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To some, the idea of travelling around the world with your partner for several months is the dream, but others see it as a potential nightmare. Spending all your time with the same person can be stressful, and if you’re not prepared, the experience will really test your relationship.
Fear not though, because many travellers manage to backpack as a couple with next to no problems at all. In fact, most will tell you it’s made their relationship stronger, not weaker.
If you’re planning a couple’s backpacking trip and want to know how to avoid the arguments, the tips below will prove invaluable!
Solo travellers are used to being able to do what they want, when they want, how they want, and it can be quite difficult to adjust to the mentality of backpacking with someone else. The truth is, there is absolutely no room to be selfish – you need to compromise on everything.
If out of the two of you you’re the seasoned traveller, avoid trying to take control of everything. Plan the trip with them and let them have a say. Tom Bourlet suggests taking it in turns:
Just because you’re travelling together doesn’t mean you have to enjoy the exact same experiences. If your partner really wants to go skydiving, but you have a huge fear of heights, instead of convincing them not to go, let them! You can do your own thing in the meantime.
Make sure you plan any time apart carefully, though. You’ll need to know exactly where the other person is going and roughly how long they’ll be. Propose a time and place to meet up at the end of the day and stick to it, as it might not be possible to call each other. You don’t want to make your partner worry!
When you do finally meet up with each other again you’ll be excited to share the details of your day and you’ll no doubt feel a bit more relaxed after having some breathing space from your partner (and their annoying habits!).
It sounds obvious, doesn’t it? And yet a lack of communication is one of the biggest reasons why couples fall out and break up. Talking to each other is even more important when you’re backpacking, as travelling the world is much more stressful than just sitting at home!
Whenever you’re feeling tired, hungry or you’re just not enjoying yourself, don’t expect your partner to read your mind. Tell them exactly how you feel and offer a way to solve the problem. For example, if you’re bored of sunbathing, let them know you want to take a quick walk; if you’re not feeling well, ask your partner for help. Being open and honest will stop a lot of arguments breaking out.
When you’re having to put up with your partner’s tummy troubles and sharing a bedroom with several strangers, it can be difficult to inject some romance into your backpacking trip, but it’s hugely important. Arrange to have ‘date nights’ on a regular basis – this could involve anything from dressing up and heading to a cocktail bar, or simply enjoying a private picnic on the beach.
Elizabeth Smythe recommends switching around the sleeping arrangements once in a while too. “On occasion, if budget allows, splash out on a private room, rather than sleeping in a dorm,” she told us. “Also, if you’re camping, bear in mind that people can hear everything in a tent.”
Unless you’re very lucky, it’s quite likely that your partner’s spending habits differ from your own. Money, or rather how it’s spent, can be another issue that causes arguments. Therefore, it’s best to agree on a daily budget before you go. Remember, you won’t be able to buy a lot of souvenirs, as you have to carry everything you have on your back!
Of course, if you want to treat yourself to a lovely meal out or a special activity that’s outside your budget, feel free to. Just make sure you and your partner agree on the decision – don’t go running off with any cash!
Backpacking is tiring and all that walking and travelling is bound to make a person grumpy. Therefore, it’s vital to get enough sleep every night – if you’re struggling to drift off to the land of nod, consider buying some medication to help you. Don’t eat or drink late at night either.
Not eating enough can also make you or your partner snappy for no reason. We recommend keeping some snacks on you at all times, such as fruit, cereal bars, anything that will give you a burst of energy. Taking regular breaks is definitely the key to staying happy!
Before you travel together there will be a few things to agree upon. Destination, budgets, what you need to pack, how long you’ll go for and what you are looking to get from your travelling experience together.
Research destinations, of course there is the usual South-East Asia tours, make sure you look at all options and tailor your trip on you as a couple, remember to compromise!
Insurance companies offer couples travel insurance which can reduce your overall premium, obviously take into consideration medical conditions and activities you are looking to do whilst travelling.
