Planning A Year-Long Urban Backpacking Trip

I am graduating from college this semester, and I find myself being pulled in a million directions. This instability of this time is both terrifying and exciting. I’m looking at jobs, graduate school, places to live, internships and traveling. But what I really want in my life is to spend some time exploring. I guess that’s what I’m going to do! I’ve made the purchase of a plane ticket, so there’s no going back. It’s one way plane ticket to Thailand ($317), and after a month, a connector flight to India ($48).

#1. Free Your Time

I’m graduating college this semester, so that’s easy for me. I don’t have a job, I don’t have any commitments. But I wonder what my life will be like later. I was just talking to my father on the phone, and he mentioned, “Gee I haven’t taken more than a week off in the last 10 years of working.” The concept that we need money is so that we can support a life that we want, but when will we start living?

#2. Buy a Plane Ticket

Buying a plane ticket is really all you need to do. It makes the commitment real, and everything else you technically could figure out once you are there. Although, if you do like to have a little more foresight, there is still plenty of time to plan prior to the date of your flight. So here’s what you do: Go on to google flights. Type in a major airport as a starting location, select a date you might be able to leave , and hit “explore destinations”. This is how I started getting hooked on traveling. I bought my first random flight as a late night decision of a round trip to India. Some people considered that really unsafe, but I am much more curious to experience the world than I am afraid of it. India has a much lower crime rate than the U.S., so I’m just as unsafe walking the streets here as I am walking the streets there. Obviously, I was much more cautious and aware of simple safety measures simply because of being out of my comfort zone and being alone.

#3. Packing

There are several big questions to consider when packing such as, what is the climate of the place I am going? Am I going to be spending time in wilderness or mostly urban areas? Will I be documenting my trip through photography and blogs? What do I need in order to be able to find my way around? This could be a whole article in itself, and I probably will make it one. But in short, I’ll share some of the ways I tackled these questions. I decided not to bring sleeping bag because I was going to be in urban areas and sleeping outside really would not have been safe. I did bring a sleeping bag liner, which is warmer than a typical sheet, but functions as one. For my upcoming trip to Thailand, I will bring the sleeping bag liner again and a mosquito net because the environment demands that. Clothing-wise, I plan to bring one pair of jeans, one pair of leggings, 5 plain 5 shirts, a medium jacket, 5 pairs of socks, sandals, hiking boots, 15 pairs of underwear, and 2 fabric bras. I only want to bring a day pack size bag since I will be going everywhere with it. Also the cost of a new shirt is so low in Thailand (~$1), that the cost-burden ratio is in favor of just accumulating things as I might need them. As far as documentation goes, my iPhone serves as the jack of all trades. I am purchasing a bluetooth keyboard that plugs in to my iPhone for blogging, and am using it as my camera. Although it would be wonderful to have a better form of taking photos, I would need a computer to be able to download my photos to, and both of those things would increase the valuables I am responsible for and the weight to carry. One of the good things about photos on an iPhone is that I can upload them directly. Also my phone can run blogging websites and essentially function as a computer.

#4 Getting Around

Depending on where you’re going, language barriers could potentially be a struggle. I think it’s useful to have a phraise book. It’s as easy as just downloading one on iBooks or your smart phone. I wished I had one when I was in China, but in India I could find someone that spoke English no matter where I was. I recommend that everyone have a travel book. My favorite brand is Lonley planet because they are focused on a budget friendly backpackers guide versus the more tourist focused guides. This was very useful in identifying a plan for the day and I had a map of each city I went to. This made it easy to ask for directions, and made me feel comfortable with the spontaneity of not having things planned out. If I needed direction, I could always just refer back to my book to see where to go next.

#5 Funding Your Trip
Again, this is a topic that I could write a whole article about (stay tuned).

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