Often when budgeting for a trip, there is a focus on the costs that will be occurred while traveling. However, when preparing for a backpacking trip, there are a number of costs that will be (should be) occurred before you start budgeting the hostels and tickets and food and ta da da da da. This causes some anxiety and deters from where the focus should remain throughout – the experience.
I’m going to highlight some costs for you and explain why they are more convenient (and possibly cheaper) to purchase before your trip. Since I’m leaving for South America on October 10th, these costs will be very up to date.
From the beginning
1. To backpack, you will need a backpack. Oh, hey!
You will actually need a backpack – of which sizes and tips are explained on how to pack a backpack – as well as a day pack. The day pack can contain your phone, travel documents, USBs, water, food and any items that you need to get access to easily. There will be some repeating items from the mentioned post, but believe me, these are items worth repeating. A good 40L backpack can cost you between $90-105. A day pack will vary a lot more because of the versatility they can provide. But you can expect to budget around $35-60. Backpacks are major investments and can run you a little bit. It’s as important to choose the style as it is the features. You will be carrying it on your back for the next little while and living out of it. So make sure you love it!
2. I got myself an RFID (radio-frequency identification) protected wallet to keep my passport and travel documents in. The RFID blocks losers (which is what they will be referred to from hereon because, what else are they, really) that try to steal your information through electromagnetic fields. Because passports have those magnetic fields that are scanned to identify you at borders and airports, a loser does not have to physically grab your passport from you. They can walk by with a device that has electromagnetic field transfer capability, which could even be a few inches from you, and steal your data electronically. These will cost you around $25 and can be a game changing investment.
3. Locks. Dollar store. A dudley or the like. And even a key lock with a few keys. You want both just in case you come across a hostel that only lets you put on a certain type of lock OR have lockers that can only handle a certain kind. So covering your basis can be helpful. It’s rare to run into that problem, but this sort of planning will cost you $1-2 and be a load off your mind. Stash the keys in different areas of the backpack. Having more than one lock can also be beneficial when you stay at a hostel that has less than stand-up people, so that you can lock your backpack to at least deter the weak willed losers.
4. An addition to locks, when it comes to protecting your backpack, you may think about getting a bag protector. They are like nets that go over your backpack, have a lock and make it difficult for someone to take it because: a) you can wear it anymore when the wiring is over it, b) it can look intimidating and a hassle to take, c) and the pockets are protected, so reaching inside isn’t an option. If someone is desperate enough, they will go the lengths to take your things, but I have yet to come across any experience of the sort, nor have I personally met anyone that has had their backpack stolen. I did purchase a pacsafe bag protector, but never ended up taking it on any trips. So it turned out to be a waste of about $90 for me.
5. Sunscreen and mosquito repellent will be critical to purchase from home in order to get a “safe” amount of chemicals in them. Deodorant (I told you I would repeat things that needed to be. Don’t show up at the airport when I’m there if you don’t have any. Forreal.) is another valuable that is on that list. See the link above for more details on these items .
6. Travel insurance and travel medicine can save your life and your trip. That got really dark, but having travel insurance will be a must. You can go to your bank and purchase it through them. Even basic package will cover your needs but upgrading to another level is highly recommended. This is because the coverage will extend in value and can include insurance on $1,000 of lost items. You’re looking to spend between $85-110, depending on your bank. I got mine through TD and because I had the Infinite First Class rewards card, I was covered up to 21 days and only had to pay $30 to extend it to 34 days. I remember paying about $85 when I was with RBC for about 30 days with similar coverage.
It is imperative that you stay organized within your backpack and its contents. To do so, you can get things like packing cubes to keep your clothes in order so that doing laundry isn’t a hassle (as if).
Flights, bus rides and just being out can be mundane at times, especially in that down time. Getting yourself a tablet, notebook or a MacBook Air can be a solid investment. You’re looking at anywhere between $72 – 1,200 here obviously, but having something to read on those devices will save you space from having to bring bulky books and keep you organized with lists, reminders, calendar updates, etc. I’m going to look to do this myself, as I took a couple Game of Thrones books with me in the past, but the space they would take up, and having to load and unload them (in a backpack, everything little think can become a nuisance if you’re not organized) was beginning to irritate me. There is a little boy out there in Cambodia, learning English from my Clash of Kings book that he found on a stand at a bazaar.
Do you have any costs that are a must-incur before leaving? I’d love to hear about them!