Work out budgets based around what you can afford. You’ll usually find that the flights are the most expensive cost to consider, once you’ll there make use of local bus services to get you from A to B.
We at Holidaysafe wish you the best of luck on your couple’s backpacking adventure. Remember the tips above, and you and your partner will have a wonderful time. For more backpacking advice, click here.
Backpacking can be a hugely rewarding experience when done right – you’ll make some amazing memories to cherish for the rest of your life. If you’re planning a gap year or simply want to explore the world (and why not, eh?), you’ll want to know what to expect.
Who better to ask for advice than the experts? We spoke to those who had already lived the dream of staying in youth hostels and camping in jungles, and asked them for their top tips. Here’s what they said.
It should go without saying that it’s a bad idea to walk around flashing all of your cash, but if you’re travelling to an area where pickpocketing is common, you should avoid storing any money in a wallet or somewhere easily accessible, like a pocket.
Instead, take a money wallet with you, so you can keep any notes underneath your t-shirt. If you’re a lady, you might want to take Holly Cooper’s advice:
Additionally, it’s a good idea to take some spare US dollars with you, as it’s a currency that’s accepted in a large number of places, especially in countries which have unstable economies.
Of course, you might need to protect more than just your wallet. In these instances, place a bag protector over your rucksack. These are steel wire meshes that will stop potential thieves from taking anything from your bag.
Men rarely have to worry about how they’re going to go to the bathroom when there isn’t one, but for women it’s a different story. Ellie Whiston recommends investing in a Shewee – a device that lets women urinate whilst standing. You don’t even need to remove your clothes!
“99 per cent of the time you’re fine, but those two or three times you need to use it you’ll be eternally grateful,” Ellie says.
If, at any point, you’re going to be camping or trekking through a jungle, you’re going to come into contact with leeches. There’s not much you can do to repel them, but Alex Matheson says there is an easy way to remove them.
“Use a lighter or matches to make them fall off,” he suggests. Be careful not to burn yourself, though!
Remember that you’ll have to carry everything you take with you on your back all day, so don’t buy the biggest rucksack you can find. Be wary of what you pack too – you don’t need 30 pairs of socks and underwear, as there will be places to wash your clothes at your chosen destination. The same goes for toiletries; you’ll be able to buy most things you need on the go.
“You’ll thank yourself in the end for not taking that extra 10L,” says Ellie.
To test how heavy your bag is, and whether you’ll be able to carry it all, wear your rucksack before you go. Pack everything you’re planning to take with you and go walking with it on all day. You’ll soon know whether you’ve packed too much.
Related reading: View our full backpacking checklist for more details of what you’ll need to take with you.
They may not taste great, but iodine tablets will ensure you “always have clean water to drink,” says Alex. If you are trekking through the jungle, clean water may not be in abundance, so you will need to purify anything you collect from a stream or river. Otherwise you will risk getting very sick!
“Before you go anywhere let someone know where you are going and don’t do it alone without a guide,” Alex notes. Indeed, this is great advice, as if no one has a clue where you are or when you’re meant to be back, then how will anyone know if you’ve gone missing? Moreover, a trusted local guide will not only be able to help you get to your destination, they’ll also keep you safe and inform you of the best places to eat, sleep and more. Even the most experienced travellers should avoid going anywhere alone, especially if they don’t know the area.
Alex Jones says a sleeping bag liner can come in handy in many situations, even if you’re staying in a hostel. After all, you might not want to sleep on a bed that thousands of other travellers have slept on, particularly if there are any dodgy stains present! Thankfully, sleeping bag liners won’t take up much room in your pack.
Headlamps are great if you’re going camping, as they make it easy to rifle through your bag, read and go to the loo in the dark without the inconvenience of having to hold a torch with one hand. However, as WanderTooth points out, you’ll want a headlamp if you’re staying in hostels too.
You may be on a budget, but as Alex says, investing in a good pair of boots is vital. You’ll be wearing them all day every day, so make sure they’re comfortable and won’t give you blisters. If you’re going trekking or will be walking anywhere that may be muddy, then your boots must be waterproof and have a decent grip too. Wet socks will make your feet sore and uncomfortable.
