South-East Asia, as a travel destination for backpackers, is perhaps now more appealing than ever before. Dreamy desert islands, pristine clear water, unbeatable street food paired with the hustle and bustle of the nightlife wherever you go is sure to enliven the senses. As good as this sounds, it is important to remember you are entering a completely different world.
Backpacking is most popular among the 18-24 generation and whilst exploring and discovering a new, yet highly different part of the world is exciting, it is just as important to remember just a few key points to help you enjoy your time away and hopefully learn a thing or two about a culture which is vastly different to what we know as a norm.
20 Fail to get your visa, and you won't see the outside of the airport!
South-East Asian countries, particularly Thailand, are very strict about the visa process, even for traveling. While most countries around the world allow visa-less entry for tourism purposes, most within SEA do require a visa, so ensure you research the requirements prior to your arrival. Note that if you overstay, whether it's accidental or not, Zafigo says you are in for a shock.
19 Pack Less
Packing less is a point that cannot be stressed enough! Hiking is already unpleasant with a large, awkward bag around your shoulders, so do yourself a favor and pack less. Ultimate Travel recommends bringing as little as possible and pick up something cheap at the many markets you will find along the way.
18 Being Polite or Maintaining Wellbeing?
As a young backpacker in South-East Asia, it is important that you speak up when you don't think something is right, otherwise, you might find yourself being taken advantage of as, Zafigo knows all too well. It is important to speak up and let people know exactly what you want, otherwise, it could ruin your whole experience.
17 Don't Fall Into The Trap Of Depending On Others
It is important that as backpackers you do not rely on the services, money, safety or companionship of others. Sure, it is great to be able to count on someone when you need it the most, but just remember that they are there to have an experience of a lifetime too.
16 Take Your Foot Off The Pedal
While SEA is full of adventures and undiscovered paths, is it also important to take some time out and put your feet up. Soak in the sun and the memories you have made and the friends you have met. If not, then your whole trip will become a blur, just like The Travel Hack has experienced.
15 Make Sure You Plan Accordingly
There is a sense of excited anxiety when traveling to a place without prior research, and for some people that is great, however, SEA is a place where it is recommended to somewhat plan your trip. This is just to have an idea of the history, culture, average daily spend and so on.
14 Don't Over-Plan
While planning your trip is highly recommended throughout the SEA region, it is important to remember that too much planning will take away the freedom of the backpacking adventure. Rough Guides says learning to let go and chill out is one of the many lessons you will learn along your backpacking adventure.
13 Be Realistic with Budget
Nowadays, it is all too common to see millennial backpackers, also known as 'begpackers', in SEA begging for money from locals to fund the next part of their journey, as Pulse suggests. While the region may be significantly cheaper than others, it is recommended to budget a little bit more than you expect to use, in case of any emergency.
12 Be Prepared to Miss the Little Things!
Traveling is exciting, spending time with your friends or discovering yourself away from home is a feeling like no other. Be that as it may, no matter how much you are enjoying yourself, there will always be a spot in your heart for home and the norms you are used to every day, according to The Travel Hack.
11 Be Prepared to Discover New Things!
Some backpackers, whilst enjoying their experience in the region, do not open themselves up and try new things. After all, isn't this what backpacking, nay, traveling, is about? Go Abroad says South East Asia is the best place to discover new cultural practices, religions, food and an overall different way of living.
10 Optimism Will Go Far
Leaving home as a young backpacker and entering into a completely different world where you know very little to nothing about the culture or traditions is a very scary feeling, there is no sugar-coating it. Backpacking allows you to think back to your roots and appreciate the things you do have, and as The Travel Hack, take nothing for granted.
9 Watch Your Money
Watching your money is critical in SEA, not only from theft, but there are so many things to buy at such cheap prices that you won't even notice your money dwindling down. Keep a daily or weekly spend tracker so you know exactly what you have left.
8 Stress Less
There is perhaps no better region in the world that takes meditation, yoga, and stressing less more seriously than SEA. After all, you are in one of the most zen regions in the world. As Ultimate Travel says, the bad stories that come out of SEA should not stop you from enjoying your trip.
7 It Is Not Recommended To Travel Alone
It's best to travel with friends or an organized tour group around SEA, and it is beneficial for several reasons. According to Backpacker Advice, firstly, you get to meet new people and perhaps make friends for life from around the world. Secondly, you will have more fun in a group, no matter if they are strangers or friends!
6 Respect Cultural Boundaries
South-East Asia is a place where there are thousand-year-old traditions spanning the whole region, and it is important as backpackers, that these boundaries are respected. Residents of the region are very cultural and traditional people so respecting these boundaries is very important if not, you can be prosecuted!
5 Make Yourself Aware of The Currency Exchange
Exchange rates in South East Asia are usually very hard to calculate in your head which is why it is important to download an app on your phone that can help you. Not only is it important to help you keep a track of your money, but it is critical so that you don't get ripped off by local merchants.
4 Stay Away From Sit Down Food
As a backpacker, you are most likely on a budget, Hostel World recommends street food to save time and really immerse yourself in the South East Asian lifestyle. It is all home-cooked so you can be sure you are eating some of the most authentic food in the city!
3 Party...But Not Too Much
As a backpacker, you may love to party on the cheap! This is easy to do in SEA as there is a party happening everywhere and you can get cheap drinks. You want to live every day like it's your last so what is the point of being hungover and bed-ridden when there's so much to do?
2 Have An Open Mind
The second most common mistake that backpackers make when traveling to South-East Asia is to have a closed mind. If you have a closed mind, you won't get anywhere, especially in SEA where there is so much to see and do, you simply cannot afford any lost time.
1 Travel Insurance Is A Must
The number one mistake made by backpackers is to opt out of travel insurance, and frankly, this is the number one requirement of any traveling, let alone to SEA. Bad things do happen, especially in SEA, so it is reassuring to have insurance there are some very good reasons to purchase it.