Backpacker and Travel Tips from people who have been there and done it

•The little plastic containers that camera film comes in are excellent for storing things. The best use I found for them was salt and pepper holders.

• If you’re a drinker, make sure you have your own wine/bottle opener! Sometimes you can get them as key rings. You’ll never find one in a hostel cause they’re constantly stolen.

• Always travel with a pack of cards. It’s the best way to make friends and a lifesaver if you’re staying in a hostel with no TV.

• A sarong has many uses. It acts as a tablecloth during a picnic. A wrap around if you’ve unfortunately managed to fry your legs to a crunchy crusty crisp in the midday sun. A belt that keeps your trousers up. A blanket to sit on while relaxing on the beach or in the park. Finally, my personal favourite, if you’re lucky enough to get a bottom bunk, you can pin it under the mattress above so you get a little more privacy.

• Don’t leave home without a journal. The scribbled stories from Singapore , tales from Thailand and memories of amazing people and places will be what you treasure when you’re in your 50s. Think of it less as a journal or diary and more as the story of your travels. Your own little book!

• The best way to carry detergent is in a plastic water bottle. It’s both safe and convenient. Some people have to learn the hard way that, glass bottles can’t withstand long drops, even when they’re safely snuggled in your rucksack and paper bags tend to tear. (Seriously, I’m not that dumb, but…we’ll say no more.)

• If you treat yourself to a meal in a fast food place, make full use of your trip and stock up on all those lovely sachets of salt, pepper, ketchup, mustard, vinegar, jam, napkins and anything else you can get your hands on that’s free, without getting arrested of course! Pulling your T-shirt out and bending it back to make a rather sizeable pouch is the best way to carry your new found friends!

• Always carry a roll of toilet paper with you. It comes in so handy in so many ways. Toilet paper – not just an ass wiper.

• Find out the population of your own country, city and any other fascinating facts, preferably before you leave home, or alternatively, while you’re travelling. The Internet’s filled with information that should have been stuffed into our heads while we were in school. You don’t want to look stupid when a foreigner asks you simple questions about home. And believe me, they will.

• When buying international phone cards…shop around. When ringing home, always pay for the local call instead of using the free phone number on the card. You’re charged a fortune for this and your card won’t last half as long. It’s a right slimy dead fish slam in the face when you think you have half an hour to talk to your loved one at home, while in reality you get four minutes.

• Invest in a VIP, HI or any other form of backpacker card if you intend to stay in alot of hostels. You’d be amazed how much money you’ll save over the duration of a few months. Most cards give a discount of at least a dollar/pound per night in a hostel.

• Some hostels do free pickups from the airport, train station or bus station. Email your chosen hostel before hand and check it out, saves on taxi or bus costs. It also prevents you from fumbling around lost while trying to balance a ridiculously enormous rucksack on your back.

• There’s usually a free food shelf in most hostels. The minute you enter the kitchen in the morning, check it out! When people move on they don’t want to be carrying extra bags of pasta that weigh them down. Refrigerators in hostels usually get cleaned out once a week, so get in there while the goings good. It may sound desperate, but believe me, when you’ve been travelling long enough and finances are almost none existent, a bag of pasta could mean the difference between eating dinner or keeping everyone in your dorm room awake with unearthly hungry stomach growling syndrome.

• Always wear a pair of cheap, plastic flip-flops while showering. Hundreds of people use hostel showers and I’ve heard some really bad stories about what people get up to in them.

• Don’t be one of those people who has a rucksack full of plastic bags. Invest in a nice little wash bag for yourself and your bits and bobs. Sleeping in a dorm and being woken by a rustling plastic bag at 5 in the morning is frankly a pain in the ass, and no backpacker will thank you for disturbing their sleep!

• Especially for the girls. Sometimes it’s difficult for us lady backpackers to look and smell our best. If you’re feeling a little yucky or you’re heading out somewhere nice for the night, nip into any large department store and sample their perfume. If you smell pretty, you feel pretty. Sure, while you’re at it, maybe a little nail varnish or eye shadow wouldn’t go a stray. Boys, same goes for you, sample some nice after-shave. And remember fellas, experimentation with colours is always encouraged.

• Some large city libraries have free Internet access. Libraries are also one of the best places to spend a rainy day. You can brush up on your next destination in the travel section and get hostel names and numbers from books such as the Lonely Planet.

• Always check out the Tourist Information Centre in the city that you are visiting. They’re the people who know what’s on for free. Many cities have free admissions or cheaper ticket days to galleries, museums and cinemas.

• For Gods sake, always carry insect repellent. If you’re moving on to a different country don’t be naïve and think, “I’ll buy it when I get there!” Those little bastards that bite will have you in bits before you even know it! If you have been bludgeoned to death by the feckers and tend to react badly to them, take some anti-histamines, they’ll calm your bites right down!

• And remember, you’ll probably never get a chance like this again…Travelling broads the mind. Teaches you lessons that remain with you forever. You see things you couldn’t have even imagined and meet people that are so extraordinarily fascinating. So talk to everyone you meet, learn as much as you can about what and who surrounds you each day, laugh lots, forget about the financial debt you are incurring and discover who you really are!

This is your time-out to live the way you want and be who you always knew you could be!

“Think About Your Next Trip”

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