If we had to give one piece of advice, it would be to plan thoroughly. Researching your destination will help you decide on what to pack, where to stay and what to do during your adventure. Of course, don’t forget to purchase travel insurance for backpackers before you leave – you’ll need a special backpacker insurance policy, which will cover you for extended trips. We wish you the best of luck on your first backpacking experience; you’ll have the trip of a lifetime!
For many, no holiday is complete without the odd drink, from a pool side pina colada to a malt whiskey to keep you warm on those winter breaks; there is something for every palate.While the temptation may be to drink more than you usually would (it is a holiday after all) there are a few things you should bear in mind before hitting the bar.
For the most part the weather in the UK is generally dull. This means the risk of becoming dehydrated from drinking in the sun is not something we usually worry about, aside from the brief hot spells in the summer months.
However, dehydration is something which can become extremely dangerous in hotter climates. Although it’s a liquid, alcohol actually makes you more dehydrated so it is important to drink water at regular intervals.
Respect the local laws and customs
Travelling is all about experiencing local customs, but with this experience comes a level of responsibility to show respect. Laws will vary dramatically in different countries and something which is legal in one could see you facing prison in another. Research the local laws and etiquette before travelling to avoid any unnecessary embarrassment or legal issues.
One of the most exciting aspects of backpacking (and any kid of travelling) is experiencing new cultures and customs first hand. And what better way to do that than indulging in the local specialities.
Every country has their own national drink, albeit their own take on a classic. To help you make the rounds and try what the world has to offer, we have compiled a handy little breakdown of the top tipples from around the world.
France has long been renowned for its excellent cuisine and the drink available is no exception. Most commonly associated with the production of wine and champagne, France offers much more than the odd bottle of plonk.
Absinthe – Banned for almost a century, this once controversial drink was invented by a French doctor by the name of Pierre Ordinaire in 1792, just after the French revolution. Originally created as a medical treatment and used for everything from curing Epilepsy to headaches, it soon became a firm favourite for Parisians.
No longer used in medical treatments, it is a piece of French history which should not be missed if you find yourself exploring the old streets of Paris.
Be warned, drinking too much is more likely to cause a headache than cure one!
Cognac – Named after the town it originated from, Cognac is a variety of brandy. Although not particularly popular with the French population, surprisingly it is a firm favourite with Asia, with much of the produce being shipped internationally.
If you visit a traditional Cognac house, you may be lucky enough to step inside the exclusive underground storehouse which plays host to the oldest and most valuable vintages.
Vodka – When you think of Russia you think of Vodka, and they take their national drink very seriously. Generally a staple for toasting at any celebration or occasion be prepared to drink a lot if visiting Russia. Unlike the west, Russians tend not to mix their vodka instead drinking it straight.
Men are expected to down their shots in one, while woman are generally excused. Should you find yourself drinking with the locals, never leave an empty vodka bottle on the table, empty bottles must be placed on the floor.
Samogon – Overshadowed by the Russian reputation for vodka, if you travel outside of the cities you will find the drink of choice for the majority of Russians is Samogon.
A type of moonshine, it comes in a variety of flavours all proving to be extremely strong. While we would advise to stay away from this atomic homebrew, there is a commercial brand available in bars called “Kosogorov Samogon” which is fighting for shelf space against its rival vodka.
Tequila – When most of us think of tequila we think of shots with salt and a slice of lime, but tequila connoisseurs will tell you how it should be sipped and savoured to enjoy the taste. By law tequila can only be produced in the Mexican state of Jalisco. This preserves the authenticity of the recipe and taste.
Chances are you won’t have to go out of your way to find good tequila when in Mexico as a national favourite you will see your fair share.
Mekhong – Thailand is renowned for its love of whiskey and with many available you will be spoilt for choice. Thailand’s first domestically produced golden spirit; it was put into production in 1941 and has since become the most popular branded drink in Thailand.
