Adventure planning: the best guide for your backpacking trip

Whatever your personal definition of adventure may be, it requires a plan. Let’s go ahead and get into adventure planning and look at the best guide for your backpacking trip in 2022-2023.


adventure planning

Everyone has their own idea of an adventure. An exhilarating trip could include hiking up a mountain or could simply be camping 30 miles away from your hometown. 

Many people have found themselves backpacking throughout Europe (with one small backpack) traveling every few days, living in hostels, meeting new people all over the world, and overall exploring and adventuring.

Other travellers find themselves trekking throughout Central America exploring all the rainforests and eco lodges as well as petting alpacas and seeing ancient Inca sites of South America.

When people are traveling backpack style, they oftentimes are either alone, in partnership, or with a group of friends. When most people think of adventure some people associate it with snowboarding and camping but as I said before, there are multiple forms of adventurous trips.

We are of course going to talk about the various styles of adventurous traveling later on in this article.

Adventure Planning: What kind of trip?

As stated before, there are many different kinds of adventurous backpacking trips.

What type of adventure are you looking for? Do you want to go camping in your hometown, climb a mountain, spend a month taking the train throughout Europe, or island hopping the landmasses in Southeast Asia?

It is all up to the individual (or group) to plan appropriately and accordingly to the trip that is most comfortable for them.

Planning an overseas adventure travel? Check out this article.

Creating a realistic financial savings goal budget

Most likely you will need to clock into work for a few months before taking off for your trip. Or if you’re a digital nomad like me, you can make your money as you travel as long as there is a comfortable desk/chair and reliable wifi connection.

Set a realistic goal and amount of money you are willing to save before finally taking off.

When I was 18 and getting ready to take a gap year from higher education and pursue my world tour, I set a savings goal of $3,000 USD. I told myself as soon as I hit the three grand mark I would quit my sucky job and take off for as long as I could budget the money for. Of course, I was a bit impulsive so I would not necessarily say to follow my same actions.

The period of making money at home is probably the most important. Be frugal, if all of your money is spent in your hometown, you won’t have anything left for fun once you start backpacking.

What I personally did was the hundred rule. Keeping in mind I was only 18 and living under my mother’s roof, when I received my paychecks I would take money to the nearest hundred and save the rest.

For example, if I received a bi-weekly paycheck that was $641 USD I would pocket 41 dollars and save the remaining even six hundred for my backpacking trip. Staying true to this trick honestly helped me out so much when preparing for my world travel adventures. 

Don’t eat out every night, or ever if you can help it. When I was working for 9 months saving for my adventure backpacking trip(s), I never ate out and cooked every single meal, enjoying leftovers of course. I also did not splurge much in fun activities with my friends either, they were all in college anyways.

These tips truly helped me to reach my money goal by the time I was ready to head on the road.

If you are planning an adventure backpacking trip abroad

You want to island hop the Greek islands or go trekking through the rainforest wilderness of Costa Rica or split your time between Italy and France, sounds like fun!

With every fun trip comes defined planning. For example, don’t just say you want to go to Central America. Which countries do you want to go through and how long will you be there? Do any of the countries require you to obtain a visa and or inoculations? There are lots of things to consider nowadays in the trip planning era, especially post 2020.

If you want to see 5 cities in 2 weeks, aka a very short period of time, plan out every day to the tee and be specific about transportation and accommodation. It is also extremely important to make definite plans when traveling to a large country such as Brazil or the USA.

If you are planning an adventure backpacking trip in the wilderness/off grid

So you want to go camping in the wild, huh? Or you want to rent a van for 2 months and experience van life while reaching a new city every day.

Whichever off grid adventure you prefer it is best to solidify your expectations before packing up and heading out.

Check on the weather and terrain of the desired location. Will it be freezing cold at night? Will there be bears roaming around and you need to hang your food up? Will you be traveling to hard to get to spots? Having a mental map of your trip and properly planning it out is key to having a successful adventure trip.

