5 Tips for Backpacking with a Family

Backpacking with a family is a wonderful way to get the whole family outdoors and enjoying the fresh clean air as you traverse through deep forests, mountain ranges or interconnecting countries like in Europe. Kids who grow up in the outdoors are better appreciative of nature in all its wonder and of all the fun exploits that can be had with just a backpack, a good pair of boots and the thirst for adventure. Backpacking with family doesn’t have to be hard or difficult; it can be as easy as you let it be with just a few important tips to keep in mind.

Tip #1: Take Only What You Need

Because a large portion of the weight is going to be on your back as the parent, you should only take the absolute necessities: a few changes of all-weather clothing, food and water for the length of the trip, cookware if applicable, a first-aid kit, etc. if you are going to be backpacking in more developed or populated areas in Europe or Asia of course you are going to need other items such as passports, money, identification phones, etc.

Tip #2: Kids Should Wear a Daypack and Only Carry Lightweight Items

For children under about 10 years old they should wear daypacks and have less than 5-10% of their bodyweight carried within the pack. A child of 50 pounds shouldn’t be carrying a 10 pound daypack; it will slow them down and create possible problems with backaches, strains and imbalance.

Tip #3: Make Sure to Buy Modern Lightweight Gear that Fits the Kids

Gear that is an improper fit for a child can cause chafing or strains on the child when the gear sits in the wrong position on the child’s back. So make sure to buy gear that fits and to test the gear with the appropriate amount of weight before going on the backpacking trip.

Tip #4: Make the Trip as Eventful and Varied as Possible

It’s in their nature for children to get bored easily, so planning a backpacking trip with the family that has eventful destinations or sights can help to keep them entertained throughout the trip. For backpacking through nature, incorporate lakes, rivers, waterfalls, hot springs and so on as kids always love water. For backpacking trips in more developed or populated areas, incorporate sights and destinations that will entertain them such as family beaches, interesting historical castles or military forts, etc.

Tip #5: Be Flexible with the Schedule or Plan

Backpacking with your family can be fun, but kids can get tired more easily than adults so be flexible with the schedule. If you hiked for the last hour and the kids are tired, take a short break for a yummy treat like nuts or granola to get their energy up once again. Backpacking with kids needs to be flexible or it will never work, so keep in mind that you may not be able to follow the plan or schedule to the letter.


Best Places in the World to Backpack

Backpacking is a common activity for people who have just left school or university and want to see the world. This means that a lot of people go to all different places to experience the culture and gain some valuable life experience. This also means that there are numerous places that are recommended to visit while backpacking. Some of the best places in the world to visit are Europe and South-east Asia. These are great destinations for several different reasons as each has unique pros and cons that make them amazing places to visit.


There are so many countries so close together in Europe with unique cultures that it is one of the best places to backpack through. There are a few things you should consider before traveling through Europe.

The cost of visiting Europe while not expensive, it is not the cheapest other major destination I will show you. Prices can range from the very low to over 600 dollars for a couple of days including food, accommodation and transport. This means you can get a great deal in some countries but in places like France and Italy it can be quite expensive.

Travel between European countries is quite easy because it is a popular travel destination. Plane flights are very cheap between countries so this should not drain expenses. There are also trains and buses that will allow you to travel between these countries.

Sight seeing
There are numerous sites across Europe that you can visit, including the Eiffel tower, the Colosseum and many other historical landmarks that are famous throughout the world. You may also want to see other things like villages and even the Swiss mountains. There are a lot of sights all over Europe that can be seen.

Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is extremely cheap for when it comes to food especially if you eat local as you can spend around a dollar or two a day. Accommodation is also low priced averaging across south east Asian countries at around $10 a night, the highest been no more than $15. It is also cheap for transport and just about everything else you do in these countries.

Backpacking has grown in popularity throughout the South East Asian countries like Thailand, Cambodia and Laos meaning that you can find buses everywhere. This makes moving to destinations and tourist spots extremely easy.

Sight seeing
There are numerous tourist sites in the South-east Asian Countries; Angkor Wat is a great example of this as it is a main tourist location. Kuala Lumpur Is another great sight as the city is beautiful with a very modern look. These are just some of the amazing sites you can see as a backpacker in South-

East Asia

When backpacking in these places you should keep in mind several factors to see how much they will affect you and your plans. Europe and Southeast Asia are both great places to visit for different reasons so before leaving you should consider what you are going to do on your trip so you can see what country best suits these needs.