Despite being classified as a whiskey, the spirit is actually much closer to rum. Often used as the main ingredient in the infamous “Buckets” (a small metal bucket filled with ice, mixers, alcohol and a handful of straws to share).
Some countries have strict laws on alcohol consumption, specifically where you can drink. As always you should research you destination beforehand to get the most out of your adventure.
Wherever you end up on your travels and whatever you end up drinking, ensure you do it responsibly and respect the local laws and cultures.
Foods of the World; something people claim to know a lot about judging by the volume of dishes that are recreated across the globe. But nothing can be more authentic than trying food in its natural surroundings and native country. Not only to enjoy the locally sourced ingredients often used but to mingle with the people, atmosphere and culture which can change your dining experience tenfold. Around the World, food is a massive driver in welcoming guests or used to showcase how proud people are of their heritage. This is why we have delicacies and traditions across in all corners of the globe…
A memorable experience may differ upon expectations and we are going to talk about a guerrilla, off the cuff style dining that will provide memories long after you return home from your travels. When backpacking, it is recommended you fully immerse yourself in the destination you visit and that means living like the locals. Partake in their traditions, visit sites with historical significance and make the most of opportunities you won’t find at home…
Many people go travelling and spend their time seeking the home comforts we crave but don’t particularly need, restricting themselves to food they know, like and recognize. There is such a vast variety of food served that has been developed in the style and authenticity of the region you are in that creates huge diversity among destinations and an air of spontaneity. You can’t head out to Malaysia and avoid eating something from a banana leaf and you wouldn’t dream of backpacking the World without trying any tasty local street foods. Here is our pick of the bunch:
The key to finding the best gelato is to explore…now the architecture in Rome is sensational…if you like to explore, you can visit the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon and more. Similar to famous landmarks, gelato is not hard to find in Rome, so why not test out some of the most beautiful gelato en route?
The best kept secret to a Jamaican is their special jerk chicken recipes. Served from a traditional smoky jerk hut and complete with a myriad of flavour, if you are in this part of the World, you have to get your hands on some of this chicken. Cooked using a variety of methods and marinated for hours, this will melt in your mouth!
Heading to Portugal? Pick up what could perhaps be the tastiest pastry you’ll ever try! Created before the 18th century, these egg tart pastries are a sugary delight, native to Lisbon but introduced to regions with significant Portuguese populations. You’ll soon know where to find them with street stalls and bakeries flooding with customers.
Germays favourite fast food! Commonly found in the capital Berlin, the traditional Currywurst is a boiled bratwurst cut into pieces, topped with a tomato based sauce, curry powder, and paprika served with a roll (Brötchen) or fries. The Currywurst has risen in popularity across the country – you will smell them a mile off and see dedicated food stalls everywhere!
If you are looking for the most enjoyable and typical dish to have for your trip to Singapore, it is hard to overlook Chilli Crab. This Singaporean seafood dish is a must try dish to complete the culinary exploring journey of any travellers, simply iconic.
Tunnbrödsrulle is a popular fast food meal in Sweden, which is traditionally bought from stands placed on the streets. It consists of grilled sausages wrapped in a tunnbröd (flat bread), dressed with mashed potatoes, ketchup, tomatoes, mustard, onion, pickled cucumber, lettuce, and creamy shrimp salad dressing. Obscure, but worth a try!
Known more commonly as a Spanish doughnut, Churros are a fried snack sprinkled with sugar and dipped in chocolate, typically enjoyed for breakfast or as a snack. Thought to be developed centuries ago by Spanish shepherds, Churros are extremely popular among locals and you’ll find these everywhere from street stalls to restaurant menus.
No matter where you decide to travel, there will be a delectable dining delight just around the corner. Take the opportunity to try something new. Something that seems particularly quirky to you is just a day in the life for someone else. This is what travelling is all about, new experiences, new traditions and inevitably a new outlook on a destination you have welcomed first hand.
