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Backpacking – How To Stay Sane On The Road | Jessie On A Journey


Modified: September 26, 2023

by Hortensia Horvath



Embarking on a backpacking adventure can be both exhilarating and daunting. As you prepare to leave the comfort of your daily routine behind, there are a few essential tips to keep in mind to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience on the road.


Backpacking allows for a unique form of travel, where you have the freedom to explore new places, meet diverse people, and challenge yourself in ways you may have never imagined. However, it also requires careful planning and preparation to navigate the uncertainties that come with stepping outside of your comfort zone.


Whether you’re a seasoned backpacker or venturing out for the first time, there are a few key principles to keep in mind to stay sane and make the most of your backpacking journey.


In this guide, we will explore everything from choosing the right backpack to staying organized on the road, from maintaining your health to staying connected with loved ones back home, and from prioritizing safety to embracing the adventure that comes with backpacking.


So, buckle up, grab your gear, and let’s dive into the world of backpacking, where adventure awaits at every turn.


Choosing the Right Backpack

One of the most crucial decisions you will make as a backpacker is choosing the right backpack. Your backpack will essentially become your home for the duration of your journey, carrying all your belongings and providing comfort and support while you’re on the move. Here are some key factors to consider:

  1. Size: The size of your backpack will depend on the length and nature of your trip. For shorter trips, a smaller backpack around 30-40 liters may suffice. For longer journeys, a larger backpack in the range of 50-70 liters may be necessary to accommodate all your essentials.
  2. Fit: A well-fitting backpack is crucial for your comfort and overall experience. Look for adjustable straps and a supportive hip belt to distribute the weight evenly. Make sure to try on different backpacks and choose one that feels comfortable and secure on your back.
  3. Features: Consider the features that are important to you. Look for backpacks with multiple compartments, external pockets for easy access to essentials, and compression straps to secure your load. Additionally, features like a built-in rain cover or a hydration system may be worth considering.
  4. Durability: Opt for a backpack made of durable materials that can withstand the wear and tear of travel. Look for reinforced stitching, sturdy zippers, and high-quality materials that can withstand different weather conditions and rough handling.
  5. Weight: Keep in mind that every ounce counts when you’re carrying your backpack for long periods. Aim for a lightweight backpack that doesn’t add unnecessary weight to your load.

Remember, choosing the right backpack is a personal decision, and what works well for one person may not work for another. Prioritize comfort, functionality, and durability to ensure you have a backpack that meets your needs and accompanies you on your backpacking adventures with ease.


Packing Essentials

When it comes to backpacking, packing efficiently and wisely is key. You have limited space in your backpack, so it’s important to prioritize the essentials that will make your journey comfortable and enjoyable. Here are some packing essentials to consider:

  1. Clothing: Pack lightweight and versatile clothing suitable for the climate and activities you’ll be engaging in. Opt for quick-drying and moisture-wicking materials. Be sure to include items like a waterproof jacket, comfortable hiking shoes, a hat, and layers for varying temperatures.
  2. Toiletries: Keep your toiletries minimal and travel-sized. Pack items like a toothbrush, toothpaste, biodegradable soap, sunscreen, and any medications you may need. Remember to also include a small towel or travel towel.
  3. Sleep Gear: Depending on your preferences, pack a lightweight sleeping bag or sleeping pad for camping or staying at hostels. It’s important to prioritize comfort and a good night’s sleep.
  4. Travel Documents: Keep your important travel documents organized and easily accessible. This includes your passport, visa if required, travel insurance, and any necessary tickets or reservations.
  5. Electronics: If you plan to stay connected or capture your journey, bring essential electronics like a smartphone, camera, charger, and adapters. Be mindful of the weight and space these items occupy and consider their practicality with limited access to charging facilities.
  6. First Aid Kit: It’s important to be prepared for minor injuries or illnesses. Pack a basic first aid kit with essentials like band-aids, painkillers, antiseptic cream, and any specific medications you require.
  7. Money and Important Items: Keep your cash, credit cards, and important documents like your passport in a secure travel wallet or money belt. It’s always wise to have a backup credit card or emergency cash in case of unforeseen circumstances.
  8. Other Essentials: Don’t forget the small but essential items like a reusable water bottle, a travel lock for your backpack, a headlamp or flashlight, a travel adapter, a journal, and any personal items specific to your needs.

