7 Safety Reminders for Backpackers

Backpacking is one travel activity that many people seem to shy away from. There’s too much risk, it’s not very comfortable, it’s tiring- there’s a lot of reasons why other travelers don’t like it. But for those who like it, its sheer fun and excitement is enough reason. However, backpacking is an inherently risky activity, that’s why caution must always be taken. Below are some tips to make sure you’re safe on the road, regardless of where you are

Keep Emergency Contact Information

Whenever you’re traveling to a place you’ve never been to before, there are important contact details you need to have.

  • Nearest police station
  • Nearest hospital or health clinic
  • Your hotel’s contact information
  • Your family or loved one’s contact information

Should anything happen, these numbers should be readily available. You want to be able to contact them on the fly, so putting these numbers on the speed dial on your phone will help a lot.

Don’t Wear Accessories that Scream “Expensive”

This advice might seem obvious, but some people are so used to wearing a promise ring or an engagement ring for him and her that they actually forget the monetary value of their accessories. It’s understandable if you can’t bear to momentarily part with your accessories that have a sentimental value behind them. But if you’re traveling to areas you’re not exactly familiar with (or confident with), it’s best to either put them in your front pocket for the meantime or leave them at home entirely.

Valuables in Front

Going through densely populated cities might make you feel safer than walking in the woods, but there are also dangers to be aware of. For one, regardless of how seemingly safe a city is, it’s still best to apply caution. Keep your valuables in your front pocket, and carry your backpack in front of you.

It might look weird, what with having a backpack in front, but it serves two purposes. For one, you’re protecting the contents because you can always see the bag, second, accessing anything is significantly easier- which is very helpful when you’re walking about and suddenly want to take a picture of something, or buy some street food that you like.

Learn How to Navigate

Though smartphones offer great solutions for navigation, you really can’t tell when your phone might run out of battery unexpectedly, or if data and internet reception aren’t available in your destination. In these cases, knowing how to read a map or navigate your way around a place is crucial. Be sure to study your destination ahead of time.

Learn the local transportation systems, major bus routes, and schedules, as well as major roads and avenues. If you are traveling to a nature spot, be sure to have a GPS in handy, extra batteries, and even flares if possible. 

Always Inform Family or Close Friends 

Even if you feel like escaping the chaos of the concrete jungle and just be away for a while, it’s still very important to tell at least one person who you trust about your plans to go on a trip. It can be alarming to people who care about you if you suddenly disappear without notice. And it goes the other way around, too. If something happens back in your place and you need to be there, the ability to contact you and know your whereabouts makes a huge difference.

Learn Common Expressions in Your Destination’s Vernacular

This can be a neat trick especially if you plan to visit a busy area where English is not their first language. Knowing a bit of their language can greatly help you get around, and you’ll get to interact with the locals too, which can enrich your experience there. Apart from learning how to ask for directions, how to pay for train or bus tickets, or how to order food, you should also try to learn how to express more serious situations.

Things like how to say no to a peddler or how to be polite in the local language can have a very different effect on the locals. It can show that you have made the effort to know their culture more and that you’re not a new tourist, which could possibly deter people with malicious intent.

Always Have a First Aid Kit

Finally, wherever you travel, always bring a first aid kit with you. If you are taking meds, don’t take the risk of forgetting them at home and think you can just buy similar ones where you’re going. Your first aid kit does not only mean meds and bandages either. Pack extras in there too, just in case, and add in a sewing kit as well because you’ll never know when you’ll need it when backpacking.

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