Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Backpacking + healthy food + exercise = being able to fit into your old clothes when you get home!

When I first thought of backpacking, I visualised a ton of walking, eating less, and more exercise then I would ever do at home. I thought to myself - 'I'm going to get super fit, there is no reason for me to worry about putting on weight'.

Well I couldn't of thought more wrong! I put on 10kg's in 3 months while exploring Europe, and I had wanted to write a post talking about this particular issue, but I had a few theories to test before I started talking from experience. Now that I am backpacking again, I'm putting a few into play and think I have some good advice for those who might be thinking the same as I was in 2010...

Eat healthy food, but this doesn't mean hold back on experiencing the cultures!
- It will help prevent you from getting sick and fuel your body properly. It can sometimes be a very difficult thing to do when backpacking, but make the most of the local markets and try your best to eat as much fruit, vegetables and meat as you can. If you make some friends in your hostel, share recipes and ask them for advice on how they manage their food. You will get some really good ideas.

Buy a multivitamin (I'm currently using Centrum for the first time)
- This will help with any deficiencies and keep you feeling energetic. Especially if the country you are visiting has food that is nothing like your normal diet. Centrum has improved my skin, and I'm feeling much better.

Drink a hell of a lot of water
- This will help flush out toxins, and of course keep you hydrated. I am making an effort to drink 2 cups of water per meal. Buy a decent sized drink bottle and make sure you drink it dry at least once a day.

Devote 30mins of your travel time for some exercise, at least 3 times a week. 
- Think yoga, jogging, swimming, walking, go to a gym, joining in a local teams practice/training - as long as you are moving continuously for 30mins you will be fine. I am currently using an app on my iPhone called NTC (Nike Training Club). It is a free personal training app, and I am able to do it anywhere, anytime, with a group of people or by myself, even without runners. At the moment I am doing a 30min session in my room every night. I have recommended this app numerous times, and used it while coaching a netball team in 2011, and it is just fantastic.

Use a journal
- This will help keep your mind healthy, and allow you to write down any thoughts or feelings that are better out then in. Especially if you are travelling alone. You can keep track of everything, and it is a great way to jog your memory in the future.

Some backpacker friendly foods to keep an eye out for?
- Fruit on the streets/markets (its cheap!) Make sure it has a removable skin if you can, in case it has not been properly washed of pesticides etc. 
- Fruit/nut muesli or granola. Its fairly light, healthy, can be used as a breakfast cereal or healthy snack and can contour well to fit in a crammed backpack. 
- Dinner rolls. I find buying fresh little dinner rolls from the supermarket make great snacks. They are extremely light to carry, you can get all sorts of flavours (depending on the shop) and they taste soo good! Much more practical then carrying around a loaf of bread, and cheap (should be no more then 40 cents each - the last ones I brought were 25 cents each)
- Fish in cans. If I cant afford good red meat, and have no where to store it to keep it fresh, I turn to tinned tuna or salmon. Its reasonably cheap, tasty, you can get heaps of different flavours and it lasts a lifetime compared to fresh meat. Plus, its really good for you.
- Protein/Energy bars. These can come in handy, and are usually low in fat, but can be a little pricey. 
- Dried fruit and mixed nuts. Keeps well and is good for you, but can be expensive.

Doing all these things can be quite hard if you are constantly on the move, but if you make an effort your body will thank you.. and you will still be able to fit into all your clothes when you get home!

I am really interested to hear if anyone has any other strategies for maintaining their weight and health while backpacking?? Or any other practical and healthy foods to add?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

How I'm backpacking for 9 months on under $6,000 AU

You know what? You really don't need a huge amount of money to explore the world. To prove it I am going to update you guys monthly on my current trip and how I have done it on about $6,000.


Countries visited:      Canada, Peru, New Zealand, Argentina.
Length of travel:       9-10 months
Type of travel:          Backpacking/working holiday including a Contiki Tour.
Working VISAs:      Canada
Vaccinations:            Hep A, Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Cholera - check for Malaria areas (Sth America)


So to travel this long on such a small amount of cash you need to be very aware of everything you spend. You need to be willing to work and be able to adapt to various situations, be able to negotiate and you need be a very quick learner when it comes to networking!

Volunteer work (usually farm stays) in exchange for free accommodation and food are a great way to immerse yourself in the culture, create lifelong friends and extend your network. If you have any friends or contacts that live in the country you are visiting, go visit them and learn about their way of life. I find it's the local experiences I have that are usually the best, as they know the best places to see or go that are often not in any guidebooks!

Keeping an eye out on www.helpx.net is the other major factor that has allowed me to travel on a budget. I have worked with horses all my life and have used this skill to work on a ranch to obtain 5 months of free accommodation, free food, free internet and free education about the Western culture of horse riding and natural horsemanship - something that is very costly to learn and fairly scarce in Australia. So use your current skills to your advantage, or try something totally different, the opportunities on this website are endless, as long as you do your homework.

I am lucky enough to work for a company that is branching out worldwide. So why wouldn't I want to make the most of this situation?! I am only a casual at this particular workplace, and haven't required any kind of degree or qualifications to work there, but I have been an honest, experienced and hard worker over the few years I have been with them - and trust me, it pays off when you can ask a favour of your managers and obtain guaranteed work overseas!

Picking up a bit of work in the hostels you are staying in is also a great way to cut accommodation costs. Depending on the length of time you are in the one place (you have a better chance of getting some work if you are staying longer), you should be able to organise something if you are determined enough. Like I always say, make the most of free food. If a hostel puts on a free breakfast every morning - make your lunch there too! Buy a bottle of water and keep that one bottle as a re-filler. Every little saving helps.

Do research on what discounts you are able to get as a backpacker in the particular area you are visiting. Hosteling International has a discount card that I purchased in Canada which gets me 25% off the Greyhound bus service, and it has saved me soooo much money.


Do lots of it, work out the costs for everything, and make sure you can cover them with money to spare. I like to keep an eye on www.skyscanner.net and www.expedia.com regularly for the cheapest flights, as I keep my travel as unplanned as possible, and sometimes a flight that is $200 cheaper on a particular day will determine when I make my next move.

One way ticket from Melbourne to Vancouver
$870 AU (Student Flights)

The following costs include food, accommodation, phone costs and transport.
May 20 to June 20, 2012
$650 CA (4 nights in a hostel, food, sky-bus, hosteling membership, 2 sim cards and phone credit, 2000km's of bus travel, 4 items of clothing, bike hire in Vancouver, and a few other little things)

Stay tuned!

Any questions or something worth mentioning?? Comment below!!