Remember, the key to packing efficiently is to strike a balance between essential items and minimizing unnecessary weight and bulk. Consider the climate, activities, and duration of your trip when deciding what to pack. Pack smart, and you’ll be well-prepared for your backpacking journey.


Staying Organized

Keeping your belongings organized while backpacking is essential for a hassle-free experience on the road. Here are some tips to help you stay organized:

  1. Use Packing Cubes: Packing cubes are a game-changer when it comes to keeping your clothes and belongings organized. These lightweight and compact organizers help separate different items and make it easy to find what you need without unpacking your entire backpack.
  2. Roll Your Clothes: Rolling your clothes instead of folding them can save space and prevent wrinkles. It also allows for easier access to your clothing
  3. Keep a Daypack: A small daypack is useful for day trips or short hikes. It allows you to carry essentials like water, snacks, a camera, and a jacket without having to unpack your entire backpack.
  4. Have a System: Develop a system for organizing your backpack. Assign specific pockets or compartments for different items, such as toiletries, electronics, and documents. This will save you time and prevent frustration when you need to find something quickly.
  5. Use Ziplock Bags: Ziplock bags are great for storing small items and keeping them organized. Use them to store cables, adapters, toiletries, or any other loose items that may get lost or tangled in your backpack.
  6. Create a Digital Backup: Make digital copies of important documents, such as your passport, travel insurance, and itinerary. Store them on a cloud service or email them to yourself. This ensures that if any physical copies are lost or stolen, you have access to the information.
  7. Keep a Travel Journal: A travel journal is not only a great way to document your journey but also helps you stay organized. Use it to jot down important information like flight details, addresses, and contacts. It can also serve as a personal diary to capture memorable moments.
  8. Stay Disciplined: Practice good discipline and put things back in their designated places after use. This will help prevent clutter and make it easier to find what you need when you need it.

Remember that a well-organized backpack not only saves you time and effort but also contributes to your overall peace of mind while backpacking. By implementing these strategies, you’ll be able to stay organized and make the most of your adventure on the road.


Staying Healthy

Maintaining good health while backpacking is essential to ensure that you can fully enjoy your journey. Here are some tips to help you stay healthy on the road:

  1. Pack a First Aid Kit: Include essential items like band-aids, antiseptic cream, pain relievers, and any necessary prescription medications. Be prepared for minor injuries and illnesses that you may encounter while traveling.
  2. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated, especially in warm climates. Carry a reusable water bottle with you and refill it whenever possible. Avoid drinking tap water in locations where it’s not safe and rely on bottled water or use a water filter.
  3. Eat Balanced Meals: Maintain a balanced diet, even while on the road. Incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables, protein, and whole grains into your meals. Be cautious of street food and make sure it’s prepared in a hygienic environment.
  4. Practice Basic Hygiene: Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or use hand sanitizer when necessary. This simple practice can help prevent the spread of germs and keep you healthy.
  5. Protect Yourself from the Sun: Apply sunscreen with a high SPF and wear a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. Don’t forget to reapply sunscreen throughout the day, especially if you’re spending time outdoors.
  6. Get Adequate Sleep: Make sure to prioritize getting enough restorative sleep. Adequate sleep not only helps you stay energized but also boosts your immune system and overall well-being.
  7. Stay Active: Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. Go for walks, hikes, or engage in other outdoor activities to stay active and maintain your overall fitness level.
  8. Manage Stress: Backpacking can sometimes be stressful, so it’s important to find ways to manage stress effectively. Practice mindfulness, take breaks when needed, and engage in activities that help you relax and rejuvenate.
  9. Seek Medical Help when Needed: If you experience any health concerns or symptoms, don’t hesitate to seek medical assistance. Have a list of emergency contacts and local healthcare facilities readily available.

