A rundown on preparing for the big backpacking trip

June is creeping its way in… And you know what that means to me.

Barely a month from now, I’ll be doing my first ever backpacking trip outside the country. South East Asia Mainland to be specific. (I’ll discuss this in detail after our trip).

It’s been six months in the making. Together with my three other travel buddies, we’ve started planning for this trip since early January. Since one of them is based in the US (she’ll be coming home to the Philippines for that), we’ve been mostly exchanging messages through our private Facebook thread. Yes, planning this way is possible. ;)

We had a lot of things to consider: our travel dates, plane tickets, itinerary, budget, things to bring. Here’s what we’ve done so far since the beginning of the year:

1. Our travel dates – Why not summer? As much as we wanted to, one of us will only be regularized in her company by June so she could not take a vacation leave before that. April or May options were out. We also had to consider the length of trip. Given our work schedules, we canNOT take a month long.

2. Plane tickets – Three of us in the Philippines waited for Cebu Pacific‘s international route promos. We even lined up for long hours in the Travel Expo in SMX last February, thinking that we could avail cheaper round trip tickets, but we didn’t get a good deal! Finally, we booked last March but just one way. We had to wait for another promo for our return ticket but we’re flying out in another country. At that point, we knew our trip is definitely a GO.

3. Itinerary – This is the tricky part. I’m the type of traveler who wants a detailed itinerary planned though I know this is subject to change and I’m flexible to that. We’ve weighed whether we should squeeze in one more country or not; whether we should do a non-stop wandering, going to many places as possible or a slower-paced, dig-deeper exploration. (Here’s an interesting article from Lonely Planet discussing this debate.)

I have a lot of sources to research from:

  • Bought a book by Robert Alejandro: “The Sketching Backpacker.” Described it here in one of my previous entries.
  • Borrowed a book from another backpacker by Lonely Planet: “Southeast Asia on a Shoestring.” The backpacker’s bible for Southeast Asia. Reading this book is just making me dream about those temples, museums, monks, beaches, clubs, culture, Asian locals… Aaahh…
  • Posted in groups in CouchSurfing. We may even meet up with fellow CouchSurfers along the way. :)
  • Also posted in the Thorn Tree Forum of Lonely Planet. I got funny and interesting tips and hints, (and even violent reactions) from fellow travelers.
  • As I was searching through the internet, I came across Seat61.com which explains how to travel by train to and from and within countries, recommended routes, train times, approximate fares, etc. Trains and buses will definitely be mostly our means of transportation.
  • Thailand Train Ticket is another helpful site for checking train schedules in that country. I have yet to try booking for train rides here.
  • The Guide to Sleeping in Airports is another noteworthy site since we might end up doing that. It has the latest airport reviews, showing which airports you can sleep in, with actual airport sleeping experiences and advice from airport sleepers and travelers.
  • There’s also an upcoming backpacking talk entitled “Wanderlass“, on Wednesday, June 1, 2011, 7:00 pm at R.O.X. – Bonifacio High St. Lilliane Cobiao will talk about about her past trips and her upcoming round the world trip and Joncy Sumulong about his latest India and South East Asia Trip. I’ll let you know what I learned soon from this talk.
4. Budget – From mid-year bonus to lunch baons, one pay-slip after another, I’ve been saving up for this long haul. What I learned through my research is that big trips are POSSIBLE for small budgets–a shoestring budget.

5. What to bring – I was actually planning to buy a backpack already but a friend offered to lend me his. (Though I would buy if this is going to be a regular thing already). As in my previous post, I have my travel shoes ready. I’m still contemplating if I should bring my DSLR and what lens to bring, how many sets of clothes, etc. I just want to be as LIGHT as possible. Here’s an article from Lonely Planet on how to pack for a big trip.

Meanwhile, I came across this site: No Baggage Challenge. Rolf Potts travels around the world with no luggage! And I thought packing for a backpacking trip was hard!

6. Physical preparation – I HAVE to be healthy beforehand! Been taking vitamins and finally pulled myself together to exercise for endurance. :)

PLANS! PLANS! PLANS! These are all plans but we’ll never know how it turns out until we’re there.

I’m not that excited right? Hahaha!

And so the countdown begins. :)

2 thoughts on “A rundown on preparing for the big backpacking trip

  1. Hey, Great article, just finished my Southeast Asia Backpacking trip and im missing it already!Check out my bloghttp://www.myalternativelife.net For more tips and guides on backpacking in Southeast Asia. Thanks

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