Backpackers

3 people hiking on the Great West Trail, Canada. © Darryl Leniuk/Getty Images

More and more travellers of all ages are setting off to explore the world independently.

Whether you are travelling around Western Europe by train or backpacking through the jungles of East Asia our advice will help to keep you safe.

See our Travel Checklist for some general advice and check our Travel Advice for the countries you plan to visit.

And if you are backpacking as part of your gap year, check out the Go Gap Year! website.

Stay safe and trouble-free:

  • get a good guidebook and plan your journey
  • ask friends who have travelled for advice
  • you’ll be most vulnerable when you first arrive, so book accommodation in advance for your first night away
  • if you go out at night, make sure you know how to get back to your accommodation - many hotels and hostels can give you cards that show you how to get back
  • obey and respect the local laws - we can’t get you out of prison if you’re arrested abroad
  • respect local customs and dress codes – you may cause offence and stand out as a tourist (and target) for thieves
  • only change money in banks or legal foreign exchange bureaus – you don’t want to be given fake currency
    keep a receipt of all money exchanges
  • be very cautious about hitchhiking, especially at night - always travel in pairs and be aware that drivers may expect payment
  • take a first aid kit, especially if you are travelling to remote areas
  • send important information to your web-based email account for easy access

Drugs and alcohol

  • be aware of local attitudes to alcohol and drink sensibly
  • remember your insurance policy is unlikely to cover you for drunken accidents!
  • don’t ever try to drink alcohol or import it into a country where laws don’t allow it - you could face severe penalties
  • don’t get involved with illegal drugs abroad - the penalties may be severe and your insurance will not cover you for illness
  • never carry packages through customs for other people, even if you have befriended them during your trip
  • don’t travel across boarders in other people’s vehicles or lend your vehicle to someone else
  • always pack your own baggage and never leave it unattended

Visas and passports

  • make sure you’ve got the correct work permits if you’re planning to work whilst travelling - you could face severe penalties or deportation if you work illegally
  • don’t overstay your visa - it could lead to a fine or prison. You can extend your visa in most places 

See Also

Drugs

Travel health

Travel insurance

Winter, water and extreme sports

Useful Links

Go Gap Year! - our fun site dedicated to everything gap year related

Related Documents

Travel Checklist

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Everything you need for a great trip abroad!

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Find an Embassy

Wherever you are in the world

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