We've all read plenty of books, seen movies about freewheelers and backpackers which have left us in complete awe. Within us all, there is a part that wants to be a rolling stone. It really isn't a fantasy anymore. People are living that life and if you’re just as eager, it's actually not that difficult to get a taste of the road.
The concept of backpacking developed with the hippie trail as a form of an alternate tourism in the 60's and 70's and today it's an established form of low - cost independent travel with plenty of travellers all around the globe living out of a backpack.
The First Step- Reflection
If there's one thing I've learnt, planning before any trip is important but spending too much time contemplating and waiting for the perfect time is not a good idea. Life is short, there is no perfect time and nothing beats the thrill of spontaneity.However, with that said a considerable amount of planning is absolutely necessary before heading out. The first step is to figure out the basic details of where and with whom.
I've always had an inclination towards solo travelling. It's difficult to find someone you're in complete sync with and it's nice to make new friends on the way. However, if it's the first time, travelling with an experienced backpacker is a good idea.
Figuring out the destination landscape is important in order to plan accordingly. Things to carry to the mountains will be completely different from the beach, the desert or the city. Any place will do for backpacking, the only important thing you actually need is yourself. Yourself away from society.
The backpack plays a primary role so choosing the right backpack is the first and the most important task. If the trip includes camping, a bigger size of 50l to 70l would be ideal. Otherwise, a 40l serves the purpose. It is also useful to have a smaller backpack to carry essentials around while discovering a place locally.
It completely depends on the destination location. A hiking trip would require heavy clothing with different layers, fleeces, waterproofs and good hiking footwear. A trip to the beach, on the other hand, would require lighter clothes, scuba diving/snorkelling gear etc.
- A good book for the long nights.
- An instrument to keep yourself entertained.
- A Camera to capture each moment.
- Pen and paper can help you create a travelogue.
- A first aid kit.
- A quick-dry microfiber towel.
- Important papers/passport/ Id cards.
- Hiking lights if you're away from civilisation.
How to Travel Low Cost
We love to quote Beatles when we say that we don't care too much for money 'cause money can't buy us love. But it can buy us tickets to different places and that's not too bad. However, good news is, even that isn't as expensive as we think it is with different budget travel options these days. So all broke adventurers, it's high time you start packing those backpacks too.
Travel Off Season
Literally, every place in the world is better and cheaper during offseason. We all like to avoid long queues, hiked prices and crowded places.
Explore Camping Options
Carrying a Tent and a Sleeping Bag can really increase travel conveniences. Most Campsites are free and definitely cheaper than roofed accommodation. You’re out there just looking for experience and a few days under the stars can be quite overwhelming. Home, after all, is where you pitch it.
Hitch - Hike
Hitchhiking is basically free travelling where you take lifts from passing vehicles. I cannot write you the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy but I am trying to wrap my head around this fantastic concept. Although it's still a developing concept in India, it's quite popular in many parts of the world. In India, the hitchhiking community is growing with the rise of the car-owning middle class which means that hitchhiking from cities to popular sites is increasingly simple.
Sometimes it's nice to go back to the scratch. Survival is a basic human instinct so building a fire and cooking your own food for at least a whole day shouldn't be much of a problem. Even if it is, it's something worth experiencing. Morning tea, with porridge. Potatoes and veggies for lunch and noodles for dinner! While you're at it read "To build a fire" by Jack London, it's pretty intense. Carrying basic hiking cooking gear like plastic cups, bowls and aluminium cooksets could help.
What to Expect?
With a good book, good company, an instrument and some place where you can connect with nature, your daily worries will be temporarily forgotten overpowered by a clarity of purpose. If you're climbing a mountain, the climb becomes the main task at hand and everything else is tuned out.
Wrapping it up with some inspiration;
"There is nowhere to go but everywhere so keep rolling under the stars." - Jack Kerouac