If you consider yourself an adventurer, perhaps the notion of strapping a backpack on and jetting off to the furthest reaches of the world has crossed your mind. There are plenty of destinations around the globe that cater to every adventurer’s wildest wishest. The best place for this, though, is Southeast Asia.
Southeast Asia is thought to be the best area of the world for adventure-loving backpackers. A big part of its charm comes from the fact that traveling on a budget is more possible here than anywhere else in the world. Another reason why SE Asia is seen as the ultimate backpacker destination is the adventure that awaits.
For those of you who are already convinced to book a flight to the far reaches of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, or another magical Asian destination, follow these helpful tips embarking on this adventure.
Pack Only What You Need
Contrary to common belief, you can actually purchase things in Asia, so you don’t need to bring every “travel necessity” from home. What, you’re planning on backpacking through Asia for one full year and think that it’s appropriate to bring one year’s worth of sunscreen, shampoo, bug spray, and all other essentials? You need to be realistic about what is necessary to bring and what is not.
Certain parts of Asia are probably better than your home country when it comes to consumer habits. Many products sold in North America come with that tiny “Made in China” sticker. Goods are cheap and you can find just about any product imaginable, so only pack the absolute necessities.
Keep in mind as you pack that you’re adopting the backpacker lifestyle, so you’re likely to be constantly on the move. Lugging around multiple suitcases is not realistic, and even lugging around a heavier-than-necessary backpack is silly. Bring only what you need to lighten the load and make travel as easy as possible.
Avoid Air Travel and Opt for Land and Sea Travel Instead
Moving around by plane can be fairly cheap throughout Asia and it certainly makes travel days easier, but it is not the ideal way to travel. Especially is you’re hoping to practice sustainable travel habits, flying is not the way to go. Instead, book ferries, cars, buses, and trains through companies like Bookaway.
The ease of travel that SE Asia offers is actually one of the reasons that it is seen as the best place in the world for backpackers. You can easily travel all throughout the continent and never need to worry about boarding a flight. Not to mention, traveling by land and sea is the budget-friendly way to get around.
Don’t Be Afraid to Sleep Next to Strangers
Living the dorm life might not sound that appealing, but don’t be afraid to give it a try. Even if you hated it back in college, chances are you’ll love the social atmosphere that only comes along with staying in a hostel dorm. Staying in dorms is obviously the cheapest way to travel when comparing them to the prices of hotels or motels. But that’s not the only benefit.
Booking a bed in a hostel dorm means that you’ll be surrounded by new faces and worldly travelers just like yourself. It’s the ultimate way to meet temporary travel buddies and make lifelong friends. Just remember that not all dorms in Asia are created equal – especially when it comes to cleanliness – so read reviews before making a booking.
Avoid Screen Time Whenever Possible
Your time spent in Asia, no matter if it’s two weeks, two months, or two years, should be your time spent away from screens. Sometimes it’s inevitable that you’ll give in to the temptation of scrolling through social media or responding to WhatsApp messages. But whatever you do, don’t spend all of your time on the road, well, on the phone.
Staying glued to the screen is a great way to engage in a travel experience that falls short of your expectations. You’ll be missing out on some unforgettable memories and potential friendships if you choose to spend your time on a device rather than engaging in what is going on around you.
A helpful tip is to only bring vital electronics along with you; if you don’t need your laptop, leave it at home. Of course, if you are traveling as a digital nomad, it is expected that much of your time will be spent on a device. If this applies to you, just do your best to spend your free time as “device-free” time.