Remember, taking care of your health while backpacking is crucial for a successful and enjoyable journey. By following these tips, you can stay healthy and make the most of your backpacking experience.


Staying Connected

While backpacking, staying connected with loved ones and the outside world is important for various reasons, including safety, communication, and sharing your experiences. Here are some tips to help you stay connected while on the road:

  1. International SIM Card or Roaming Plan: Before you embark on your journey, research your options for international SIM cards or roaming plans to ensure that you have a reliable way to make phone calls, send messages, and use data while abroad.
  2. Wi-Fi Access: Many hostels, cafes, and public spaces offer free Wi-Fi. Take advantage of these hotspots to connect with family and friends, check emails, browse the internet, and update your social media accounts.
  3. Communication Apps: Use communication apps like WhatsApp, Skype, or Viber to make free or inexpensive calls and send messages over an internet connection. These apps are especially useful for staying in touch with loved ones back home.
  4. Online Travel Communities: Join online travel communities and forums to connect with other backpackers, seek advice, and share your experiences. These platforms are a great way to meet like-minded travelers and gain valuable insights.
  5. Notify Loved Ones of Your Whereabouts: Regularly update your family and close friends about your whereabouts and travel plans. Communicate your itinerary to ensure that someone knows where you are in case of emergencies.
  6. Social Media: Use social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, or a travel blog to share your journey with friends and followers. It’s a convenient way to keep them updated and allow them to virtually join you on your adventure.
  7. Offline Communication: Carry a physical list of important contact numbers, including embassy or consulate details, local emergency services, and your emergency contacts. In situations where you don’t have access to the internet, this can be a lifeline.
  8. Respect Local Customs: While staying connected is important, it’s also essential to respect local customs and regulations regarding phone usage. Familiarize yourself with cultural norms and avoid causing offense or disruption by using your phone in inappropriate locations.

Remember, staying connected is not only about convenience but also about ensuring your safety and peace of mind while backpacking. By following these tips, you can stay connected with your loved ones and share your memorable experiences along the way.


Staying Safe

When backpacking, it’s important to prioritize your safety and take precautions to mitigate any potential risks. Here are some tips to help you stay safe during your journey:

  1. Research your Destination: Before you travel to a new destination, research and familiarize yourself with local customs, laws, and any safety concerns. Knowledge is your best defense against potential risks.
  2. Stay Alert and Trust Your Instincts: Pay attention to your surroundings and trust your instincts. If something feels off or unsafe, remove yourself from the situation and find a safer place.
  3. Carry a Dummy Wallet: To minimize the risk of theft, carry a dummy wallet with a small amount of cash and expired cards. Keep your actual wallet hidden in a secure location, like a money belt or hidden pocket.
  4. Secure Your Belongings: Keep your valuables secure at all times. Use locks for your backpack, lockers, and hotel rooms. Be cautious of your belongings in crowded areas and keep an eye on them at all times.
  5. Share Your Itinerary: Inform someone of your travel plans, including your itinerary and accommodation details. This way, someone will know where you are at all times.
  6. Be Mindful of Scams and Fraud: Be aware of common travel scams and frauds in the area you’re visiting. Stay vigilant and avoid sharing personal information or engaging in suspicious deals or activities.
  7. Travel Insurance: Purchase comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical emergencies, trip interruptions, and theft. It’s a worthwhile investment to protect yourself in case of unforeseen circumstances.
  8. Be Wary of Strangers: While making new friends is part of the backpacking experience, exercise caution when interacting with strangers. Trust your instincts and be cautious about sharing personal information or going to unfamiliar places with people you’ve just met.
  9. Stay Informed of Local Laws and Customs: Respect the laws, customs, and traditions of the country you’re visiting. Familiarize yourself with any cultural sensitivities or local regulations to avoid unintentionally breaking the law or offending locals.
  10. Stay Updated on Travel Advisories: Check for travel advisories and warnings issued by your home country’s government or travel authorities for the destination you’re visiting. Stay updated on any potential safety concerns or risks.