My Packing Strategy for both Short and Long-term Trips

That’s not me or anyone I know. Also, I think their packs are way too big. I am a somewhat unusual backpacker in that I don’t actually travel with a rucksack. Instead, I use a combination of two smaller bags. I have been traveling like this for the past two years.

In this post, I will explain both why and how I do this.

For starters, you don’t need that many things when you travel. A few sets of clothes, a camera, some reading material, and some toiletry basics. That’s pretty much it. I generally do laundry (hand washing) every couple of days and while some may consider that an inconvenience, it only takes me fifteen minutes or so, and I much prefer this to having a gigantic load to do after a couple of weeks. I also travel with a laptop (currently a macbook air), which doesn’t take up a lot of space. Thus, I can use extra room in my laptop bag for more clothes if needed.

My setup consists of a laptop bag and a regular school backpack. Obviously, this backpack is considerably smaller than a rucksack and you are limited with how many things you can put in it. I have always been able to make it work, however. The advantages are clear, I think. For one, you don’t have a lot of weight on your shoulders. Secondly, you don’t have to worry about checking any bags, which saves you money and avoids the possibility that your bags will be lost. Finally, having this setup greatly contributes to a certain freedom of movement. I never feel burdened when I am traveling in such a light manner.

How do I fit everything in? It’s actually easier than you think. Like I said above, you generally need much less than you think, even if you are traveling to developing world countries. If worse comes to worse, you can always buy things once you get there – and yes, you will be able to find just about everything (if you have super specific medicines or prescriptions then you might want to get those at home, but otherwise fear not).

When it comes to clothes, I use the roll as tight as possible method. Generally, this leaves your clothes free of wrinkles and it allows you to compress them to almost nothing. Seriously, try this out if you haven’t before – this strategy alone is what allows me to pack like this.

Finally, I tie on a few things to my bag, or I wear several different layers of clothes when I board the plane if things get really tight. Please share your own packing tips and strategies in the comments below. I am by no means an authority on this. Also, feel free to try and convince me as to why I should be using a rucksack. I’d be curious to hear your argument.

Planning your Backpacking Trip

Backpacking trips, especially to Europe or some other foreign country, generally offer breathtaking experiences and amazing adventures. If you are thinking of going on your first backpacking trip overseas, there are certain things that you should consider beforehand. Read on to find out more.

Adventure trips are always intriguing and exciting, but you can only get this experience with safe planning. As a beginner, you should know about the different backpacking supplies, gears, equipment and essentials. It’s very important to learn how to use the different equipment and test everything before leaving on your trip.

Backpacking Trip – What beginners should consider beforehand

First and foremost, you need to find an exciting backpacking destination for your trip. Ensure that you do a thorough research to know about your chosen destination in terms of the weather conditions, language, culture and more. Try to get as much general information as you can because this will come in handy when planning for the trip.

The next step is to pack all the essential items. The following are some of important items that you will need for your little adventure.

– A good traveling bag that can hold all your clothing and essential items.
– Get all the necessary documents to travel overseas.
– Travel with your medical information. If you have special conditions or any allergies, this information must be documented and placed in a wallet/purse or on a bracelet.
– Ensure that you have an updated map. The last thing you want is to plan your backpacking trip for an area that was recently transformed to a shopping mall.
– Get comfortable clothing and footwear; only travel with the bare essentials, such as hat, headband, jacket etc.
– Other items include a money belt, lightweight towels, first aid kit, toiletries, camera, torch, water bottles and more.

After packing, you should let family members know about your travel plans including the destination. This is very important, because you want to know that they can find you if something happen.

You should also have a back-up plan for unexpected events such as bad weather conditions. Having an alternative plan will ensure that your trip is not totally ruined. While making your travel plans, its best to choose a period when you are more likely to have decent weather conditions. As you can imagine, backpacking overseas when there is a hurricane is no fun at all.

Keep these suggestions in mind before leaving on your first backpacking adventure. Research, good planning and proper execution can help you to have to memorable and exciting trip. Remember to test and pack all your backpacking gear and equipment. Have a safe trip as you go backpacking in foreign land!

