Ten Tips for Safe Backpacking Around the World

From seeing the Northern Lights, to taking an African Safari and snorkelling along the Great Barrier Reef; some of the world’s most popular bucket list activities involve travelling the world. 

Enriching, fun and full of adventure, it’s no surprise that the opportunity to travel abroad is high on the list of many student travellers.

Taking a gap year between education and work is the perfect time to explore the world. After all, there’s plenty of backpacker hostels and communities to meet likeminded people along the way.

While technology enables us to stay better connected, and there’s more safety measures in place than ever before, it’s still important to pay due diligence when travelling. If you’re planning a trip around the world, here’s ten important tips to help you stay safe and make the most of your time away:

1. Be Cash Savvy

Wherever you decide to travel, cash is king. Therefore, you’ll want to do everything you can to keep your money safe. 

Consider buying a security belt and always ensure you have some spare cash in a hidden pocket or wallet for emergency situations. Some travellers even sew hidden pockets into their trousers for extra protection, while others sleep on their passport and wallet at night to ensure they aren’t stolen.

2. Consider Transport Options

On a trip around the world, it’s fun to try different modes of transport. But keep in mind that traffic accidents pose the greatest risk of injury or death to travellers anywhere. This this can be prevented with some simple precautions. If you decide to rent a car or motorbike, be sure that you feel confident enough to drive in the local area. For motorcycling always wear a helmet and protective clothing. If you can, avoid hiring a motorbike in Thailand – one of the most dangerous locations for road travel.

3. Invest in Medical Resources

At some point on your travels around the world, you’re going to need your First Aid kit. That’s why it’s important to invest in a kit that includes; plasters for blisters, scissors and bandages for sprains, Imodium and rehydration kits for upset tummies, paracetamol for headaches and much more. 

Research the countries you plan to visit in advance. For some locations, you will need vaccinations beforehand, for others such as Africa you might need to take additional medicine, such as mefloquine. And always be sure to get comprehensive travel insurance before you go.

4. Research your Accommodation

When it’s time to resting your weary head, you’ll want to sleep without keeping one eye open! That’s why it’s important to research your hostel or accommodation before booking. This includes reading reviews and checking out the local area. Also, try to avoid arriving to your hostel in the dark, so you can get your bearings.

A growing number of students today travel the world volunteering. As such, there are dedicated backpacker hostels for volunteering, which are easy to find on apps like Hosteleer. This is a great way to save money and see the world, often with other perks like laundry and meals thrown in. Since they rely on their reputation, they can be some of the most reputable places to stay. 

5. Share your Journey

It’s always wise to tell friends or family where you’re going, who you’re with and where they can reach you; especially if you’re going off grid, on a trek or adventure. If you decide to go exploring, try and go in a group rather than on your own – safety in numbers and all that.

There are even some great travel apps to download that allow designated contacts to follow you using your phone as a GPS device.

6. Invest in the Best

There are certain products that will serve you well on your travels around the world. Don’t think twice to invest in something that gives you peace of mind, or enhances your wellbeing. This includes a solid padlock, which you can use in lockers at backpacker hostels. A rubber door wedge, that will help prevent your room being broken in to, and a power bank for your mobile phone, for extra juice when you need it most. 

7. Copy your Documents

There’s nothing worse than losing your passport, or falling foul to pickpockets. That’s why it’s advisable to scan a copy of all your important documents and email them to yourself for reference. Create a folder in your inbox that’s dedicated to travel documents, this should include; details of your travel insurance, medical records, passport copies and personal contact numbers for backup.

8. Rideshare 

The advent of technology has made travelling that bit easier, especially getting around a city. Ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft allow you to share your journey with others in the area, for a fraction of the cost. Since drivers are traceable and journeys can be shared, this might be one of the safer ways for student travellers getting around. Best of all, they link back to your PayPal account, meaning that you don’t need cash on you.

9. Be Mindful of Where you Eat and Drink

No-one wants a case of ‘Delhi belly’ on holiday, which all too often comes from the food and drink we consume. Therefore, pay close attention to hygiene standards of restaurants and markets to avoid illness. Ask around for good recommendations, and try to avoid certain foods that are riskier, such as; raw meat and shellfish, foods with a skin on (a number of fruits) unless you wash them with purified water, and sauces and condiments that are left out in the sun.

Invest in water purifier tables and bring your own bottle to drink from.

10. Blend

Finally, one of the best ways to travel around the world safely is to blend in. The less you look like a tourist, the less vulnerable you’ll be. From dressing in local clothes, to observing local customs (e.g., women must cover up in most Muslim countries), it pays to blend in with the locals.

Likewise, make an effort to learn a few key words and phrases; from how to say ‘thank you’ to asking for the nearest bathroom. Knowing a few words will serve you well on your exciting travel adventure!

If you’re looking for fun hostel-volunteering opportunities in the best locations around the world, visit

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