Remember, your safety is paramount while backpacking. By following these tips, staying alert, and being proactive, you can minimize risks and ensure a safe and enjoyable journey.


Embracing the Adventure

While staying safe and organized is important, it’s equally essential to embrace the adventure and make the most of your backpacking experience. Here are some tips to help you immerse yourself fully in the journey:

  1. Step Outside Your Comfort Zone: Backpacking presents the perfect opportunity to step outside your comfort zone and try new things. Whether it’s trying unusual cuisine, engaging in local traditions, or participating in adventure activities, embrace the unknown and open yourself up to new experiences.
  2. Connect with Locals: Interacting with locals is one of the most rewarding aspects of backpacking. Engage in conversations, learn about their culture, and seek their recommendations for hidden gems or off-the-beaten-path experiences. This will provide you with unique insights and memorable encounters.
  3. Immerse Yourself in Nature: Take advantage of the natural beauty surrounding you. Explore national parks, hike through stunning landscapes, swim in crystal-clear lakes, or camp under the stars. Nature has a way of rejuvenating the soul and providing incredible experiences.
  4. Embrace Spontaneity: Backpacking allows for flexibility and spontaneity. Leave room in your itinerary for unexpected detours, last-minute adventures, and serendipitous encounters. Embrace the freedom to change your plans and follow your instincts.
  5. Learn the Language: Take the time to learn basic phrases in the local language. This simple effort shows respect and can help cultivate meaningful connections with locals. It also enhances your ability to navigate and immerse yourself in the local culture.
  6. Document Your Journey: Keep a journal, capture photos, or create a travel blog to document your experiences. Reflecting on your journey and preserving your memories allows you to relive the moments and share your story with others.
  7. Practice Gratitude: Be grateful for the opportunity to explore new places and meet diverse people. Embrace moments of gratitude and find joy in the small things. Appreciating the adventure will enhance your overall experience.
  8. Be Mindful and Present: Instead of getting caught up in capturing the perfect picture or thinking about the past or future, practice mindfulness and be fully present in the moment. Savor the sights, sounds, and smells around you. This allows for a deeper connection with your surroundings.
  9. Embrace the Unexpected: Backpacking is filled with unexpected twists and turns. Embrace the unpredictability and view challenges as opportunities for growth and resilience. Embracing the unexpected adds excitement and richness to your adventure.
  10. Stay Curious: Approach your travels with curiosity and an open mind. Embrace the opportunity to learn about different cultures, histories, and perspectives. Stay curious and let your backpacking journey be a transformative experience.

Remember, backpacking is not just about reaching a destination; it’s about the journey itself. By embracing the adventure, you’ll create memories that will last a lifetime and gain invaluable experiences that will shape you as a traveler and as an individual.



Embarking on a backpacking adventure is an incredible way to discover the world, challenge yourself, and create lasting memories. By following the tips and guidelines outlined in this article, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey while staying sane on the road.


From choosing the right backpack to staying organized and packing essentials efficiently, these practical strategies help you stay prepared and minimize stress. Prioritizing your health, staying connected with loved ones, and embracing the adventure will enhance your backpacking experience.


Remember, safety is a top priority, so staying alert and informed, respecting local customs, and being prepared for unforeseen circumstances are crucial. By staying open-minded, stepping outside your comfort zone, and immersing yourself in new cultures, you’ll enrich your travel experience and gain a deeper understanding of the world.


Backpacking is an opportunity for personal growth, self-discovery, and connecting with people from all walks of life. Embrace the unpredictability, practice gratitude, and stay present in each moment. Remember to document your journey and share it with others to inspire fellow travelers and cherish your memories.


So, pack your bags, lace up your hiking boots, and hit the road with excitement and enthusiasm. Whether you’re venturing out solo or with companions, backpacking has the potential to change your life and broaden your horizons. Embrace the adventure, and may your backpacking journey be the start of an incredible life-transforming experience.