Top 10 Tips to Protect Yourself on a Backpacking Trip
There’s no single way to travel. Considering everyone has their preferences, what some would consider ‘convenient’ might be taken differently by others; backpacking is an example. Immersing yourself in what your environment provides is a running theme for backpackers.
Instead of sticking to yourself, backpacking encourages you to appreciate everything you encounter, be it a local community or undiscovered places. Although it’s independent travel, backpackers utilize their surroundings more, making it a suitable option for those interested in traveling but with a low budget.
Fortunately, many cheap backpacking destinations out there are very safe.
However, interacting more with your surroundings leaves you wide open to various dangers. Here are some ways to protect yourself better on your backpacking trip:
1. Know What To Expect
Since you’re traveling somewhere foreign, you’re bound to experience culture shock, especially if their way of doing things differs greatly from what you’re used to. Assuming the locals will help tourists in need may be kind-hearted but naïve. After all, different individuals live in communities; some are good people, while others aren’t. Although backpacking is an opportunity to meet new people, it’s best to stay on the safe side.
Knowledge is one of the best tools to protect yourself. Research everything you need to know about your destination before setting off. From local laws to currency, look up everything travelers must know about. That way, you can keep yourself safe from any scammers that some locals might spring on you.
Also be sure to learn some local words and phrases if you are planning to travel to places where English isn't the native language.
2. Consider Anti-Theft Equipment
Although arming yourself with self-defense weapons is the best protection, what will protect your possessions? Since you’re backpacking, most of your valuables are likely inside your bag, from important documents to your travel essentials. After all, convenience is another perk of backpacking. And keeping all of your possessions in one backpack is a fine example of convenience instead of storing them in different luggage.
But given that you’re only counting on a backpack, ensure you’ve chosen the best one for traveling. On top of having various compartments and using a waterproof and durable material, consider looking for a backpack with anti-theft features. Even though they won’t deter stubborn thieves, having them could make you less of a target for opportunistic ones or pickpockets.
3. Carry Self-Defense Weapons
While educating yourself, don’t forget to look up which self-defense weapons are legal. Because even though they’re only meant to protect you against dangerous situations, some places have regulations due to how much harm they could cause to others. Hence, before researching the best pocket knife brands out there, ensure that your destination allows tourists to have them.
Aside from pocket knives, consider looking into tactical devices to broaden your arsenal. After all, they’re much more subtle, making them easier to hide when your instincts urge you to be on guard. Still, as helpful as they are, there’s nothing better than learning self-defense techniques to turn your body into a lethal weapon.
4. Use A VPN
On top of your physical safety, consider how you’ll protect yourself online. After all, with most transactions done digitally, your information is distributed throughout the internet, whether it’s about your favorite animal or your mother’s maiden name. And it doesn’t help that you’re giving this information away somewhere else.
Invest in a VPN before heading out on your backpacking trip. Because aside from giving you access to previously blocked sites, using a VPN protects your online identity, especially while using public Wi-Fi. Thus, you can avoid any incident wherein your bank account gets emptied after someone steals your identity when you connect to public Wi-Fi and use it for your credit card.
5. Keep Your Distance
Although there’s nothing wrong with being polite, there’s a line you must be aware of when backpacking. After all, everyone you meet is a stranger. Hence, it’s better not to trust everyone you meet at first sight. Otherwise, they might exploit your friendliness and twist it against you.
Since you’re a traveler, you’re bound to garner questions from the locals. Many of them will sound innocent enough, such as ‘Are you alone?’ or ‘How long are you traveling?’ Remember that there’s nothing wrong with lying or omitting some details about yourself.
However, if the person keeps asking you more questions afterward, be upfront and question their intentions. People with ill intentions typically back away when put on the spot like that.
6. Be Conscious
What normally makes tourists easy pickings is how easy it is to set them apart from the locals. Tone down your expensive outfits and jewelry with something more modest. Avoid flaunting your wealth around. Otherwise, you’re placing a price tag on your head for unsavory figures to target.
7. Get Insured
Now that you have your physical self and possessions covered, consider protecting your financial safety. After all, so many things can happen to you while backpacking, be it an accident or theft. Getting travel insurance is the best way to give yourself a safety net to fall on. That way, you don’t have to touch your travel budget when an emergency arises. This is especially important in countries like the USA where an accident or emergency can end up costing you a lot of money.
8. Avoid Excessive Drinking
New surroundings and being really drunk is really not a good idea.
9. Consider Tours
Booking a tour is one of the most fun and safest ways to navigate the world. You'll travel in a group with like-minded travellers, and get an experience guide to take you to the best places. This is highly recommended for solo female travellers.
10. Trust Your Instinct
Sometimes its good to trust your initial feelings, if something doesn't feel right, just be aware and take action.
Backpacking is an excellent opportunity to experience new things and enrich one’s life. However, traveling to a foreign land with most of your possessions in your backpack is risky. That's why you must know how to protect yourself from unexpected situations that might ruin your trip, from dealing with suspicious individuals to accidents. This way, your trip will go off without a hitch.