How to Backpack & Travel Round the World

Need tips on how to backpack and travel round the world? You’ve come to the right place.

In this post we share our top backpacking tips of how we were able to backpack round-the-world over a 10 year period, and what you need to consider before setting off on your trip of a lifetime.

man and woman sitting at a table

Keep in mind that no two travellers are alike, and what works for one, may not work for others.

And when you’re thinking about how to backpack and travel round the world we suggest you ask yourself these questions:

  • What destinations do you want to explore the most?
  • How long do you want to travel round the world for?
  • What is your travel budget?
  • Are you traveling solo, as a couple, or in a group?
  • What’s your desired style of travel? (planes, trains, automobiles, boats, other??

The answers to these questions are important because they’ll go along way towards making sure you give yourself the best chance to have a richly rewarding travel experience.

a woman standing on a mountain
Caz hiking the Tiger Leaping Gorge & Yangtzee River, China

How to backpack & Travel Around the World

Whether you’re a seasoned backpacker, or you haven’t done any backpacking trips before, here are our top 3 tips:

1. Leave Room for Flexibility in Your Schedule

Things change. People change. You’ll meet people.

Others will recommend great places you’ve never heard of, you’ll discover interesting places you thought you only needed two days in but you’ll need a week.

If all your flights, tours and accommodation is pre-booked, it can be costly to change and frustrating to leave a place you love!

2. Spend More Time in Fewer Places

Why? It costs you less! Transport can really eat into your budget, so instead of racing through 20 countries in 20 days or 5 continents in 5 months, get to know a region well.

Racing around the world and visiting too many countries can also be tiring.

Having to pack and unpack, deal with many airports or bus terminals, boarder crossings and visa issues, can get you down.

So slow down, and take more in. That way, you won’t suffer from burn out, and you’ll really get a feel for a place and learn about the cheap places to eat and cheap things to do.

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3. Travel Like the Locals on Public Transport

You get great knowledge and insight by hanging with the locals, it costs you less, and is a more authentic travelling experience!

We roughed it from Kenya to Cape Town using nothing but public transport – it was amazing!

man and woman standing in front of a waterfall
at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

What’s Your Travel Plan?

Everyone has different personalities, likes, dislikes, budgets, and comfort levels.

Some people could just jump on a plane without any plans, and everything would just fall into place. But if this is your first time to travel round-the-world having “some type of plan” would be recommended.

However, one of the great things about long term travel is that once you get a feel for it, the best way is to just let it happen. You can over plan and leave yourself with no flexibility!

We go into a country, a city, and a town with a list of the must-do activities, and then we like to just walk around and immerse ourselves in the local day to day activities and heartbeat of the place, and get tips and information from the locals.

And of course, meeting and talking with fellow backpackers who have walked the road you plan to travel, is always invaluable!

a woman sitting on a table next to water
it’s Beer O’Clock on the Mekong River, LAOS

Budget and Finances

If you’re an independent budget traveler, or doing a gap year, then determining how much you have, and how long it will last, is important.

You need “some type of budget” in place so that you give yourself the best chance to make your money travel further!

Your travel budget will obviously depend on your travel style:

  • Are you willing to rough it in hostels and campgrounds, or do you need some extra comfort like a hotel or apartment?
  • Are you willing to stay in dorms, or do you need a private room?
  • What are your eating habits likely to be like?
  • Are you planning on taking many tours?

For some great ideas on making your money work for you, see our saving money for travel page.

A man standing on a beach
Craig in Koh Tao, THAILAND

Stay in backpackers hostels

Backpackers hostels are a great option for budget travel, and a great place to meet other travelers and get top backpacking tips. 

Rooms in hostels can consist of dormitory style (both same sex and unisex), private single, and private double rooms. And they can be geared towards all traveler types: young, old, single, couples, male and female.

