Hosteling: Tips from a Novice Backpacker (Part 2)

Alright, let’s get down to business. Time to get prepared.

First things first: planning to leave the country? You’re going to need a passport if you don’t have one already. If you are over 16 and living in Canada, you can now apply for your passport online. How convenient!

Do you like needles? Ones bigger than your pinky? No? Oh. Well, you might not like this next part. Vaccinations: it’s up to you to find out which shots you will need and then follow through on getting them. Keep in mind that it could take up to 6 months to get them all done, so plan ahead. Also, the needles aren’t bigger than your pinky, but if you did have any problem with large needles, I’m sure you would have been quite the hoot when I got my ears gauged last week.

In true business fashion, the next step is to get all of your paperwork together. This includes visas (the entry type, not the credit card, Ronnie—there’s a really funny joke here if you watch “Jersey Shore”… don’t judge!), hosteling memberships, international driver’s license (http://www.caa.ca/travel/travel-permits-e.cfm), travel insurance, etc. Make copies of these to leave with someone back home in the event that you lose one or forget to bring them into the shower with you (because the next step is to remember to bring a Ziploc bag to do just that. Laugh all you want. It makes sense).

Once you have all of that prepared, it’s time to figure out what to pack. As I mentioned last week, overpacking is my Achilles’ heel of traveling; however, upon further investigation I have discovered that I may actually have a few good ideas. Before I go on about how brilliant I am, though, I need to make one very important point up front for any young globetrotter to follow: NO JEANS. It pains me to say it (mostly because any online casino other material, e.g., khaki, reminds me of work) but all denim should be left at home. It’s heavy, it’s difficult to hand wash, and it takes forever to air dry. Alright, now that that’s done with, let’s go back to how savvy I am.

Bring two bags. This probably sounds completely wrong, but let me explain. If you are on a pretty extensive trip, you will have a fair amount of luggage and there is no way that you will want to drag that around with you all day. Most hostels are pretty secure and, as I mentioned last week, do offer some form of luggage security. This being the case, you should bring a small backpack (that shall henceforth be referred to as “The Daypack”) in which you will carry smaller, daily items such as:

• Camera, batteries, cards
• Insect repellent, sunscreen, sunglasses
• Water bottle, bottled water, water purification kit
• Change of clothes, toothbrush, small toiletries
• Writing supplies
• And more…

This will be extremely handy if for some reason your luggage is lost or delayed.

In terms of clothing, don’t base your decisions on fashion (see the NO JEANS rule above). Instead, focus on functionality. Footwear should be comfortable and durable—think hiking. Clothes should be lightweight, sometimes modifiable—think zip-off pants. Socks should be able to keep your feet warm and dry. You aren’t going to the gym. Bring a fleece jacket or sweatshirt as well. They do take up a good deal of space, but you’ll thank me later. Also, don’t fold your clothes when packing, roll them. Rolled clothes take up considerably less space.

My last tip for this week is to buy a sarong. What’s a sarong? I had no idea either. If you Google it, you’ll find that is length of thin fabric worn around the waist. I recommend this for both guys and girls. Not necessarily to wear as a skirt—that’s a personal choice—but instead as a dual-purpose towel and scarf. According to Hosteling International, this is a must-have item for any backpacker. I guess I’ll have to see it to believe it.

Anyway, keep in mind that this article and last week’s are non-exhaustive guides to traveling. There is a lot more to do before you can even consider train hopping through Europe or riding on camels in Cairo. I haven’t even gone into money belts, or what to eat or avoid eating. Make sure to do your research and then do some more just to be sure. Check out each individual location you plan on visiting. Investigate their culture (so not to offend), the conditions of living (“Can I drink this water?” Probably not.), and what there is to see and do. Once you’ve done all that, well then, BON VOYAGE!

Wow, that’s cheesy. Can you believe I nearly finished this post there? Anyway, be sure to pack your own toilet paper!

Not even joking.

More information on backpacking and travel can be found here: http://www.hihostels.com/web/t-hints.en.htm

To find out more about my non-traveling life, you can follow me here: http://www.twitter.com/Phraserify

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