You recently started a website called The Savvy Backpacker. Can you tell us a little more about the site and what inspired you to start it?
The Savvy Backpacker helps future backpackers plan their trip. I don’t focus on specific destinations, but really try to focus on the “unsexy” part of backpacking; for example, budgeting advice, packing tips, how to choose and best utilize trains/planes, travel time management, itinerary planning, hosteling tips, using electronics and a lot more. Basically, my goal is to inform travelers of all the things I wish I would have known before I set off on my European adventure. It gives independent advice to budget travelers while being well designed, user friendly, has tons of great information and isn’t bogged down by a lot of annoying advertising.
When was your first backpacking trip and where did you go?
My first backpacking trip was in the Spring/Summer of 2007. I was studying abroad at the University of Leeds and I took full advantage of their four week vacation. I then went on another two week trip after classes ended.
I ended up going to Ireland (Dublin, Galway, and Killarney), Krawkow, Budapest, Prague, Interlaken, Salzburg, Munich, Bruges, Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris, Glasgow, Edingburgh and London.
Don’t try to see everything because your trip will turn into a blur; allow plenty of time to experience the places you visit.
A lot of novice travelers cram as much as possible into their trip because they want to take full advantage of their time in Europe. I totally understand their thinking, but after a few years of breakneck travel they start to get exhausted and end up forgetting what they’ve seen.
What inspired you to join Tripping?
I love the idea of connecting with locals because it gives you he opportunity to see the real soul of wherever you’re visiting.
What are your top 3 tips for novice backpackers?
Take travel time into consideration when planning. Many backpackers forget how much time it takes to get from one destination to the next with hostel check-outs, walks to the metro station, etc. You can easily eat up a half day doing all this.
Plan ahead (at least a little). Before you leave, spend a few hours planning what you want to do in each city you visit — you’ll save yourself a lot of frustration, time and money. Write down a list (along with directions) of restaurants you would like to eat at, things you want to see, etc.
Travel Solo. Although it might seem a little frightening, traveling solo is great. When you travel alone you can do whatever you want wherever you want to do it.
Travel towel. These towels dry very quickly so you don’t have to worry about musty backpacks.
Good socks. People tend to overlook nice socks. They’re not sexy, but they can make a world of difference.
A digital camera. I am a photo geek, but I think just about every traveler can agree with me on this one.
An iPod Touch (or something similar). This is not essential, but i think it can make an immense difference. It replaces bulky travel guides, makes a laptop obsolete, enables you to find good (and cheap) restaurants easily, as well as a ton of other conveniences.
Keychain flashlight. I’ve mostly stayed in hostels and one thing I wish everyone had was a small flashlight, especially when they come into the room super late. There is always one person who turns on all the lights and wakes up the 10 people in the room.
Where are you planning your next backpacking adventure?
I really want to visit Berlin and St. Petersburg. I would also like to visit more of Eastern Europe.
Want more travel tips? You know where to go. Visit TheSavvyBackpacker.com. Connect with James in Tripping’s new AmeriCorps Alums Network and other fellow backpackers in the Backpackers and Budget Travel Networks!