When planning your first backpacking trip it is crucial to take everything into consideration. It is inevitable that throughout the preparation process you will end up tearing your hair out and reconsidering the whole thing. For the first time traveller it is easy to resort to the basic template of what to remember, unaware that the little things are sometimes just as important as knowing your train routes and securing that place at a hostel. Below are some valuable yet minor details that even the most organised person might not consider! Preventing you from learning as you go but instead being in the know!
As time is precious travelling through the night is the first way to ensure you get the most out of your days, especially if your journey is longer than 7 hours. If you are planning a night train make sure you reserve a bed! Arriving at your train for 10pm ready for a proper nights sleep only to discover you have a seat stuck between two strangers, you will not be a happy bunny the next day. Decent nights sleep are crucial, so even though a night train may save you time and money, if there are no beds available resort back to the trusty hostel!
After the initial excitement of being on a train in Europe, boredom hits you, even a 3 hour journey from Vienna to Budapest can start to drag. Make sure you have enough entertainment for the trains, if you are a reader, take a book that you don’t mind leaving behind. Leaving your book at a hostel means fellow travellers can drop and pick up a new book. Even though a kindle seems ideal, its best to avoid taking valuables.
Copious amounts of walking and sight seeing can become exhausting and the commute by train to your next destination can seem like a god send for your feet. Starting a new book can require concentration you don’t have. Alternatively take one of your favourites that you have read time and time again, this way reading can be used as a comforter and a method of down time while travelling all those miles! Using this time to nap and listen to music are also useful ways in making sure you get the relaxation time you need.
If you are hopping back and forth to different countries that require different currencies, instead of wasting time looking for a currency exchange office, make use of the cash points at the station as soon as you arrive at your destination. Get out too little than too much, that way if you under spend you aren’t left carrying around all the extra change. You can always go back to the cashpoint if needed.
Drop your backpack off at your hostel to avoid being weighed down, its exhausting and slows you down, inevitably cutting into your valuable sight seeing time. Take a smaller back pack for during the day which can hold your essentials. This may seem obvious but over estimating what you really need is always a rookie error! Stick to money, water, sunglasses, camera, phone, map and passport! Furthermore, when packing your main backpack be sure to pack as minimal clothes as possible to keep the load down. Another tip, most hostels provide washing facilities but don’t always bargain on it! Pack yourself a mini hand wash detergent, washing your clothes by hand may be your only option!
While you’re at the hostel take the time to ask the reception on where the best places to visit are and nip them in the bud first. This way you can save valuable time and you don’t miss out! Hostels also provide maps, so remember to pick it up before you set off, google maps won’t save you as you won’t necessarily have access to the internet!
It is easy for a first time traveller to want to make the most out of their inter-rail ticket and go to as many countries as possible. From experience, it’s not the best thing to do! It is essential that you don’t try and cram in everything, make sure you have a sufficient amount of time in each place so you aren’t rushing around. Travelling is still meant to be a holiday after all!
Choose a suitable travel buddy, if you’re a morning person and active at the break of dawn and your fellow traveller is a night owl who prefers a lie in and hard core partying, maybe re-consider your options of who to set off on your travels with.
Lastly, all the physical exercise can result in the need to snack throughout the day, it’s advised to bring a reasonable amount of dry foods from home. This includes dried fruit, cereal bars, crisps and nuts, food that is filling, doesn’t go off but more importantly light and manageable to carry in your main backpack. As it is advisable to bring enough supplies that will last you the whole trip, depending how long you’re travelling of course! This manages your spending and takes the pressure off you hunting down a cheap supermarket!