Get more inspiration with these 13 Bucket list adventure ideas around the world.

Adventure Planning: Cost of the trip/Budgeting

The price of a trip certainly varies from person to person. $1,500 USD could easily be spent during an adventure packed two week backpacking trip but could also be stretched to last 2 months.

It is all about the budgeting habits of the traveler and whether or not they track their spending properly,

First thing’s first is to calculate the amount of money desired to spend on the trip and then figure out how long you want to backpack for.

Will you be taking the train throughout Europe or cruise through the Caribbean islands? The destination also plays a major part in the overall expense of the trip.

For example, The Caribbean and Southeast Asia both offer similar weather but it is undeniable that the Caribbean region of the world is pricier than countries in Southeast Asia. Although the Caribbean has a reputation for being expensive, I wrote a guide on how to travel cheaply throughout the Caribbean islands, check it out.

Research is prime before traveling to an unknown place. In regards to finances, be sure to compare the local currency to your nation’s currency and figure out how much you want to spend in a day, week, or month if applicable.

It is also important to research any possible language barriers and clothing customs. Pack according to the country’s norms or else you will seem extremely out of place. 

What will it look like to get health insurance while you are abroad and what is the healthcare system like in the destination country or countries in case of an emergency?

Decide where the starting point of your trip will be, what airline to fly out with, and where your accommodation will be.

Are visas or inoculations necessary? Be sure to let your bank know that you will be traveling to a new destination and/or country. There have been instances where travelers got their cards frozen or declined in other countries as the bank detected fraud.

Knowing these key factors will determine a lot about your next destination.

Adventure Planning: Seasons

There is a season to travel to certain places and a season to save for another day. With most countries there are rain and dry seasons and with others follow winter, summer, spring, and fall.

For popular destinations such as the Caribbean, it may be a good idea to visit in the spring time as less travelers find themselves here during these times of the year.

Traveling during off seasons will make way for more affordable airfare and possible discounted tourist activities which is usually why backpackers choose to travel to certain destinations during off months.

If you plan on traveling to a destination for a popular event such as Coachella or any other thing, be sure to plan and book tickets, airfare, and accommodation in advance as prices will be at their height.

Be flexible during your planning and traveling periods. If you are able to save more money traveling a month later (or a month later), then allow the flow of the universe to guide you.

Ultimately, research is the final factor that will help a traveler decide when is the best season to travel to the desired destination.

Adventure Planning: Equipment (conscious traveling, one time purchases of quality materials)

Now we’ve gotten to the packing point. What should I bring? Who should I buy from? You may be thinking to yourself.

In order to have a more enjoyable backpacking trip, it is best to sort all of your belongings into a medium to large sized backpacking style backpack or at least a carry-on size suitcase.

There are many reasons and benefits for traveling light but the main thing is to not have a bunch of baggage weighing you down, especially on an adventure. There could be an instance where your hostel is at the top of a hill or mountain and having to lug your suitcase that distance could be horrible on your back and just make the experience less enjoyable.

Even though you may not pack as many things for your adventure trip, it is a good idea to invest in quality items.

There are many well known brands such as Columbia or Osprey that offer top quality backpacking items and although the prices may be a bit higher, they will last for years as well as most likely have a lifetime warranty.

We’re going to talk about a list of some items to invest in for an adventurous backpacking trip. Keep in mind that there are different styles of backpacking which will be reflected and explained in the list of items down below.

  • Quality 40 L backpack

I personally have this backpack and can say it was one of the best purchases I’ve made throughout my 3 years of travel. It is extremely quality built and if anything happens to it, my purchase included a lifetime warranty.

  • Emergency Clothes line

This will certainly come in handy whether passing through a hostel with no dryer or camping in the forest.

I know I have personally had moments where I regretted not having a packable clothesline to throw into my backpack to dry my clothes in the hot tropical sun wherever in the world I was.

