I'm more of a freestyler when it comes to planning.
But there are still a few things that just need to be organized every time before going on a long trip.
What I don't want to do: stressful, complicated and restrictive planning that limits my flexibility on the go.
Therefore, I try to keep my travel planning as simple and easy as possible. Minimalist, so to speak.
In the following, I will show you the most important things that you should organize for your backpacking trip. They cover all essential points – no more headaches, no worries whether or not you have thought of everything.
For myself, I have found that with perfect travel planning steps, the days and weeks before departure don't feel nervous but feel good.
This list is not intended for long-term or forever travellers. For people who want to be away for longer than a few months, there are a few more things. Ready? Let's go travel
1. PLAN YOUR TRAVEL BUDGET
Fact: Money enables you to travel and is one of the first things you will think about.
How much money do you need for the trip? How much does the flight cost? Travel Insurance? What will you spend on average for hostels and transportation and activities?
I always calculate my daily budget and document my expenses on the way to make sure that I stay within budget. Even if my income is currently a little higher, I prefer to save the rest or spend a little more here and there for nicer accommodation, special activities or tours on site etc. I personally don't need a lot to live in. In countries like Indonesia or Nicaragua, I could live on a lot less and some others probably even cheaper.
2. WHEN DOES IT START?
I often plan my trips very spontaneously, sometimes only 2-4 weeks before it starts.
This is not possible for many people (university, job and other living conditions), but a time window of 3-6 months is often enough for most longer backpacking trips.
Set a date and keep an eye on it! Write it on a sticky note and hang it on your desk or next to your bed. Visualize regularly when you want to start and bathe in anticipation!
3. SAVE MONEY
Often the start of the trip also depends on how quickly you can get the money for the journey together.
If your income is not enough to automatically save a little every month, you have to limit your expenses. Make your big trip your priority – every day. Go out less, shop less.
Get money instead of gifts for your birthday. Sell things you no longer need.
Put an amount aside each month, preferably in a separate account where you don't touch the money.
4. BOOK YOUR FLIGHT!
Don't you know exactly when you might want to come back? Book a one-way flight. Within a region, flights with low-budget airlines can often be booked cheaply, such as AirAsia in Asia, Jetstar in Australia or many others worldwide.
Since the flight is often a substantial investment, it is worth planning and researching a little. Basically, I'm more against Round the World tickets because they limit your flexibility on the go - I wrote a post about this too.
When you book your flight, especially the moment you click "Book", you get a feeling that it's free. You probably already know it: a mix of incredible joy and excitement! Enjoy it!
For many regions around the world, it is advisable to get a few vaccinations. It doesn't always have to be a tropical doctor – often your family doctor knows enough. However, there is not much to know in most regions such as Southeast Asia, India or Latin America.
I think the standard vaccinations up to date and also hepatitis A and B. Here too, I follow my motto: Keep it simple!
6. ROUTE AND TRIP PLANNING - WHERE TO GO?
Dear planning, let it be.
Get inspiration from travel guides and internet research, get an overview of places that interest you, and then? Finished.
If you’re travelling by road, make sure you don’t miss out on maintaining your car – treat it in shape with car cleaning products to maintain it’s shine.
For me, backpacking is about being flexible. And not like organizing everything in advance like on a package tour and coordinating all stops before departure and booking accommodation.
Go with the flow. Get tips from other backpackers and locals on the go. Be open to changes in plans.
Travel slowly and consciously instead of rushing from one place to another.
One thing that you might want to include in your planning is the seasons and often the rainy seasons. Often, however, the colder and rainier times of the year are the ones that have many advantages: Above all, fewer tourists and lower prices.
Even in high season, there is always something to stay overnight, or I book something online the day before. Easy!
7. OVERVIEW OF LOCAL TRANSPORTATION
It doesn't hurt to do a little research on how to get from A to B in your destination, what it costs, how long it takes to get there, and how to get tickets.
There is also time on site – you will get the best tips from other travellers anyway.
8. INSURANCE AT THE START?
You should take out travel health insurance. Many people worry about their luggage, especially more expensive electronic things like laptops, tablets or cameras.
Most normal luggage insurance only protects for up to 4 weeks, after which you can take out household insurance that is valid for up to 6 months. For longer trips, more extensive research is recommended, as there are some options for digital devices, but most of them are not very cheap.
I have never had luggage insurance myself, not even for a laptop or camera. So far, I have not lost anything, be it out of luck or just experience. Maybe one day it will hit me, quite possible.
9. ALL IMPORTANT TRAVEL DOCUMENTS WITH YOU?
A few things shouldn't be missing, especially your passport and money cards. The rest is almost secondary. As soon as you have two things with you, you can start.
Here is a list of important travel documents that you should take with you, preferably like me in a waterproof document bag:
Passport and ID card for security
International driving license
Diving passes (if available)
Credit cards and maestro
Set up TAN numbers or SMS TAN
Print out the flight ticket or make it available on the go
It is also helpful to make backups of the entire document. Here’s more on how to stay organized while travelling.
That is all you need to organize for your trip. Everything else is optional. When you've got through this list, you can be sure that you've thought of everything. Trust me. I don't do it any differently. All steps represent exactly my planning process for my trips and have been tried and tested for years.