First-time advice for backpackers in South East Asia - my tips and tricks

 Well hello to my reader chums! Backpacking has my heart. I've backpacked on two occasions, once in 2019 and again, earlier this year. During those periods, I travelled for two months and three months and each trip taught me loads about myself, how I travel and what I love about the world.

If you're considering going backpacking for the first time or planning your trip, here's my guide to first-time advice for backpackers.

First time advice for backpackers in South East Asia - my tips and tricks

Don't overpack

You'll be carrying your backpack around the entire duration of your trip and the last thing you'll want is something to weigh you down too much. I always say, pack what you think you need and then half it. When it comes to clothes and toiletries, you can buy more when you're out there. Plus, the weather is incredibly hot, so you won't need to wear a lot. Backpacking isn't a fashion show, you don't need fancy clothes, and you should pack lightweight layers, which are practical and easy to wear for every occasion, and weather. Trust me, a lot of your clothes will get ruined!

Always overcompensate with budget - and have a safety net

South East Asia is cheap, that's why it attracts a large amount of backpackers every single year. Although, despite the cheap price of everything, you want to overprepare just in case. Whether you find an expensive excursion when you're roaming around, you see a souvenir you fall in love or you want to treat yourself to a posher restaurant. On the flip side, you never know what expenses will show up, such as getting in an accident, losing money or getting scammed. You can't plan for the unexpected and that's why it's good to overcompensate so you'll have the budget to cover it.

Buy travel insurance

Similar to overcompensating with money, you want to be prepared for the unexpected and that's where travel insurance comes in. Travel insurance is essential for medical needs abroad and anything else you need to be covered, such as cancellation of the trip or any outdoor activities you are thinking of going on. Travel insurance will help cover you for any instances or things that don't go to plan, saving you loads of money to shell out at that moment.

Have cash on you always 

South East Asia is renowned for using cash for all payments, such as restaurants, cafes, transport and souvenirs. Due to this, don't expect to show up and pay for everything with a card. Always have cash on hand, or load all your money on a travel card/bank card and take it out in one of the local ATMS. 

Research the 'dos' and 'dont's' of your destination's culture

Every destination has different rules and cultural norms and it's important to be respectful when you jet off somewhere new. Do all the necessary research when it comes to societal norms to ensure you're respectful of the location and the people. This could be covering up in temples or not breaking any laws of the land.

Prepare for the weather seasons

The seasons are wildly different, from dry to wet and it's important to prepare for both. Dry seasons mean it's hotter and you need to be packed and prepped for that. Whilst wetter seasons, you'll likely experience more dangerous weather situations and a lot more rain. This means packing waterproofs and layers and being mentally prepared for not having picture-perfect weather every day. Also, different countries in South East Asia have different seasons so also be aware of that.

Learn the scams of the land

As backpacking is incredibly common across South East Asia, scams are rife for tourists. Common scams are widely written about online and you should spend time researching what could happen where you're going. For instance, if you don't set a price at the beginning of a tuk-tuk ride, the driver may charge you a lot more.

Get used to haggling 

Haggling is key to getting the most out of your money in Southeast Asia and why you need to learn how to do it best. You'll be haggling when it comes to markets and tuk-tuk rides and sometimes in souvenir shops too - be alert and be the way to get the best price.

Book the appropriate vaccines

Your health is the most important thing, especially when you're travelling as it's that level of health which will keep you going. Before you travel long-term, speak to your doctors about the appropriate vaccines you need. Depending on where you live and your doctors, some vaccines may be free whilst others you may have to pay for. On my first trip, my vaccines were free but on the second trip, I paid around £400 for vaccines as I went to more rural destinations.

Go with an open mind

The beautiful part of backpacking around South East Asia is everything you'll learn along the way, the unique experiences, delicious food and welcoming people. It's probably one of the best experiences you can have and the perfect opportunity to be open-minded. You never know who you'll meet or what you'll experience along the way.

I hope you enjoyed this post. When are you planning this trip?

Thank you for reading <3

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