Backpacking can Change your Life

Backpackers often have a certain glow to them when they get back from a trip, and it’s not just the tan that they are most likely sporting. They have a pep to their step and they seem more relaxed, more enthusiastic, but also more at ease. That’s because there is a good chance they just experienced a life changing trip.

A trip can do things that normal life can’t accomplish in multiple decades. It can accelerate growth and inspire positive change and reflection. It can open up new perspectives and it can shine a light on new opportunities that you might not have seen otherwise. But why backpacking specifically? Why not any kind of vacation?

The answer to that lies in the nature of backpacking. There is one mode of travel that involves stays in nice hotels, organized group or individual tours, and a tightly regimented itinerary. This might be exactly the kind of trip you need, depending on your personality and depending on what is going on in your life. But that is not really a backpacking type of trip and it likely won’t produce the kind of unforgettable memories and significant positive change that I mentioned in the earlier paragraphs.

If you are backpacking, you are likely spending less money on accommodation and food. You are either going to be lodging in hostels with other travelers, staying at local guesthouses, couchsurfing, camping, or perhaps even volunteering. When it comes to dining, you will most likely eat how the locals do — trying different street foods and interacting with the people that live in your destination. All of this is to say that you will be more in touch with your destination.

Backpacking is also inherently individualistic. You may have a guidebook, but you probably don’t have a tight itinerary that you must stick to, and you will probably be more open to spontaneous and random experiences. This is arguably where the most positive things can start happening. Unplanned encounters are often the most memorable because we find ourselves very much in the moment when they happen. If you know what’s going on to happen on your trip before you leave, don’t expect too much of the experience. You may enjoy yourself and you may find a break from your daily routine, but you are unlikely to find transformational change.

There is no right or wrong way to travel. I’m not going to sit here and say that you must take a backpacking trip rather than do something more conventional. No, you have to make that decision for yourself. I hope that I have made a sufficient case, however, for the possible benefits that come with this mode of travel. Feel free to add any thoughts that you may have in the comments section below.

How to minimize accommodations portions

Traveling is a wonderful way to see the world, jumping from country to country as you experience other cultures, sample different ethnic cuisines and really just get to know yourself as well as the world around you. But, the accommodations portion of traveling can be expensive and if you choose to travel for a longer period of time than just a short one or two week vacation, it can be even more expensive. So how do you cut down the expense of having a place to lay your head at night while still traveling the world?

There are a number of options available depending on what you are willing to do in exchange for free housing and where you are going. Below you’ll find the three biggest ways to travel the world without paying for accommodation.


There are several couchsurfing networks all over the world that have organized together a way for people who are traveling to connect with people who are willing to let others stay on their couches or in their spare bedrooms for absolutely free. You might wonder why people are willing to do it for free and the simple answer is that it isn’t just about giving you a place to lay your head at night; it is about meeting new people and exploring new adventurous opportunities that you can bring to them as a couchsurfer. The biggest networks found online for finding free couchsurfing accommodations are the CouchSurfing network, Servas and Global Freeloaders.

House Sitting

For those who are willing to take care of someone’s home while they are traveling, house sitting just might be the way to travel and still keep expenses low. There usually is a bit of a process to being approved for a house sitting opportunity so it isn’t an option that can be chosen in the spur of the moment, but for those who are willing to plan ahead, house sitting offers free traveling accommodations that can take you all over the world. There are a number of house sitting networks such as House Carers, Mind My House and Trusted Housesitters.

Work/Accommodation Exchange

For some people traveling isn’t just about seeing the sights, but about finding out about new cultures, staying with interesting people and living a life completely different than their own. If you are one of those people, a work/accommodation exchange just might be exactly what you are looking for. In a work/accommodation exchange program you can travel the world and work at interesting places like organic farms, sea fairing boat/cruises, bed & breakfasts, hunting lodges and more. To find out more about what is available and where, check HelpX, WorkAway, Organic Volunteers and WWOOF.


Safety Basics for Backpackers

The following is a guest post offering some basic safety tips that you can use when on the road.

Backpacking is very popular among the travelers of all ages. It is an ideal way to travel as it provides an adventurous journey to while saving money. Normally, backpackers like to travel frequently and they do not like to stay in expensive hotels or other costly lodging. So they prefer staying at camps and hostels, or sometimes staying for free with a service like Couchsurfing. Therefore, they need to think a lot about their health and safety, in order to enjoy their journey.

