When you see a snow clad mountain on the horizon and set out to reach it, a thrill courses through your body that isn’t comparable to anything else. Backpacking isn’t limited to campers anymore; it has become a low-cost and independent form of travel that is quickly catching on. People usually start backpacking in their early twenties, when the lust for travel is too overpowering to keep them in the classroom or the cubicle, but they do not have enough money to fund their journeys. However, even after they reach a stage in life when they are financially stable, they cannot give up the unique way of travel, as it provides them much more flexibility and freedom than the traditional ways; backpacking has seeped into their bloodstream like a drug and they can’t get enough of it. Therefore, we bring you the ultimate backpacker’s guide to India.
Whether you are an adolescent or an adult, backpacking teaches essential life skills that no one should miss.
Backpacker’s Guide: 10 Tips for Backpacking across the Country
1. Plan Your Itinerary
Yes, backpacking requires some planning too. If you wish to go on a skiing trip to Kashmir and just head out the door without any planning, you might go in a season when the snow has melted. So choose your destination and the time of your vacation carefully.
Another crucial thing to think about is your budget. Decide your budget beforehand, as a lot of other things will depend on it, such as transport, which brings us to the next point.
2. Travel by Train
India has the fourth longest railway network in the world. If you board a train in India at one point, you can reach almost any other point in the country. This well-connected nature of the railways is what makes it one of the most preferred modes of transports in the country. As backpackers, you will often be travelling long distances, and trains can be a lot more comfortable for lengthy journeys as compared to buses. Another advantage of trains in India is that they are quite cheap. If you travel in Sleeper Class, you can save a lot of money, which is a blessing for a backpacker on a tight budget.
So the next time you plan a journey through the country, hop on a train. Chatting with strangers in your compartment and sitting near the train door as painted stations whistle by will make your trip much more memorable!
3. Travel Light
As the name suggests, backpackers carry their luggage on their backs. It gives you the flexibility to climb mountains and trudge through mud, without having to lug a suitcase around. It also saves you the cost of getting a locker or storage space. But a lot of travellers make the mistake of carrying too many things with them. Remember, if you pack too much it will make your journey less enjoyable as you will be panting carrying all that weight around. This is an essential tip in the backpacker’s guide that you must not forget!
Another thing that travellers often forget is that you can buy certain things on your journey or at your destination as well. So the next time you are packing a full bottle of shampoo, remember that you can just buy a few small sachets on the way!
4. Carry Spare Chargers and Batteries
Let’s face it- no matter how close to nature we get, we do need our gadgets once in a while, whether it is to contact someone during an emergency or to capture a moment on the reel. How annoying would it be to have your phone’s or camera’s battery die halfway through the journey? This is why your phone and camera chargers should be on your checklist. If you are going to a remote location where you won’t have electricity or charging points, carrying an extra phone charger and spare batteries for your torch can be crucial.
5. Use Mosquito Repellent and Hand Sanitizer
India is a land of colours, food packed with flavour, and a connection with the divine; however, it is also the land of dirty toilets, stagnant water, and Dengue Fever. This is the reason mosquito repellent and hand sanitizers should be essential items on every backpacker’s guide and list in India.
Whether you sleep on a train or at a camping site, don’t forget to apply mosquito repellent generously on all exposed areas of your body; tropical regions are known for outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases like Chikungunya, Malaria and Dengue. Also, make sure to use a sanitizer after using the train or public toilets. These simple things might save you a trip to the hospital.
6. Invest in a Water Bottle Purifier
Staying hydrated is extremely important for any traveller, but it is most important for a backpacker because they can spend hours walking under the sun. Buying bottles throughout the trip is not feasible, nor is it eco-friendly. Instead, invest in a bottle purifier that you will use for years to come. There are a lot of good bottle purifiers available in India, some of your options are – Eureka Forbes, LifeStraw, Oko India, Bobble, amongst many others. They can range anywhere between Rs. 300 – Rs. 3000.
7. Learn a Few Useful Phrases in the Local Language
India is a land of diversity, almost every state has its own language, and often there are many languages even within one state! One trick that you’ll find in all the backpacker’s guide is to go local! Though most of the people in the country can converse in English or Hindi, knowing the local language of a place can give you an advantage in bargaining with shopkeepers and taxi drivers. You don’t have to be fluent enough to be able to read the road signs, but just referring to an Auto Rickshaw driver as “kaka” in Maharashtra can lead to a nice discount!
8. Carry an Additional Small Bag
Never forget to carry a small tote bag on your journey. If you plan to stay in a place for more than a day and get accommodation, you can leave your belongings there during the day as you explore the place. For carrying your identity proof, cell phone, wallet and other essentials, use the smaller bag. This will save you a lot of hassle.
9. Ask the Locals for Recommendations
You might have heard this one a lot of times, but that is because it is one of the best tips any traveller can get. Typing in “Things to Do” followed by your travel destination on Google will fetch you a lot of results, but no one knows the nooks and crannies of a place like a resident. They know the less frequented gems of a place away from the throng of tourists.
10. Document Your Travel
Whether through photographs, souvenirs, or diary entries, don’t forget to record your trip.You will cherish these moments later, and who knows, maybe someday you can turn them into a blog or a book!
Remember that backpacking is all about flexibility, so keep these tips from the Backpacker’s Guide in mind, and be ready to embrace the unknown.
Let us know your favourite journeys across the country in the comments below!