Whenever someone mentions 'backpacking' my mind conjures up every memory I have of the first time I watched 'Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani'. As a college student, the thrill of sneaking out of lectures just to experience it through the screen was everything. It looked every bit of fun, thrilling, exhilarating, and organized with a hint of recklessness.
Needless to say, the heaviness of travel FOMO (fear of missing out) that hit post this wasn't appreciated one bit. Discussing it with friends in hopes to grow around that feeling wasn't of much help either. We were all rowing the same boat.
So, I did what I reckon every one of you must have at least once if not multiple times - made elaborate plans which I vowed to get back to as soon as I had the resources.
Well, we all know how that must have panned out. Growing older into the reigns of societal commitments, the terrible workload eventually catches up and the corporate life consumes you in every way.
Driving to create a balance between my imposing work-life and nurturing the young wanderlust in me, below are a few pointers that I have gathered over several backpacking trips.
Pick a date (Usually around Long Weekend)
Picking a date that is feasible around your functional work-days, is a crucial bit. Planning well ahead around national holidays that fall a day before or after the weekend is the perfect fit. This proves to be economical in ways where you don't have to miss any imposing office hours and you availing discounted prices! Before settling on a date, the environment and weather are something to be pondered upon. If it's the summer, then you'll want to hit the mountains where it's relatively chilly. This here is the perfect guide to your summer escape.
Pick a destination
Picking a destination isn't something that happens overnight, it is a thorough process. If you already have something on your vision board that you have been putting off for a while, now is the time to turn those into reality.
If not, well here are a few questions you can ask yourself
How far are you planning to go?
The purpose of your trip: leisure/solitude/thrill-seeking/ discovery/ safaris?
Closer to nature or water?
Your budget range.
A budget-friendly trip to the caves with rich, exuberant history pouring through with every turn, may just be the thing you're looking for.
Permit requirements and documents
Some protected or reserved areas, especially certain areas in the northeast require an official permit stating the nature of your travel. Contacting the authorities for one is the next step.
Along with the permit (if required), carrying a valid government-approved document for identification is advisory, carrying an original copy along with a digital copy is preferred.
Invite my friends (Or Commit to going, Solo)
Every backpacking movie is enough testament that trips are always fun with your closest friends. Post deciding on a destination, making group plans is the next step.
But we all know, aligning schedules is tedious in itself. Don't let that stop you from living your experiences. Go solo! Be the main character of your movie! There have been a couple of instances, where I've had to chuck away their cribbing and make the trip myself. The contentment when you have epiphanies about yourself is soul-pleasing in every way. A trip here is the one for you.
Make my transportation plan
An elaborate plan can go a long way. Backpacking trips are such where you can easily lose track of the expenditure, this adds on, even more, when you're with a group, especially in crowded cities like Ajmer. To sit down post a consuming day, desperately trying to recall all the loose change you've spent. This is a horror in itself!
Hence, making a cash map based on the locations to be visited, this being inclusive of all the minor (rickshaw/cab/tonga, etc) travel is an amazing alternative.
Get the necessary gear
It's normal to be perplexed about what to carry if you're a first-time backpacker. Here's a list of the few essentials that I always carry,
light, breezy clothes
hat/ cap, sun protectant
first- aid kit
repair kit, including knife
backpacking tent (if an overnight/ long tri-trek)
altitude and distance can affect your appetite. Dry, lightweight snacks do come in handy in places where the nearest restaurant is miles away.
protein bars to replenish your energy
reusable water bottles
handy prescribed medications for any allergies (dust, climate change, pollen)
Tell my family about my plans
Outlining a detailed itinerary and printing one for your family is the one last necessary step. A day or two before leaving, I sit down with my folks and explain the entire trip to them. Providing them with every bit of trivial information, right from my PNR number to my accommodation. The itinerary already culminating in all the major specifications. Another thing I would suggest is sharing your location with them for the duration of the trip.
As a culture and heritage enthusiast myself, a three-day trip to Chennai and Pondicherry is something I would do all over again.
And finally, go!
After such meticulous planning, get yourself out the door and let yourself free! Find yourself, discover and explore yourself and your surroundings. Once you get over the initial hindrance, the future trips are just going to be flowing in.
And lastly, you ask yourself, what is something this trip needs but hasn't been packed.