It is a must to plan your journey well in advance of your departure date. You can read a travel guide about the place that you are going to visit and plenty of information can be obtained from the Internet. If you know someone who has followed the same route, then you can talk directly with that person. You can also crowd source information from social media sources like facebook and twitter.

It’s not a bad idea to take a mobile phone with you and an extra battery (or buy them while you are at your destination). If it is a prepaid connection, make sure you have enough phone cards with you and check whether the area you are traveling is covered by your mobile network. Backpackers are advised to take at least two credit cards along with them. If you lose your belongings by any chance, you can use the other one, so keep a one in your wallet and the other one hidden in a money belt or secret pocket.

Before you leave, make sure that your travel insurance is up to date and have an emergency contact number to claim insurance. Do not take any valuable jewelry or watches along with you. However, feel free to take a cheap and reliable watch.

You should have a good torch and a high-pitched alarm along with you to use in case of an emergency. The torch should not be a very heavy one, but it should have a bright solid light. It is very important to take some essential medicine and plasters in your bag. The medicine and brand names differ from country to country, so it is best if you can bring them from home.

When you are traveling it is a good idea to avoid night travel as much as possible. This is when car accidents are most frequent. If you are traveling in an exceptionally remote area, make sure you have a backup plan if there is an emergency. If possible, accompany other travelers who may be taking the same route. Drink plenty of water when traveling and make sure to keep some extra bottles of water in your bag.

The most important thing when it comes to safety while backpacking is to stay aware of what is going on around you. This becomes essential when you are in a crowded place. Keep an eye on your belongings and take care in order to enjoy your journey to the maximum.

Introduction to Backpacking

Your treadmill tells you that you’ve maintained a steady pace of three miles per hour at a moderate incline for four miles. At that rate you’ll only have to walk an hour and a half in the morning and an hour and a half in the afternoon to make your eight mile quota for each day on the backpacking trip. By that logic, the trail should be a breeze, right?

Four miles on a treadmill is like one mile on a track, and one mile on a track is like half a mile on an easy trail. To propel your body forward takes more energy than just moving your legs back and forth on a treadmill. Tracks are flat and smooth, but even the easiest trails are crooked, uneven, and covered with indentions and roots. Treadmills are good for burning calories, but should not be used to judge how well prepared you are for the trails. Also, your body is accustomed to walking with your own body weight, not with a backpack. Once you include the additional weight, your feet will be ready to give out within the first two miles or so. The uneven terrain will wear down your ankles, the inclines will tire your legs and the declines will stress the muscles and cause fatigue. But there are ways to avoid these discomforting setbacks to more thoroughly enjoy the trail.

First, you need to get out and exercise. If you’ve been looking to shed a few pounds, now is the time to do it. If you lose five pounds before a backpacking trip, that’s like hiking without carrying a quarter of your gear. And since the key to comfortable backpacking is to travel light, start with your own body. Besides, didn’t you say you would do that when you made your New Year’s resolution anyway? You don’t have to go on some extreme diet and workout program, but substituting that second cold drink for a glass of water and spending a little more time on the track will help.

Now you’re ready for the real conditioning. Start by visiting your nearest high school track. Walk a lap on the track to warm up your legs, then hit the bleachers. Walk from the bottom to the top and back down again at a comfortable, even pace. Repeat the climb about two or three times before returning to the track for another lap. After walking a second lap, go back to the bleachers for more climbing. Continue to alternate between bleachers and track until you’ve worked up a good sweat. Don’t burn yourself out, but don’t go easy on yourself either. The key is to keep moving, alternating between horizontal walking and vertical climbs and descents. It keeps your legs guessing, and since that’s what will happen on the trail, this is one of the best workouts.

The next time you visit the track (two days later) bring your pack with you. You don’t have to load up all your gear, but you should simulate the weight by placing about six liters of water in the main compartment. Adjust the straps (see Preparing III: Packing amp; Consumables below for proper strap adjustment) and repeat the above workout. The extra load will put pressure on your feet while walking the track, but you’ll really feel the workout when you climb the bleachers.

