10 Tips To Backpacking Like A Pro

Photographed by Alice Gao.
We asked our well-traveled readers what they wish they had known when they first started backpacking. Here are their top 10 bits of wisdom, in their own words.

Pack lighter.
"You don’t need much, and if you do, you can buy it. I pack, and then unpack half of it and leave it behind. You don’t want to look like a pack mule. Most importantly: Never check a bag."

Don’t over-plan.
"Everything will be okay. I over-researched and second-guessed my first big trip. Now I hitchhike and sleep on strangers’ floors. Just take it one day at a time and learn how to get lost."

But plan a little.
"Learn a bit of history before you go. We miss the meaning of things without history. Make a list of places to see, gifts to bring, and foods to try. A little planning beforehand lets you relax and enjoy a place when you arrive."

Slow down.
"Budget time to get lost, sit in cafes, wander, and wonder. Moving constantly from place to place can make a trip all work and no play. It takes time to make a new place familiar, so rather than visiting many places, stay longer to absorb one place fully."

Eat more adventurously.
"I wish I’d known that street food would not actually kill me. Never miss an opportunity to try something you wouldn’t find back home."

Related: Where You Should Travel This Year, According To Your Astrological Sign

Wear good shoes.
"Your feet are your best friends when you’re on the road — and nothing ruins a trip faster than blistered feet. Plus, consider where you’re going: High heels and cobblestones are not a happy combo."

Learn a few phrases.
"This is what long flights and bus rides are for. A few simple phrases will make all the difference to a local who is trying to help you."

Take one nice outfit.
"Yes, less is more with packing, but only to a point: Always have an LBD and cute shoes for the surprise opportunity. Plus, if you dress and behave nicely, you often get an upgrade."

Travel alone.
"My two best friends and I were so focused on being together that we probably missed out on meeting new friends. You’re much more approachable — and probably friendlier, too — when you're traveling on your own."

Take fewer photos.
"Good things happen when you do less living behind a camera."

Next: The Art Of Mastering The Stay Cation

More from Travel

Travel mistakes cost time and money — two things I want more of when planning a trip. With so many online options available at our wanderlust-loving ...
Having a smartphone means having the world of social media at our fingertips all day, every day. With that, comes the temptation to share every aspect of...
No one would deny a blind person's right to take his or her guide dog on a plane. Likewise, we're beginning to accept that there are people with real ...
(Paid Content) Every city has its own culture, its own way of creating art, food, and music. There's just something extra special about that of Montreal
If you’ve been feeling down about summer’s official end, don’t be. It turns out, you can still take incredible vacations in the fall! And with help from ...
What is it about Paris that puts it at the top of everyone's must-visit list? Is it the anticipation of seeing the Eiffel Tower shimmer and sparkle at ...
The dilemma: You want to take an unforgettable vacation with a bunch of your besties, but you need it to be affordable. You already learned the hard way ...
(Paid Content) Your next weekend away has to be in Toronto. Period
If you like to travel, you probably have a bucket list of places you want to hit throughout your lifetime. If you've been under the MO that seeing them ...
In the old days, vacation planning was practically a workout. To land a good deal, you had to keep your eyes peeled for newspaper ads and hit up every ...
The world is full of magical hidden wonders. Need proof? The talented team at Atlas Obscura spent the past five years working on a gorgeous, 480-page book ...
JetBlue loves to throw amazing deals at us, and its latest sale is no exception. The airline's "Watch Fares Fall" sale is happening now, and the airfare ...
To some, the term “elope” still conjures images of hasty lovers stumbling into clandestine chapels, or frugal pairs looking to save a few pennies on the ...
Doing things alone can be immensely therapeutic: A solo meal can help you really appreciate food; a solitary walk can be a rare opportunity to think; and ...