  • Packing cubes

An item that optimises organisation and efficiency, packing cubes have saved my life on multiple occasions.

  • Powder toothpaste

Not only does powder toothpaste contain a lot less chemicals than store bought toothpaste, it can also be made organically and very cheaply. This is a great option for carryon only travelers who often find themselves in airports.

  • Hiking boots/Hiking sandals

An adventure backpacker is most likely going to need either a good pair of hiking sandals or boots. Many people use hiking sandals as their only pair of shoes when traveling as they can be dressed up for fancy events, worn casually, and used to climb a simple hike.

  • Reusable water bottle

I swear by my ten dollar sea blue reusable Nalgene water bottle. Not only is it extremely affordable, if kept well it can last for months on end. I love to personalize my bottle by putting fun stickers on it to remind myself to travel light both physically and mentally.

  • Foldable coat

Depending on where your destination is, a coat may or may not be needed. If you are heading to a location that is cold, bringing a coat that can fold down small will be the best space saver.

  • Headlamp

Headlamps come in handy when you least expect them to. When I was backpacking through The Big Island Hawaii, the bathroom at the house I was staying at was located outside and it was pitch black whenever I needed to use the bathroom in the nighttime, having a mini lamp on my forehead could have helped those eerie midnight bathroom runs.

For all those wanting to go camping in their home country or abroad, a good tent, perishable foods, and a way to cook and reheat food are all necessary items for those wanting to backpack and camp off grid.

For those in the United States, REI is my absolute favorite place to purchase camping gear and all other items mentioned on this list.

  • Microfiber towel

This towel can be folded down to almost nothing and is the perfect space saver for minimalist backpackers who desire a smal, quality item with space efficiency.

Some other items that are extremely efficient and can make a successful trip include: first aid kit, dry bag, biodegradable soap, and many more high quality items.

If you want to learn more about what to pack as a minimalist or what to pack during long term travel, check out either of these two articles.

Adventure Planning: Safety tips & tricks for solo travelers

With all of the planning and excitement that comes about preparing for an adventurous backpacking trip, we must also remember to prioritize safety first.

As a person who has traveled to 10 countries the past 2 years completely solo, there are some things I have learned to keep myself safe.

Let's go ahead and review some tips and tricks on how to stay safe as a solo adventure backpacker.

  • Tell everyone you know back home that you are going on a trip. With spur of the moment, it can sometimes feel like a drag to inform your loved ones about a solo backpacking trip in fear of judgment and/or fear mongering.

    It is still necessary to have people you know and trust aware of your whereabouts in case of an emergency.
  • Do not be naive when it comes to certain situations. If a random stranger you never met says they can give you a ride up a mountain and accommodate you in their cabin in the woods, it's best to skip out on that offer.

    Most solo travelers are usually very safe as long as they are using common sense when making decisions. Also, never tell anyone you are traveling alone.
  • Have plan A, B, and C. We can plan the trip of a lifetime but what will we do if things don’t go the way they were supposed to? What if the bag with all of your adventure gear gets lost and won’t come in until after the trip. What if the $100 dollars in your pocket mysteriously disappears? What if you dreadfully and mistakenly catch a local disease like malaria and are set back a few days?

    Set some emergency money aside in case of any event or in the unlikely event of you needing to fly home early. Every traveler should plan for the exciting as well as unexpected parts of any backpacking trip.
  • As said before, research is key when planning an adventurous trip. Without proper research, a trip has the potential to go horribly wrong and we don’t want that.

    For example, being knowledgeable of safe areas and not so safe areas of the surrounding area you’re traveling to.
  • I would strongly advise investing in a quality lock for lockers in hostels (if they do not provide them) and to lock up bags when on flight or trains. If you are wanting to catch a nap on that 10+ hour flight or overnight train ride and you pull out the latest macbook and iphone 13, it's best to lock up your bags (even small ones) before catching some shut eye.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Know what is going on around you at all times and don’t look lost even if you may be, you will just turn into a target. Get friendly and comfortable with locals and stay connected with family and friends.