It’s a little known fact that more damage is done to the thigh muscles while walking downhill than uphill. This is because the tension increases as the muscles extends rather than when it contracts. Since the muscles are working in the opposite manner that they were designed, it damages the muscle more. Although it takes less energy to walk downhill, you’ll feel more soreness in the morning. Regular trips to the bleachers will toughen your legs and they’ll become accustomed to walking downhill while carrying the additional weight. The end result will be a sturdy pair of legs ready to tackle any hill in the afternoon and will be ready to walk again the next morning.

Another problem people often come across is blisters. And the one thing you can’t hike without is your feet. No part of your body will take more punishment and likewise, no part of your body should be more taken care of. Buy thick, comfortable socks and well fitting boots to start with. After that, walk in them to form the boots to your feet. Pay careful attention to your feet as you walk and feel for any warm spots (early symptoms of a forming blister) or soreness. If part of your feet feels raw or a blister begins to form, remember its location. This is a trouble area that must be dealt with BEFORE you decide to tackle a multi-day hike. If a blister forms, quit walking for the day and apply a bandage. Do NOT use any kind of lotion that will soften the skin. Allow a callous to form, as this will help prevent future blisters. Another way to promote callous growth is to locate troublesome spots and then apply a dose of wart-remover once per day for three days. This will kill the skin but it’s not enough for it to flake off. Instead, you’ll develop an even layer of tough skin where blisters used to form.

Before a long hike, any troublesome spots that you still have can be doctored in such a way that nearly eliminates the chance of blistering. Apply a bandage to suspect spots prior to the hike. Keep your socks dry and always wear liners. And if a warm spot develops, stop where you are and apply a moleskin to the area. If you don’t have a moleskin, use duct tape. A patch of duct tape can remain over a hot spot for several days, preventing the blister from forming while you complete your hike. Just be sure you tape your foot BEFORE the blister forms. Removing tape from an already developed blister is a painful idea. If you don’t catch the blister in time and it develops, lance it, cover it with a bandage, tape the bandage in place and just march forward and try not to think about it. Pain killers work great for this.

The most common type of conditioning that people overlook is hydration and caloric intake. We’ve been programmed to drink energy drinks whenever we’re outside and to only eat low-cal, low-fat, low-carb foods. This is great for a relaxing lifestyle, but for the strenuous nature of the trail, you need a bit more. First off, forget about energy drinks. They provide salts and sugars that are too processed to get into your system in a timely manner and not nearly enough water. And when you lugging around a back and walking for the better part of the day, for several days, low-calorie diets can become your worst enemy. If it’s good for you at home, it’s bad for the trail.

If you’re sweating all day, you need lots of water and lots of salt. Think pretzels, chips, Combos and crackers. Junk food is best. Bulk up and hydrate before the trail. Two days before I go on a multi-day backpacking trip, I start eating and drinking like crazy. I’ll nearly double my caloric intake and guzzle a gallon of water per day. And the night before you set out, hit a buffet or order pizza. Pack on a little extra fat and lots of water weight. Drink a half liter of water just before hitting the trail and grab a big breakfast. The extra water that your body stores will help prevent dehydration and will reduce the amount of water you drink on that first day, allowing you to cover more ground. Don’t worry about the weight, I promise that you’ll lose it. I once consumed 7,000 calories and 3 liters of water in 24 hours while backpacking and still lost 2 inches off my waist. My pants still don’t fit.

With all the food you’re taking in, you’re setting yourself up for a major inconvenience. While on the trail, restrooms come in the shape of a large tree or a small thicket. You really don’t want to squat behind one of these in the middle of the forest, but you usually don’t have a choice. So here’s how to lessen the possibility of that. Two days before the hike, take a laxative and clean yourself out. Use the bathroom every chance you get and be sure to go just before you start the hike. When you’re in the woods, your body naturally slows things down and it is possible that you won’t have to go while you’re out there and if you take this advice, you should be fine. And if anything in this paragraph seems disgusting or offensive, you have no business being in the woods in the first place.

