Thinking about going on your first backpacking trip but are not sure where to go? I understand, it is complicated! But let me just say how jealous I am. Your first backpacking trip will stay with you for life and that fresh feeling of exploration and independence is priceless! So don’t feel stressed because exciting times await you. And to make things a little easier now, I have assembled a list of amazing countries and routes for first time backpackers as well as some important things to consider before you set off.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
Budget – Extremely important! Realistically can you afford to go to Australia or Europe? You will definitely need more money there in comparison to Southeast Asia. However, there are ways to travel on a budget where ever you go. Just make sure you organise a rough budget beforehand to avoid sticky situations!
Time – The longer the better in my opinion! But unfortunately it isn’t always possible to take a 6 month holiday from work (sigh). So when choosing between all the amazing countries and routes for first time backpackers that are out there, think ‘do I have enough time to do this place well?’. I did New York to Montreal in two weeks so that would be an ideal route for people with full time jobs.
Interests – If you love nature consider New Zealand. If you love history consider Europe and so on. I think the chosen countries and routes for first time backpackers make or break the future of backpacking for individuals. So it is pretty important to think about what you will gain from going to certain places! If your interests line up with what a place has to offer then you’re more likely to enjoy it. Also, always you want to get your moneys worth!
Season – This is also extremely important! Southeast Asia in rainy season is never going to be ideal. Nor Europe in winter if you require decent sun/warmth to be happy! So do your research beforehand to make the most of your trip. I backpacked around Morocco in the middle of summer. It was definitely a learning curve as I barely coped with the heat!
AMAZING COUNTRIES AND ROUTES FOR FIRST TIME BACKPACKERS!
NEW YORK TO MONTREAL
This route was my first solo backpacking trip! I started in New York where I spent four-five spectacular days exploring the city. I visited all the major tourist attractions, went clubbing and relaxed in central park with a friend living there. Then, I headed to Toronto via bus, making sure to see the breathtaking beauty of Niagara Falls along the way. My last stop was Montreal which was full of beautiful architecture and so many creperies I thought I was in heaven. I spent nine days in Canada overall. I also couch surfed this entire trip to make it more affordable. It meant I had local recommendations and made friends which made the trip for me!
Ok, you have so many route options here so more research is 100% required! But this is an example route which starts in Amsterdam! Amsterdam has a big international airport so is a great place to start a trip. Also mainland Europe is mainly south of the city so you won’t be doing too much backtracking. The route ends in Barcelona which is another amazing city. The architecture there is incredible (thanks Gaudi) as is the food and nightlife! You’d also be passing through Brussels and Paris. Travelling through Europe is simple. The trains are regular, uncomplicated and usually with English translation making it very easy to backpack! If you want a hostel recommendation for Amsterdam Stayokay Amsterdam Vondelpark is perfect. I made many friends while staying there.
My first ever road trip and I honestly can’t think of anywhere better than New Zealand for first time backpackers. Even the shape of the islands make it perfect for travelling through! In the north you have sand dunes, snorkelling and sun. The south is full of mountains, glaciers and skiing! Then, dotted around you have native jungle, active volcanoes and beautiful national parks. It is very safe and everyone speaks English making it one of the best backpacking destinations for first timers. Most people start in Auckland and head south, finishing in Christchurch.
Southeast Asia is extremely well travelled so another top backpacking destination for first timers. It is also very cheap without compensating on amazing things to see. Like Europe, there are endless potential routes so you’ll need to research into that more! I started in Singapore and then headed to Vietnam and Thailand. It was a short trip, about five weeks in total, but I saw a lot!! I can safely say it was one of my favourite backpacking trips ever and I can’t wait to go back to do the countries I missed.
Last but not least is Australia! I have enlisted my friend Will (from weekendwildlifeblog.co.uk), who did a working holiday there, to tell us why we should head down under to find amazing backpacking routes for first timers. “The fact it is an English speaking country is crazy helpful for first time travellers. It is close to NZ/ Indonesia/ Southeast Asia for more trips. Good intro to extreme sports, surfing is everywhere. Good for road trips. It’s easier to prepare for somewhere pretty consistently hot than somewhere freezing or wet”. So there you go! I think you need a little longer to do Australia justice, maybe even a year if possible but like Will said, they speak English so it’s all good.
Once you have chose your destination you can start to plan (or not plan if that is your style!). Definitely research packing lists for you destination though. There may be something random, specific to that area that you didn’t know you’d need. Also, remember to look into what jabs you will need, if any. And then, hopefully, you should be good to go!! Bon voyage!