t buy one-use water bottles; the plastic ends up in a landfill or in the ocean. Instead, pack a tough and cool travel water bottle. For every Active Roots water bottle sold, we donate 10% to – an awesome initiative aimed at educating people on the risk of single-use plastic and helping to clean up our oceans. Help save the planet and pick up a travel water bottle.

Keep your backpack within sight

This is a travel safety tip that applies more or less to different regions. If you’re backpacking somewhere like Scandinavia or Japan, then chances are you can leave your backpack somewhere and it’ll be there when you return. If you’re backpacking in South America or Southeast Asia, keep that backpack in sight at all times! Countries like Colombia, Cambodia, Brazil, and South Africa are notorious for bag snatchings. If given the slightest chance, thieves will snatch your backpack right out from under your nose. They could steal it from the back of your chair, your feet in a park, the beach, or when you’re sleeping on the bus. Read up to see if certain countries suffer more or less from petty theft and then take the proper measures. Keep your bag literally on you while on the bus (I wrap a strap around my leg at all times). Get a bag tag if you’re putting it in a storage hold.

Eat street food

Experiencing new foods is one of my favorite parts of traveling. Some of the tastiest meals of my life have been purchased from random dudes on the street serving mind-blowing meals from tiny carts, food trucks, or market stalls. The best part? Street food is always the cheapest eating-out option in town. Eating street food does come with its own dangers. Almost every backpacker has a story about getting sick after eating street food somewhere in the world; I admit it does happen. Though the risk-reward ratio in the long-term is very positive indeed. You will probably get sick at least once from eating street food over the course of your backpacking career. This is your body reacting to bacteria it has never encountered before. For me, getting sick from street food is a rite of passage and my advice for backpackers is to weather it: before long your constitution will toughen up. I have eaten at some very questionable street food venues over the years, and I don’t really get sick these days. ‘Cept maybe in India,

Bring a deck of cards or a book of games

One of the first things that I do when I check into a hostel is to convince everyone to play a game of cards with me. Why? Because card games (and any travel game, really) are great ice breakers. I cannot tell you how many weird and awesome interactions I have had with people over a game as simple as rummy. If there’s alcohol involved, you can be sure that we’ll all be passing out together that night. If you need some help thinking of a game to play, then I suggest picking up a compendium of sorts that illustrates various games. One of my favorite types of games involve questions, like the ones you find in this one. Pick a copy to kill those awkward silences.

Pack a badass sleeping bag

Like a tent, having a quality sleeping bag is crucial to staying warm, safe, and comfortable whilst camping. Not everybody needs a sleeping bag – it really does depend on where you are going and how much camping you plan to do, but if you want to camp a sleeping bag often means the difference between a comfortable night’s sleep and a shit night’s sleep. The tent + sleeping bag combination means that you have shelter and warmth with you on your back where ever you go, which is an awesome feeling. Again, I’ll emphasize packing a quality bag. It’s worth spending the extra money if this is your main sleeping gig. Moreover, you want to pack a light sleeping bag that packs down as small as possible since you are stuffing everything you own inside a backpack! And make sure you pack a sleeping bag suited for the conditions you’re heading into!

Bring a microfiber towel

Relying upon hostel/hotel towels can get really annoying – they are either gross, stolen immediately, lost, or absent altogether(or cost extra). For that matter, nothing is worse than getting out of a lukewarm shower and drying yourself with something that feels like a cat’s tongue. I’ve gotten to the point where I just pack my own towel. Not just any old towel though – I insist upon using a good microfiber one – this travel towel set in particular. Microfiber towels can absorb more, dry quickly, and are very lightweight. For travelers, they are one of the most useful items that they can have in their bag. My travel tip for backpacking with one of these? Hold onto to it tightly because everyone will want it!

Pack a quality tent

I’m a broke backpacker – I camp. But it’s not just because I like to save money… Sleeping in a tent under the stars, away from WiFi signals and the huddled masses of humanity, is one of the main reasons why I go backpacking. I like to be in wild places (preferably with a joint and an attractive girl). Traveling with a tent does have one major disadvantage – it’s added weight. But, with a tent, you have the freedom to sleep in places you otherwise would not be able to. The door to multi-day hiking escapes suddenly opens. Getting off the beaten path just got much easier! On top of all of that, bringing a tent backpacking will save you money. On countless occasions, I have stayed at hostels that allowed me to pitch my tent outside for a fraction of the cost of staying inside the hostel itself. Plus, camping is the only way to backpack in places like Scandinavia affordably. It’s also the only way to see some pretty remarkable natural places only accessible by foot. If you are prone to spontaneous adventures, mountain exploration, and finding yourself in beautiful remote places, then having a tent with you is a no-brainer backpacking tip. If you are in the market for a solid, lightweight, and reliable tent, I highly recommend the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-person tent. This compact tent is up to the challenge of battling uncooperative weather. To get to know this tent better, check out my in-depth MSR Hubba Hubba Review. For a more budget, check out our review of the best budget backpacking tents to take traveling here.

Travel with a group to split costs

There are certain places in the world that are just really expensive to travel alone in. Backpacking in the USA, Norway Australia; all of these countries can be destroy your finances if you foot the bill for everything by yourself. One of the best budget travel tips that you can take advantage of is traveling with a larger group in order to split costs. Booking a shared apartment, paying equal parts for a rental car, switching up who pays for gas or groceries; these are great ways to save cash while traveling. It’s also a good way to travel safely. Larger groups are more intimidating to would-be thieves and everyone can watch each other’s back. It’s strength in numbers, my friends: backpacker travel gets easier with a team.