Backpacks, and good backpacks in particular, are a great idea, mainly because they are such a darned efficient way to carry things. Although there are other ways to carry those things, of course.You could balance them on your head like some tribes people do in East Africa.Apparently however, this kind of “head porterage” requires years of training. It presumably also makes getting through doorways a bit awkward and would be no good at all for your hair, especially if you have a perm.Or you could carry your stuff around in plastic carrier bags, but they make you look like a tramp.No, backpacks are becoming very popular nowadays, and rightly so because they allow you to keep your hands free and carry lots of things, even heavy things, very comfortably and efficiently.So how in the name of all that’s holy do you go about choosing a good one from all those available on the market? My name is Duncan McLean, I’m an internationally renowned expert in backpacks (a bit of an exaggeration, although I have used one for years which makes me a kind of expert I suppose), and here are some tips for making a wise and informed choice.First of all, what do I mean by “good” backpacks? “Good” here means “good honest, decent value,” i.e. nothing too fancy or overpriced, no cheap rubbish and definitely no rip-off ‘prestigious’ brands.And the type of backpacks I’ll be recommending will be mainly those for teens and adults used for school and general purposes.So, after many minutes of research that essentially consisted of typing the words “good backpacks” into Google, I found a report on the best backpacks for teens and adults from ConsumerSearch.com.I liked the fact that this report chose good value backpacks:”Unlike some other consumer products, paying more won’t necessarily get you a higher-quality pack. In fact, many of the top-rated backpacks are classic styles from JanSport and L.L.Bean that cost less than $50. These simple backpacks score highly for durability, but they don’t feature many of the bells and whistles found on pricier packs (… )”The top 5 are:1. JanSport Big Student2. High Sierra Fat Boy3. The North Face Jester4. The North Face Recon5. JanSport SuperBreakSo there you have it, you now have all the info you need to get in with the backpack crowd. As an ancient Chinese poet* once said,With a backpack on your back,The road ahead becomes clear,And the weight of the worldRests more easily on your shoulders(* actually made up by me)
Since Australia has a developed tourist trail for the thousands of backpackers each year that visit the land down under, making an ideal backpacking experience and exploring the outback is really easy. With a multitude of transport options including trains, planes and automobiles getting around and backpacking in Australia is easy. Knowing which method you use will depend on your budget and your time frame. Read more about getting around and backpacking down under.Travelling by CarIf you are going to be in Australia longer than 3 months then it might be well worth purchasing a car to drive. Due to the large amount of travellers it is pretty easy to pick a car that is being sold off cheaply by another backpacker who wants a quick sale. But remember, Australia is a big country and these cars will have done the rounds and clocked up some mileage. Make sure you check how much the repairs will cost before you buy. Most travellers start and end in Sydney, here is where you will find the most cars and usually the cheaper deals.If you aren’t there a long time but appreciate the freedom a car provides you could always hire one. Car hire is a great alternative and most companies allow one way car hire between cities which means you don’t have to return to the same destination.Travelling by PlaneThough some hardcore backpackers think flying is cheating, if you are limited by time then flying from side of the country to another is well worth it. You can usually book a cheap internal flight with Virgin Blue or Jetstar in advance. Did you know it takes 5 hours to fly from Sydney to Perth? If you were to drive this distance it would take two days and that is without stopping.Tour BusesThere are many bus services that run between cities and across the country. Greyhound is one company that offers routes to most touristic destinations. They are usually cheap and reliable but they don’t offer much flexibility and comfort compared to having your own car. Long journeys also seem to take longer because buses don’t drive as fast, but at least you can sit back and rest. Most buses tend to get booked up quickly so you ought to book in advance to ensure you get a seat.Hitchhiking and Lift SharingIf you are looking for a cheap ride then hitchhiking is always an option. It can be a great way to travel giving you a sense of adventure and freedom. It is also a great way to meet people and learn about Australia, and the best thing is it is normally free. However it is not for everyone and you ought to be careful who you share lifts with, never get inside a car with anyone you feel uncomfortable with. If you plan on hitching a lift, it would be a better idea to travel with other backpackers and share the costs. This way is probably safer than thumbing down a lift from a passing car. You can find other travellers looking for people to travel with to share costs of fuel on a large number of notice boards found in the hostels around the country.Whatever your travel budget and whatever your time-frame you will find a suitable method of transport that best suits you. Backpacking in Australia is a great way to see the country and travelling around is easy. This is one reason why Australia is an ideal location for all types of backpackers.
Although the idea of travelling across the world with nothing but a backpack on your shoulders is a romantic one, it’s not a very practical one if you take it to the extreme. Even if you’re only plan is to do as little planning as possible, before you set off on your travels it’s highly recommended you invest in some travel insurance for backpackers, travel insurance is less of an act of caution and more a case of common sense.Naturally, if you’re just backpacking through the UK, then its somewhat less of a necessity. Once you cross overseas though the story is rather different. Outside of your home country, the safety net that the state has provided you with (even if you don’t know it) disappears – and if you’re a typical adventurous backpacker, you’re likely to be running far more risks than you would do in your day to day life.The simple truth is that in many places around the world, money is the only way you can guarantee anything from health care to travel. Without money, if you get into a jam then you’ll be forced to rely upon a foreign bureaucracy to help you resolve your issues – one that might not speak English, might not care about your problems and might have far too much on their plates to deal with your problems in the first place.This sounds rather alarming but it is pretty straightforward. Part of the adventure of backpacking is the fact that it’s an adventure; distant lands, risky activities and exposure to exotic ways of life are all part and parcel. The chances are without the risk, there wouldn’t be half as much fun in striking out on your own two feet. Still, it pays to be prepared.Just consider the worst that could happen to you whilst you’re on your travels. Not the most enjoyable part but it’s definitely worth doing before you get there and they take you completely unprepared. Without insurance, at best you’ll end up paying far more than any policy could cost in resolving your emergency, and at worst you could be left stranded far from home.With an insurance policy, you can travel with relative peace of mind. If your belongings get stolen, the insurance company can wire you the funds to buy replacements and let you carry on your way. If your passport or travel documents are lost (perhaps in the same act of theft as your backpack), then they can help clear the red-tape and save you all the admin costs. If you fall foul of an exotic illness or something similar, they can help meet the costs of medical care – and even pay for repatriation if you’re taken off the trail entirely. Insurance can even help you cover any legal costs you might incur; strange countries can have strange laws and its very possible you could fall foul of them.Hopefully this hasn’t put you off your travel plans. The vast majority of backpacking holidays go relatively smoothly – but then, most backpackers prepare for the worst. When all of your belongings are on your back and home is half a world away, a little forethought can go a long way in saving a dream experience from becoming a nightmare.