    Be careful of posting your location on social media. It is best to post all the exciting stuff at least thirty minutes after leaving the vicinity. Some people even wait a whole day. Be smart, if you are volunteering at a hostel and still have 1 week left, it may not be the best move to tell everyone on social media where you’ll be staying on your first day of arrival.

Adventure Planning: Volunteering with Worldpackers

When planning an adventurous backpacking trip around the world one of the most well known ways in regards to accommodation is staying in a hostel.

With dorm beds and private rooms, and travelers from all over the world, it is almost impossible to not strike up interesting conversations and make new friends.

Of course paying for a hostel is the traditional way to go about budget accommodation, did you know you can have these same adventurous experiences in hostels without having to pay a single dime for accommodation?

The key to finding free accommodation in hostels (and guest houses, and hotels) is by volunteering with the Worldpackers program.

Volunteering or work exchange is basically working a few hours a day/week in return for accommodation and other awesome benefits. I myself have four volunteer experiences in 3 countries. I was even able to live in San Francisco for a little under 2 months volunteering for a guest house in the city, all rent free.

Work exchange with Worldpackers is quite possibly the best way to travel the world as an adventure backpacker. Not only will you save hundreds (and possibly even thousands) of dollars, you will get the opportunity to further immerse in the local culture and have a more authentic travel experience.

Down below, I’ll attach some awesome and adventure packed volunteer opportunities in the Americas, Europe, Southeast Asia, and Australia. Let's go ahead and dive into the world of opportunities!

Volunteering around the world during your travels

Have a fascination with motorcycles? Head down to South America and learn how to dirt bike in different terrains. This opportunity in Colombia will surely feel less like a duty and more like fun everyday. 

Picture the beauty of Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan and stay there for free as a content/social media manager and creator. Stay only a week, (or 3) and explore the mountains and indigenous culture of this area.

If you know English, consider teaching it in exchange for a private room. Adventure around Costa Rica and enjoy inclusive breakfast and lunch while helping to teach English

We all know that Mexico is a huge country with lots to offer. A backpacker probably needs at least six months to experience the depth and fully get to know the Latin American country. Whether you want to learn how make chocolate, learn more about the indigenous culture of Chiapas, or simply hang out and chill in Cancun, Worldpackers has so many volunteer opportunities in Mexico.

If you are planning a backpacking trip to Europe, why not consider starting off with the westernmost country of Portugal? Whether you want to spend your days teaching yoga, becoming a social media manager, or helping to make pizzas, work exchange in Portugal is like a dream.

Quieres aprender más español? (Do you want to learn more Spanish?) Pass through Spain with a backpack and pick through almost 200 work exchange positions in Spain before heading to the next country.

Learn more about the ancient history of Turkey on your off days and swim in the Mediterranean sea while taking in all of the beauty of this Asian and European country by volunteering in Turkey.

Head to Greece and island hop to learn more about the ancient culture of this country and enjoy delicious greek food while you’re at it! Whether your interest is bartending, reception, cleaning/housekeeping, or painting, Greece has so many volunteer opportunities to choose from. 

Backpacking in one of the world’s most beautiful areas like Southeast Asia, is an absolute breeze with Worldpackers. Explore opportunities like cooking in the Philippines, helping children and teaching your language in Vietnam, to simply working at the reception desk for a hostel in Thailand, the possibilities are endless.

To learn more about traveling on a tight budget throughout Asia, check out this article written by a fellow Worldpacker. 

Test out your green thumb via the agricultural field and gardening, take care of animals, and help hostels by volunteering in Australia! An island so large that it also qualifies as a continent, Australia has lots to offer for adventurous backpackers on a tight budget. 

Wanting to know more about how to plan your trip around volunteering while backpacking? Subscribe to the Worldpackers Community for free and start saving your favourite volunteer positions until you are ready to get verified. Happy backpacking! 

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