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STA Travel Blog

The Complete A-Z of Backpacking the World

The world is a big deal. Especially if you’re planning on flying, walking, boating and road tripping your way round it.

As exciting as the prospect of heading out into the unknown is, it’s always good to have a bit of expectation and a bit of a plan. So with that in mind, we’re taking you back to school and teaching you the ABCs, with our complete A-Z of backpacking the world.

There’s definitely some practical points in there, and there’s definitely a few randoms, but as we’re the experts in Round the World travel, we’re just going to go with it…


A

Airports – Every traveller will spend at least one (although probably more) uncomfortable nights at an airport – learning to sleep sat up straight in the bright lights and on hard floors is essential. The first time will be exciting, the fourth time will be a drag, so use this time well to write your blog posts, send a postcard or make friends with the guys in customs.

B

Bus passes – We’re not talking about a weekly travel card here, oh no no no. Our hop-on hop-off flexible bus passes are often the cheapest, most enjoyable, and most convenient way to travel the vast lands of our fine planet.

Backpack – Your trusty backpack is your home and your constant. It will become a little guardian angel on your travels and house everything about your nomadic lifestyle. Sew badges on it, fix up the tears, stuff it with memories and make sure you treat it the respect and care it deserves.

Bed bugs – There’s a high chance you’ll meet these little critters on your travels, even in the nicest of hostels. So you just need to deal with it. But here’s a tip – take an old duvet cover to sleep in to try and protect you from these unwanted bed fellows.

C

Cashcard -  The STA Travel Cashcard works like a credit or debit card, but you preload your money on there before you leave and while you travel. There’s no getting into debt because you can only spend what you have. Genius! It can also be topped up by anyone (hi mum), anywhere, and you can use it withdraw cash, so you don’t need to exchange currency.

Cows – If you’ve ever been to India I need say no more. It’s clear who rules the roost here – and it ain’t us humans!

D

Diving – Whether it’s scuba diving in Koa Tao or sky diving in New Zealand, diving is an activity that 99.9% of travellers will partake in. There’s a reaon for this; it’s just so damn good.

E

Earplugs – For those that love their shut-eye, earplugs are a godsend when you’re in a 18 bed dorm sleeping next the bloke who’s drowned one too many beers.

F

Flights – Round the world, one-ways, returns, internal…flights will get you from A-Z in the quickest possible time, and we can make sure you get them at the cheapest possible price.

Flip flops – Thongs, jangles, sandals, flip flops…wherever you are in the world, they are one of the most comfortable and practical (apart from when you’re in the Amazon maybe) items in your backpack. They go with everything, they fit in small places and they’re cheap; they’re a traveller’s dream.

G

Guide books – Your bible, your friend, your source of all valuable and informative knowledge on your travels. Buy them, swap them, borrow them, leave them, just make sure you read them.

H

Hostels – Some of your best nights will be spent in the communal room of your hostel, playing cards and sharing travel stories. Whether it’s one night, or two weeks, your hostel will the be the hub for eating, sleeping, socialising, and possibly even working while on your travels. Have a little look at our accommodation sale.

I

Insurance – Don’t. Go. Anywhere. Without. It. Got it? Who knows what’s going to happen while you’re away…it’s far cheaper to purchase travel insurance before you leave, than fork out £100s in hospital bills because you broke a bone.

ISIC – Full time student? Grab yourself one of these then! It’s the only internationally accepted proof that you’re a student and will unlock access to over 42,000 deals and discounts worldwide.

iPods – Twelve hour bus journey? Over night train? Impromptu hostel party? Audio book of Harry Potter? Your iPod will become an essential companion throughout your travels; it will fill the long silences and help you bond over music tastes…just make sure you take off the Spice Girls album, yeah?

J

Jabs – There are a few nasty bugs and diseases out there that our Blighty bodies just aren’t used to. And they can be serious. Make sure you get all the jabs you need in time for your travels. We have Travel Clinics throughout the UK, and our qualified nurses will give you the need to know info.

Jungles – The deep, unruly landscapes of jungles are some of the most unexplored terrain remaining of the world. Brimming with life from every inch, they are an exciting and captivating place to explore, making a jungle trek the perfect place to seek out a travel experience that will take you out of your comfort zone and remain with you for many years to come.

K

Koalas – Usually to be found huddled up a tree, Koalas are probably Australia’s most famous (and definitely its’ cutest) resident. A 5 minute cuddle with one of these adorable hairballs is worth the journey alone. Head to Cairns Tropical Night Zoo or the Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas to get your snuggle time – and a great picture to send home.

L

Locals – Make sure you make friends with as many locals as humanly possible; it will help enrich your experience of a destination, and you never know what they’ll tell you about their country or where they’ll take you…Remember, they’ll love you if you show some love to their home. Fancy living like a local?

M

Multiflex – Travelling is all about being free and flexible; doing what you want, when you want, and that’s why we created the Multiflex Pass. It’s exclusive to us here at STA Travel, and is the perfect addition to your flight itinerary if you think there may be even the slightest chance you’ll want to change the dates of your onward flights when travelling. It has the potential to save you hundreds of valuable pounds on date change fee charges and it’s easy to use!