It’s a common misconception that you can just go and buy the first travel insurance policy you see and it will cover you for everything you need, for all of your trip. However, the reality is quite different, with various policies having huge lists of terms and conditions, as well as exclusions. Reading the actual policy wording or document is essential because if you end up needing to claim when you’re away and find that your policy doesn’t cover you, there’s a real risk of you having to foot a very steep bill.
Some insurance policies won’t cover you for existing medical conditions, particularly if there is a chance that you could relapse or have some sort of complication as a result of it when you are on your trip. Some conditions are covered, but you need to make sure that you have declared everything as well as list any medication that you take.
Don’t forget to mention any medical conditions that may have affected you in the past. Even if these conditions are now stable and under control, such as asthma or high blood pressure, these will still need to be declared, just in case.
If you are planning to do some extreme sports when you’re away, check what your insurance policy will and won’t cover. Things like diving and other watersports are often covered, but they may need to be a bolt on for the standard policy. If you want to take part in more white-knuckle activities, you will need to check your policy more closely.
Bungee jumping and micro lighting are just a couple of things that you may decide you want to do when you are on your travels, however these more unusual activities are not always included in standard packages. Make sure you list every single activity that you are even considering doing, otherwise you could find that you’re not covered when you get there, preventing you from doing it or tempting you to take a big risk.
There are a number of things that could go wrong during your trip and it’s very difficult to prepare for them all. You may miss your flight, change your plans or even get mugged. Things like this are not always covered by your travel insurance, so you need to check what you are and are not insured for beforehand. While it’s not nice to think about, you need to be realistic about the chances of having your things stolen while you’re away. Some countries have higher crime rates than others, so this is worth keeping in mind.
While you will of course have travel insurance before you leave, there are things you can do to protect yourself when you’re away as well. Take care not to carry too much cash around with you and try to draw it out in stages when you get to each new destination. Similarly, fitting a lock to your backpack can help to keep your belongings more secure.
When you are out and about, keep everything securely stowed away in a bag that you hold close to your body; don’t go waving around any expensive items like mobile phones or your passport. Make sure you have all the right papers with you at all times in case you are stopped at any point. It will save you time in the long run and the last thing you want is to be refused access to a country because you don’t have a valid visa.
There are many things that could go wrong, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will. As long as you stay aware of everything and prepare as much as you possibly can in advance, you should be able to enjoy your backpacking trip without any issues. Just make sure you read through all the terms and conditions of your travel insurance before you leave and get a quality policy which meets your needs.
If you’re planning a backpacking holiday or a Gap Year it is more than likely that you will spend some time in a hostel. Hostels tend to come with an unfair stigma attached; they are associated with dirty, dangerous and unruly hovels.
Contrary to popular belief, many hostels are great places to stay; they are safe, welcoming, comfortable and clean. They generally have rooms with multiple beds, a kitchen, showers, and a socialising area.
Nevertheless, staying in a hostel does come with a period of adjustment, just like living in university halls. Below are our tips and advice for thriving and enjoying your time in hostels:
The final key to surviving any trip is to make sure you invest in travel insurance, to make sure you and your possessions are fully protected. Explore what the world has to offer, with Holidaysafe.
Making the decision to go on a Gap Year or a Backpacking adventure is an amazing and exciting undertaking; however for the people left behind it can be a frightening and stressful realisation. Parents find it especially hard to cope with their child’s decision to leave home for months on end, so we have created our top tips and advice for the parents left behind.
Saying goodbye to your kids is never easy, especially when you know they are going away for an extended period. Make sure you mentally prepare yourself and make the goodbye short and sweet. Remember that they are excited; don’t make them feel bad by crying hysterically and begging them not to go!
Remember, just because they are abroad does not necessarily mean that all common sense will leave them. They probably will drink alcohol and take some risks, but don’t tie yourselves in knots imagining your usually sensible child doing all kinds of crazy things. Besides, if you leave them to it they are less likely to rebel and more likely to keep you informed!