Certain regions of the world cost more, so consider your destinations carefully. We personally spent most of our time traveling in Southeast Asia and Africa, where the costs of staying in hostels and camping is very minimal, in comparison to regions like Western Europe, Australia, and the USA.

Try Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is a worldwide network that connects travelers with locals.

Members are located in over 230 countries, use over 302 different languages, and live in over 67,000 different cities.

Couchsurfing (sleeping at a members home) is absolutely FREE, and the only thing that’s expected is an inspiring experience!

Find an affordable hotel

If you are in need of a little more comfort, and your budget allows it, then the obvious step up from a hostel is a Hotel.

Finding an affordable hotel has been a desire several times for us, a little splurge for a night or two never goes astray after a while. 

Related post:

a woman sitting on a boat
Caz in Koh Lipe, Thailand

Save money on flights

As far as finding deals on flights, you should have several websites bookmarked. Flying around the world can get expensive, so another one of our backpacking tips is to shop around for your air travel discount.

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Cut your costs on the road

Learning how to backpack around the world and cut costs on the road plays a vital role in your long-term plans.

 It makes no sense to put in the effort to save up for your trip, and then blow it all in a short period of time and you don’t get to do half the things you dreamed of.

Now, you will have to adjust your budget as you go, as there are just too many variables to take into consideration that you can never prepare for.

But having that budget in place, and writing in a daily journal and tracking what your expenses have been each day is recommended.

Related post:

A man riding a bike down a dirt road
Craig biking in Yangshou, CHINA

Working Holidays

A working holiday visa program is a great way to have an extended stay in a country and to explore a particular region of the world.

It’s a great way to base yourself in a location and save money for further round the world travel.

The opportunity to work in another country gives you the greatest immersion into its culture, and can be a richly rewarding experience.

Related posts:

Our 10 years working abroad story in podcast

  1. Episode 1: Solo Travel and Working Abroad before we met
  2. Episode 2: Our 5 year honeymoon living and traveling the world
  3. Episode 3: The Dark times and Birth of the girls and travel blog
  4. Episode 4: Embracing Family Travel and our 18 month Australian road trip
  5. Episode 5: Getting a green card and traveling the US (our dream realized)
cars driving on a busy city street
Caz in Times Square, New York City

Student discounts

Are you a student, or under the age of 26, then STA Travel is a one-stop shop for every student’s travel needs.

They create opportunities for students and young adults to make the most of their time and experience the world face-to-face in any way they choose.

They provide:

  • Travel scholarships to university students to help subsidize travel costs.
  • A World Traveler Internship for two young students to travel the world during their summer breaks for free.
  • Student Airfare discounts.
  • Discount cards like the International Student Identity Card (ISIC)

To learn more about student discounts, visit the STA Travel Site.

a woman holding a drink and standing next to a lake
Caz on the sunset cruise, Zambezi River, Zimbabwe, AFRICA

Teach English overseas

Another great way to travel round the world is to teach English. You can spend a considerable amount of time in a country or region of the world whilst funding your stay through teaching. You can get great immersion into a culture and live and travel in exotic places.

Teaching English abroad is not for everyone and you don’t have to look at it as a new career, but the experience could look great on any resume.

Related post:

A man standing on a beach
Craig on Cable Beach, Broome, Western Australia

Travel insurance

Another important task to think about when considering how to backpack the world, is to organize Backpacker Travel Insurance.

It is something we would all love to avoid, but is necessary. We’ve had to claim several times in the past, and we wouldn’t leave home without it.

Advice from the Backpacker Travel Insurance experts

  • Cancellation: It’s no fun if you fall ill before you leave and can not go on your trip. Not all insurance policies cover cancellation, so please read the policy wording relevant to you carefully.
  • Lost or stolen gear: most travel insurance policies have a per-item value limit – make sure its high enough to cover your gear or choose a policy that allows you to increase the limit.

We’ve personally used World Nomads on our backpacking trips.

Check out these posts:

More Solo travel tips

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