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Nako home stay

9 rookie backpacker mistakes and fixes

Each of us may have had to face one of these rookie instances during the initial days of backpacking. And like the saying goes, ‘there’s always something to learn from mistakes’. Here’s a small list of these ‘mistakes’ to probably avoid while backpacking. And there are a few fixes for those instances, if you find yourself in one of the situations mentioned below.

Down town Tawang

A photo helps to capture and remember glimpses of the places we’ve visited. But sometimes, we tend to forget the potential risk of taking such photos, especially during hikes, treks or any adventure sport-related activities. After all, it’s just a photo, and nothing is worth more important than your safety. Also, we tend to be insensitive to locals, taking their photographs without consent. While most locals may not be bothered by this, a few may take offense. It’s just mannerly to ask for permissions before taking someone’s photo.

2. Not keeping your valuables safe

Bomdila home stay

You need to be really careful while backpacking. Loss of your money or valuables like important documents, IDs, can spell disaster to your trip. One tip is to always carry sufficient money in hand all the time (if in case there are no functional ATMs in the areas you are visiting). And it’s also good to split your money in parts and keeping them safely in your backpack/wallet/pouches. You can also invest in an anti-theft hidden wallet or a secret wallet to keep your belongings safe.

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3. Overpacking clothes is a rookie mistake

Streets of Sri Lanka

Packing wisely for your trip may be one of the most important things to do. Backpacking involves roaming around with backpacks a lot. And if you tend to pack in a lot of extra clothing, you might end up with a heavy backpack, that may deter the overall experience of your trip. One of the ways to pack lightly is to know what kind of weather you might expect during your trip, and then pack clothes accordingly. Also, light-weighted and quick-drying cotton clothing may be a good choice of clothing.

4. Wearing new/unsuitable footwear


Shoe bites can leave you in bad shape, with blisters and injuries. This often happens when you wear the wrong kind of footwear or a newly brought footwear that you haven’t used for your trip. Backpacking will involve a lot of walking around, and it is best if you test out your footwear a couple of weeks before your trip, so that you are accustomed to them. And if in case, you find yourself wearing the wrong kind of footwear, your best bet would be to keep a spare athletic shoes in your backpack for emergency cases.

5. Not carrying the right kind of backpack

Sri Lanka backpacking

Like footwear, you need to give a lot of importance to the kind of backpack you will be using for the trip. It needs to be durable, sturdy and spacious enough to fit in all your essentials but at the same time compact enough to carry around. Yes, there are a lot of expectations from your backpack, but it is completely crucial to take your time in choosing the right backpack for you. Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes for a backpack, once your trip has begun. But in extreme cases, purchasing a new one can be a good alternative.

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6. Forgetting some important items back home

Sri Lanka map reading

Making a small checklist of things you need to carry for your trip will help you organize your backpack and not miss out some essentials. Forgetting a few important items during your trip may completely hamper your trip. And if you ever do find yourself forgetting something, you can always purchase a new one at the place you’re visiting, or you can share a few things with your co-travellers.

7. Not carrying quick-fix items for mending stuff during the trip

Village Road mirissa

Even if you’ve planned your trip and supplies wisely and well in advance, mishaps do happen unexpectedly. Carrying a multi-tool kit, sewing supplies or some adhesive may at least help you in temporarily fixing things till you can find a solution to it. Even random supplies like ropes, plastic bags, silica gel packets, etc can help you whenever needed. These supplies often come handy if your backpacking trip involves camping in the woods. You also learn how to make things work with whatever supplies you have.

In continuation to the above-mentioned items, carrying lighters for campfires, bug propellants to avoid insect bites, sunscreen/moisturizers for skincare, emergency medications and a few toilet paper rolls, are some essentials that are better to be carried during your backpacking trip for instances when they are required.

8. Not carrying warm clothes/blankets as the outdoors get cold at nights

Young Lamas from Tawang gompa

Although not very essential for backpacking in urban areas, most rural areas tend to get quite cold at nights, even during the warmer seasons. Carrying blanket or body warmer can help you tolerate cold nights during your trip, especially for the ones camping outdoors. And you are better off not falling sick during your trip.

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9. Not carrying sufficient food/water

Maggie at Langza

You need to have at least one or two bottles of water with you. And few high-calorie snacks will also help you from staying hungry for long durations. These are quite essential if you’re exploring areas which you are not sure may have enough food and water supplies. It would be a bummer to cut short your adventure due to lack of supplies, so it’s always better to be stocked up on those supplies. There are also these handy water bottle purifiers you can carry if you are headed for a long trek and are not sure how much water you’d need to carry.

So, this is our list of a few rookie mistakes that often happen to new backpackers. Add your mistakes and fixes in the comments below and share with us your travel stories. Happy backpacking!

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