Backpacking with Kids

As some of you may know, we like to dabble in the occult. I mean, outdoors. Camping, cycling, rappelling, backpacking; it’s all in the name of fun. We’d told the kids if they had good grades we’d let them play hooky for a day and do something fun. This…. is what they wanted to do.
It was my youngest son’s (Alex) 8th birthday on Monday and it was just after Easter weekend. I would like to say that my delicate nature made me rebel against going; but I was just as excited as the boys about it. We’d just gotten a new backpack tent and I was eager to try it out. So we got all geared up and headed out into the wilderness, the feral unknown, the mystical reaches of forest and woods…

Alright, we just went to Pyramid State Park. It’s about 15 minutes or so from us and embarked on a 4 mile hike in. We kept it short because of the soon-to-be 8 year old, but he did really great. Even our chocolate lab Shady came with us (We need him to protect us from the cow-yo-tees, Alex said) and he even has his own backpack. No one gets away with not pulling their weight!

Apparently, we weren’t too wilderness as my cell phone had a signal. I know this because we had five phone calls that night. Luke (Alex’s 10yr old brother) and Alex went just to the lake’s edge to enjoy nature. At some point of looking at frogs and trying to filter water by the small lakeshore, Alex fell in the water. He claimed his older brother pushed him. I was too busy trying to stay warm to see.

It was fairly shallow, but the cold weather, coupled with the water, meant we had to get him out of those wet clothes. Fortunately he had extra pants, but the boots/socks were soaked. My down booties were the solution. Man, I love those booties and I was greatly looking forward to enjoying them by the fire. Fortunately, Dad had already started a fire in anticipation of dinner.

What we didn’t anticipate was the sight of pants and boots roasting. He angled and turned them appropriately (with tongs and everything) but I guess his “clothes” cooking skills aren’t what he had hoped they were. The hike out the next day had Alex in some charred pants and slightly melted boots. Oh well, at least he didn’t burn the steak kabobs!

Choosing a Hiking Backpack; A Beginner’s Guide

When hiking fever catches hold of you and hiking becomes more than a casual walk on a nearby trail, it’s time to find a hiking backpack. It didn’t take me long to figure out that the little knapsack I was using wasn’t going to cut it for a lengthy day hike, much less an overnight adventure. There are some general guidelines that will make it a little easier to choose the right hiking backpack for you.
Buy quality

First, you have to consider the quality of the backpack. It’s tempting to settle for the least expensive backpack, but you may end up regretting it in the long run. A hiking backpack holds important, even energy and life sustaining essentials, when you are on a long hike. You need a backpack that will stand up to the wear of being stuffed to the brim for long hikes, tossed on the ground, and tugged off and on your back. You may be able to find an inexpensive hiking backpack, but don’t settle for a cheap one.

Size matters

Depending on the length of your hikes, the size of your hiking backpack matters. A smaller pack is fine if you never intend to use it for overnight hikes. However, if you prefer versatility you may want to find the smallest bag that will carry your hiking and camping gear, which includes everything from food and water to your sleeping mat or bag.

Try on a variety of backpacks to find one that fits your frame size. Using a backpack with an adjustable frame, or one that fits you sitting comfortably just below your first vertebra. It should also feel stable. Load it up if you have to and give it a try in the store.

Structure and design

There are so many hiking backpacks from which to choose it can become an overwhelming task. Pick out two or three that are made of high quality then take time to look at the details of how the backpack is made.

Look for a backpack has adjustable, comfortable straps that are padded. Are there easy access mesh pockets inside and out? How does the backpack hold water? There may be water bottle pockets or places to store water sterilizer, but for a long hike you will want a storage pocket for a water bladder. In the words of a hiker you are looking for a hydration compatible backpack.

Find out how easy it is to access different compartments of the backpack. It should be easy enough to get into while hiking, but secure enough not to fall open and lose the contents. Take a look at zippers and plastic fasteners, and drawstrings. Are they secure, yet easy to access? Do they appear durable?

Perks for dedicated hikers

Serious backpackers may also be climbers. They need somewhere to store tools that so that they will not be hurt by them and the backpack will not be torn. Often this comes in the forms of hooks and loops on the outside of the backpack. Those who will be hiking trails that become too difficult for using a hiking pole may want a place to strap the pole to their backpack. The ideal backpack will help keep you from having to carry any extras, keeping your hands free.

Make sure the backpack has enough pockets and dividers for all of the hiking paraphernalia and camping paraphernalia you may need to carry for a weekend hike.

There are so many backpacks to choose from, it shouldn’t be difficult to find one that is designed just for you. Spring is a good time to buy hiking backpacks on sale. A good average price for a durable, high quality backpack for day or weekend hikes will usually cost around one hundred dollars.