N

New friends – You can never have too many friends, and the friends you make while travelling (they will be loads!) could become friends for life. You might meet your future best man on a Kiwi Experience trip, or your future husband on tour in South America – speak with the people you might not always speak with back home; every one of these human beings will contribute to what makes your adventure amazing.

O

Over night Trains – There’s something super exciting about squeezing yourself and your backpack into a narrow bunk. You might fall asleep straight away, or you might lie there all night listening to the rhythmic churning of the train engine…overnight trains are the best way to catch up some shut-eye, or write to those back home while getting to your next stop.

P

Photographs – Everyone turns into Henri Cartier-Bresson when they’re backpacking, and with the amount of smartphones, SLR’s and even disposables on the market, it’s easy to take every opportunity to capture every moment on your travels. That weird looking fish at the night market, or that funny old man from the hill tribe need to be documented, shared and kept somewhere safe for years to come.

Q

Queues – If you’ve spent a considerable amount of time in Britain, chances are you’re used to queues. But it’s still nice to avoid them, so if you’re heading to a popular museum, gallery, or other hot spot tourist attraction, then set your alarm early because this is when they’re at the shortest.

R

Round the World – Sometimes it’s cheaper to fly to more places than less. Crazy right? And if you’re heading alllllll the way to Australia you might as well go round the world and stop off in Dubai, Bangkok, Vietnam on the way…and then throw in a trip to LA? Why not!

S

Squat toilets – Strong thighs. That’s what you need for these. Get the hang of a squat toilet, and what could be a messy and slightly traumatic experience will turn into something you can do with your eyes shut (although probably best to keep them open). Our Community Executive, Lisa Crowther, has got some good tips on the perfect squat technique right here.

Street food – For many a traveller, no trip would be complete without sampling the local cuisine. Street food is usually the cheapest and tastiest food you’ll find. Don’t worry about getting ill, just get out your comfort zone and eat that fried and spiced spider!

Sun Cream and Sun glasses – At risk of sounding like your mum, go no lower than factor 30 and make sure your glasses have UV protection. Your skin and eyes will thank you in years to come. And you don’t want to look back at photos of yourself resembling a cooked tomato while on that beautiful beach in Thailand…

T

Tuk tuks – Taking a tuk-tuk through the streets of a busy Asian city like Bangkok, Delhi or Hanoi is a traveller right of passage. You have to do it (literally. You pretty much can’t avoid it). Bob and weave through the crazy streets like you’re featuring in a real life version of Mario Cart, avoiding people, scooters and random wandering animals as you go.

Tours – Scrap the image of a tour leader holding a flag, trying frantically to round up a group of bored looking tourists. This is not STA Travel touring. Our touring is full of like-minded travellers in well sized groups, knowledgeable and local tour leaders, new friends, the best accommodation, the best transport and the best sights and day trips. Our touring is FUN.

U

Underwear – How much is too much and how much is too little? There’s no hard and fast rule here, but remember most hostels have laundry facilities, and only wear the same pair twice in a row if your life depends on it. Try and pack fast drying underwear; they’re not the most attractive of garments but are perfect for travelling in hot countries.

V

Volunteering – Volunteering is an fantastic and hugely worthwhile way to spend your time while travelling the world. Whether you can only get away for a week or two, have longer to spare, or want to include a volunteer stop within a wider trip there are a huge amount of options to consider that will each make a huge difference to the communities they benefit.

W

Wifi – You’ll find Wifi in the even the most remote locations – need to update your status at the bottom of Machu Picchu? Go ahead. Post an Instagram at Everest Base Camp? No worries. You’ll even get guaranteed Wifi on a selection of our adventure tours.

X

X-treme sports – Travelling and adrenalin go together like two peas in a pod. Throw yourself out a plane at 15,000 feet, jump off a bridge, white water raft, cage dive with sharks…each glorious place on this planet will offer something to get your blood pumping and heart racing.

Y

Yurts – If you want great bragging rights, tell everyone you’ve slept in a yurt. Traditionally used by nomad tribes in Central Asia, these crown like structures would stomp all over your two man festival tent. We’ve got a few adventure tours that will let you spend a night in of these amazing structures.

Z

Zzzzzz – Sleeeeeep. Some of you will be happy roughing it, some of you want a little more luxury. Whatever you’re after, we have 100s of hotels and hostels that will suit your needs. AND, we currently have an accommodation sale on. Perfect!

So there you have it – the complete A to Z of backpacking the world. Do you think we’re missing anything? If so then let us know below. If you want to start planning your very own backpacking expedition then give one of our Travel Experts a call on 0333 321 0099 or find your local store.
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Showing 5 Comments

  1. Tina Strutt

    Shoes – Don’t bring them. 1 pair hiking boots, 1 pair thongs, and maybe nice sandals/flats for those upmarket places!

    1500 days ago
  2. Catherine

    G- not guidebooks…if anywhere near aus/nz, goon is the top thing to be associated with!!

    1490 days ago
  3. Ellie

    A pillow case – at least you know one part of you is getting a clean nights sleep.

    1406 days ago
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    338 days ago
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    332 days ago