Although it may be difficult, try not to moan at them for being less than proactive about their cleanliness, unfortunately it is a part of the backpacking lifestyle. This trip is a chance for them to have an adventure, explore other cultures and grow up; this won’t happen if their parents are still reminding them to clean their teeth from thousands of miles away.
There will be a time when they are extremely homesick and you miss them and want them home, but your job is to cheer them up and remind them to follow their dreams.
On social media sites – they will not thank you and you probably don’t want to know anyway!
Obviously you want them to have money and a way to contact you in an emergency, but this trip was (most likely) their idea so you shouldn’t be left with massive bills. Look into pre-paid cards and top up phones so you can keep track of their spending.
The worst thing about your children being away from home is the fear that something will happen to them. Every now and again you do hear horror stories about young backpackers getting ill or injured, but if the trip is properly planned and researched, then in reality the danger is not much higher than in the UK. If you want to know that your child will have help and protection if they get into trouble abroad, you must get them travel insurance before they leave.
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When planning a trip overseas a little bit of research can save you an enormous amount of embarrassment, and money. The number of Brits arrested abroad rises every year, and no-one wants to spend their holiday in a foreign prison or incur heavy fines because they’ve upset the local populace by flouting local customs and by-laws.
Here are our top tips for avoiding encounters with the law abroad;
It is important that you familiarise yourself with local laws and customs before you go away. For the latest travel advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), check our handy Know before you go page.
Modern travellers rely on their mobile phones not just for games and apps, but as a means of communication. However, just bringing your mobile phone along for your travels does not necessarily mean you will be able to stay in touch, or contact anyone in an emergency.
Here are our tops tips to make sure you stay in contact abroad;
Some of these points may seem over cautious, however if you do face an emergency abroad, you will soon realise how much you need to rely on your phone. Your travel insurer will always endeavour to help you if you face a medical emergency, however communication can easily break down if they cannot contact you.
Going on a solo trip can seem like a frightening experience. However, some people may find it to be one of the most enjoyable experiences of their life. Travelling alone means you don’t have anyone else influencing your decisions, preferences or plans and you can truly indulge yourself in new experiences. Of course, there are safety risks associated with travelling alone so make sure you stay smart on your travels and still have fun.
While it can be tempting to dress like a tourist and carry a guide book around wherever you go, try not to come across as someone who has no idea where they are going. This can give you an air of vulnerability and make you a target for unsavoury people. Act like you blend in and are not new to the area.
Walking with confidence and purpose will make you look as though you know the area well, even if you don’t. Keep your wits about you and try to avoid making yourself a target. If you are lost, don’t be afraid to ask for directions but imply you are meeting somebody at your destination so it doesn’t become apparent that you are travelling alone.
Travelling solo often means you fall victim to the single supplement. Often applying to hotels, the supplement can mean you end up paying up to twice as much as someone who’s travelling with a partner. There are companies that offer room-mate services whereby you are paired up with someone in your room and don’t have to pay the supplement. This can save you a fortune but do your research to find out who you will be sharing a room with.
There are some people who say travelling alone will be lonely but that absolutely doesn’t have to be the case. When it comes to eating out, don’t be afraid to talk to the restaurant staff. They will give you a real insight to the local area and may introduce you to some new friends along the way.
If you feel awkward eating alone, you can always order room service or take a book along with you. There will probably be ex-pat bars in a lot of places so if you are feeling uncomfortable then head for one of these to feel a bit more relaxed.
You might find yourself feeling drained after a while into your trip. Constantly having to be vigilant to your surroundings can start to feel exhausting after a few weeks so consider taking a step back when this happens. Put your itinerary on hold for a couple of days and slow things down. You might even want to remove a few things from your travel plans and check into a spa for a day or two. It’ll let you recharge you batteries and remove some of your worries for a while.
However long you are away for, make sure you touch base with family and friends regularly. Give them a detailed version of your itinerary before you leave and try to call, email or text every other day so that they know you are safe. While it’s not likely that anything bad will happen, making regular contact will put their minds at rest and also ensure you keep in touch with the people you left back at home.
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