12 Thoughts on Backpacking Asia


I’ve come up with and by that I mean the idea and the results will appear as I write this, some thoughts on backpacking. If you’re thinking of going backpacking, you may want to read this list as it may save you money, time or both.

1) Don’t buy anything before you leave: You’ll find cooler clothes for cheaper and everything else you may need here. Need a new anything? You can get it here. You could even buy your backpack here cheaper. All you need is some small crappy suitcase you can ditch when you get here and some random clothes for a few days that if you didn’t bring with you, moths would eat. Leave your “nice clothes” behind, they’ll just get ruined.

They will try and sell you stomach pills at the travel clinic, you don’t need them. I paid $55US for some in Canada before I left and have never used them. Anything you need in Asia you can get incredibly cheap. That said, do get all your shots. You’ll know what I mean once you get here. Also get insurance, you may just fracture your face, it happens.

2) Don’t worry about some super fancy point and click camera: The only people who need those are photographers that don’t get involved in all sorts of crazy adventures. What do I mean? Well if you go “photographing” on a lovely sunny day then run into mystery person X and end up going somewhere, that turns into dinner then run into others and next thing you know its 10PM. You’re no where near your guest house and you still have all your gear.

It also makes you look really touristy and I am convinced received differently. If you just cruise around like someone enjoying themselves (which you should be) and have a camera in your pocket, you can get amazing shots and not always be “out there” as a tourist. I hate having my new point and click and as a result, I seldom carry it, missing out on lots of great “possible” photo opportunities.

3) Don’t over plan stuff: I read so many blogs and meet so many people who have everything planned to the minute aka at that exact moment they will be eating some rare food they read about somewhere. Just keep an open mind and an open itinerary. The PLACES are not what will make your trip, the experiences and memories will.

What if you meet some interesting people you may never see again? You’d feel lame to leave. Think of traveling like this… Better to see few places and have countless amazing times than see countless places and have few amazing times, yes?

4) Hope for the best, don’t fantasize: Don’t expect to get robbed or sick or anything bad. Also don’t expect to meet the love of your life or have this picturesque day in some random location that could never be replicated than in your head. Just keep an open mind and assume you’ll have a great time. I’ve only looked forward to 1 thing on this whole trip, that was a steak. The steak sucked and the fries were cold. The rest of the trip I’ve just taken as it comes and it’s been, well, amazing?

5) Budget More Than You Think: If you read online travel blogs or any source they have “rough budgets”. If you think you can live in that budget, ask yourself how much you’re like “that person”. Some budgets are near nothing, also what do they do with their time? You’re traveling… You don’t need to go waste money but you do need to go have fun, meet new people. I’ve read some ridiculously low budgets and thought… Wow, that would be like staying home and living on welfare, not so fun.

Also if you like to go out and meet people, you’ll probably notice that “nightlife” is one of your biggest expenses. Most of the people I’ve met that are travelers would agree. Most of the bloggers I’ve met don’t party much at all, if ever so the estimates you read are most likely unrealistic at best. Do you ever go out with a massive crew of cool people and have 1 beer at 9pm then call it quits for the night? If not don’t budget like someone who does, or doesn’t even go out. Also factor in the late night food, perhaps bar entrance fees, cabs… You name it.

6) Prioritize and work around that: What do you want out of the trip? Do you want a photo of yourself in front of every monument in Asia? If so plan for it and budget for it, that is your priority. Do you want to meet countless great people that you’ll probably stay in touch with? Prioritize around that and spend more time going out. Do you want to volunteer or teach or work somewhere? Prioritize around that… If you set your course you’ll find others on your course. If you make no plan and are “down for whatever”, you’ll meet people on that same vibe too.

7) Don’t worry about meeting people: Meeting people traveling is 100X easier than back home. Back home you say “Hi, how’s it going?” to a stranger and they look at you like “do I know you?” On the road, they’ll most likely reply, “pretty good, where you from?” A conversation ensues. Back home you ask someone for a lighter and you light your smoke, on the road you ask someone for a lighter, the typical conversation ensues and next thing you know you’re splitting a taxi somewhere and then maybe even a guest house room. Also when in foreign countries, traveling at night, travelers tend to stick together. Just start some small talk and if you’re going to the same place and have a likable personality, you’ve just formed a mini crew.

8) Don’t act flashy: Wherever there are lots of tourists, travelers, backpackers, whatever… There are always some low lives trying to steal, cheat or lie. Don’t be the most obvious target, just look like one of the countless others. This does not mean you need long hair and body odor, just don’t dress up like you’re back home. You’re not back home and no one cares. That said, do buy locks for your backpack and use them whenever you travel. Purely based on necessity, if you don’t work online or run a blog, ditch the laptop. One more thing to carry / worry about. Internet cafe’s EVERYWHERE.

9) Get a Facebook account: The days of trading phone numbers are somewhat over, the days of exchanging emails are even over, it’s Facebook. People switch sims constantly and if you meet 000’s of people like you’ll remember who “sarabear1985′ is a few months later. If someone sends you a msg on facebook, you can easily be refreshed and it’s just a common area. I don’t even get a phone anymore, I did at first but why bother? If you have an account – join here!

10) Be yourself, really yourself: When you start out, the more true to yourself you are, the better your odds of having an amazing trip. Remember, you’re not in your “forest back home” filled with similar, often times judging animals with elephant memories… You’re an ocean away in a forest or jungle with every animal known to this planet. Go meet other animals like yourself and enjoy the company of other animals that compliment you.

11) Trustworthy friend for scene reports: Better to talk to one or two good friends back home about “what’s new” than many. A good friend will give you the score, feeling homesick? Ask them what is new back home if they are your friend and being honest the answer is usually “nothing man, same old, same old”. So and so got engaged, so and so is pregnant. Jimmy got a new job and Sarah dumped Paul.

12) Never have a bad day: Some days are obviously better than others and no matter how “ridiculous” your trip is, every day can’t be a blockbuster. Just always make the most of each day because the reality for 99.9% of travelers is that it’s going to end one day. Remember why you left and what a typical day back home is. There is always something to do, someone new to meet or another bus to catch.

This is easier for the older set who have had jobs. For younger people who have never sat at a desk for 8 hours a day for years, it’s easy to take it for granted… Don’t. When you’re older these will probably be some of the greatest memories if you have an open mind, be yourself and embrace everything that is new.

These are just 12 random thoughts that came to mind…

When open to the unknown the coolest things can happen.

Often things you never even thought possible…

Don’t fight it, ride it.

Tips hat,

P.S: Did you know you can get a 3 month visa on arrival to Tanzania for… $50US!? #fact.



    October 14, 2010 at 12:42 pm


  2. Rob

    October 14, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    Hahha no, if you were on Gmail we’d talk all the time.

    Glad to hear about Mr.X and Ms H.

    When in Africa I won’t be running with a cheetah but I will be riding Lions, I think.

    Stay well my friend.

    Went golfing yesterday, got rained out. Great driving range session though. Then again most driving range sessions are “ok”.

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