If you would like to see the world but have a limited budget or you just fancy the experience then backpacking can be fun and rewarding. However, you have to be adequately prepared and take extra care of your safety and health to ensure a hassle-free and enjoyable trip. Needless to say, you must be in a physically fit condition and ready to ‘rough-it-out’.

The following tips must be read in conjunction with Safety and Health Guides and Religious and Cultural Sensitivities. If you are lady traveller, also see Woman Travellers. They are additional and special pointers for backpackers doing it single or in small numbers.

Before you go
Tips on preparations
  • Do homework on destination country
    • General level of security standards - crime rate, safeguarding measures and law enforcements
    • Note issues relating to infrastructural facilities, travel safety and helpfulness of locals
    • Learn about local religious and cultural sensitivities and etiquettes as you would need to interact quite closely with locals
    • In conservative societies, find out what is/are offensive
  • Check out the experiences of other backpackers
  • Seek information and advice from specialised guide books for backpackers. These websites and may be useful
  • General advice if you are travelling alone
    • Do not hitchhike, there are few places left in this world that is safe to do so
    • Avoid remote areas unless you know the customs and culture of the locals well, certain the place is very safe and know how to keep yourself from illness and accidents
    • Exclude criminally notorious and other high risk areas from your itinerary
    • Plan to arrive at places in daylight if possible, avoid late hours
    • Book your accommodation in advance, so that you are assured of a safe place to stay. Last minute bookings are also more expensive
    • Book your transfer tickets in advance, so that you can keep to plans
    • Be prudent in decisions that may effect on your health or risk of injury for eg. avoid going during periods of bad weather, political unrest, existing/potential health and other hazards
  • Take extra precautions
    • Select accommodation in a reputed safe place within a good neighbourhood, its worth allocating a higher budget for this
    • Travel light so that your baggage do not require too much effort and you can pay more to your surroundings, safety measures and keeping yourself fit
    • Bring along a portable inside locking device, you can look into a travel supplier for one
On the go
Important things to do and remember
  • Try to avoid hitchhiking
  • Accept offer of lifts from people who you know or have some assurance of safety from the driver, other passengers or the vehicle itself !
  • Ensure the mode of public transport - motorised vehicles, beast (donkeys, horses etc.) or others are road worthy and can deliver you safely to your destination.
  • Weigh if risks of poor safety standards (eg. riding a motorbike without helmet) is worth taking.
  • Be mindful if actions of risk (as in above) contradicts your insurance policy rules
  • Do not engage in risky activities without professional guidance, avoid injuries at all cost
  • Exercise prudence in all decision-making regarding manner of doing things which may compromise your health, physical fitness and safety. For example, avoid getting wet, slip and fall on slippery grounds when it rains.
  • Dress sensibly in general and conservatively in places where locals are known to be religious and sensitive especially if you are female. See Religious and Cultural Sensitivities
  • If you face situations of danger (including potential), remove yourself as quickly as possible. Look for help especially if there is a nearby police officer when things get serious.
  • Keep your room door tightly locked. A portable inside-locking device will be useful.
  • Meet visitors in a common areas and not your room
  • It is important to note that robbery and assaults including sexual ones can happen to anybody irrespective of gender and age in anywhere, so exercise prudence in all matters relating to personal security
When help is needed
See Safety Guide
  • If you became a victim of assault, seek police, medical and legal assistance.
If you are sexually assaulted, do not blame yourself. Try to find someone you know or can trust if possible. You need to make decisions that are right for yourself during this difficult time, emotional support and sound advice will be of great help.

Seek professional counselling from one you can feel comfortable with. It would be useful to add contact details of available counselling centres to your list of important contact numbers, addresses and internet access before you leave home.

The information and advise are intended to be a general guide for travellers only. While every care has been taken to prepare the information and make recommendations or suggestions, neither the publisher of nor its management or staff are responsible for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained therein.
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