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Surviving Your Backpacking Experience In the Philippines (Or Anywhere Else)

Echo Valley

Making your backpacking experience safe, pleasant, and enjoyable involves a certain degree of planning and common sense. A lot of backpackers go by these rules in order to enjoy any journey.

Check out Tom Brown’s basic survival plan to heart

You need three basic things, whether you’re just touring around a city or you’re trekking out there in the wilderness:

  • Clothing
  • Shelter
  • Water
  • Food

Got it? Now, let’s get on to learning how you can survive and enjoy your backpacking trip. This is applicable not just in the Philippines, but anywhere in the world, from Canada to South Africa. Oh, if you are willing to go backpacking in South Africa too, then I highly suggest to check Europcar south Africa for a safe ride.

Plan your destination and length of time of your stay

(Photo credit: Creative Commons)

Plan your destination properly including an estimated time that you will be in that area. Research about your destination through blogs, travel books, and other sources. If you feel you don’t feel confident making your own travel plan, consider getting the services of a travel agency. Being prepared can spell the difference between a successful and miserable trip.

Make a packing checklist so you can pack only the necessary things you need for your trip. Leave the rest behind. For example, you don’t need to bring a tent if you’re going to be spending all of your backpacking in a city. You won’t need to bring an entire closet of clothes if you’re only backpacking for a few days.

Another important tip: if you’re going to bring valuable things such as your high-end laptop, GPS, etc., we recommend you assess the value of the things and have them insured. The last thing you want is having those expensive stuff misplaced or lost!

Dress accordingly

Malapascua Island

Dress accordingly. When backpacking, the clothes you bring significantly adds to your pack’s overall weight. Don’t bring more clothes than you need. Remember that you can always wash your own clothes. And in many cities and towns, there are laundry services available.

Wear comfortable clothes such as a light shirt and light cargo pants or shorts. Backpackers usually prefer shorts and dry-fit clothes as their fabrics are cooler and lighter.

If you’re going to a place that is known for its cold climate (e.g. the Cordilleras, Baguio, etc.), bring along some warm, well-insulated clothes and a good all-weather jacket.

Hiking outdoors? A good long-sleeved shirt should also help protect you from abrasions caused by plowing through long grass and thorny plants. If you’re not comfortable wearing long sleeves, consider wearing an arm guard. Wearing long trekking pants should also protect your lower limbs from small cuts and abrasions caused by slipping and sliding on rough terrain.

If needed, invest in a high-quality tent

Our camp

Backpacking may require you to camp outdoors. If that’s the case, then invest in a good-quality tent. Don’t go for those cheap beach tents; they won’t last long, and they won’t offer you a lot of protection against the elements.

You might have to pay top dollar for these items. But that’s a small price to pay for comfort in the wilderness. Long, cold, wet, and windy nights in the Philippine outdoors is really not a pleasant thing. You’ll be thankful you shelled out the amount to purchase a portable shelter that actually does its work.

Of course, research can save you from the additional burden of bringing a tent. If the destination has alternative means of shelter, then by all means, treat yourself to a nice place that has a hot shower to wash away all the dirt and grime and to have a refreshing rest.

Wear the proper footwear

Mt. Igcuron knife edge ridge
Wear the proper footwear. This is probably the most important thing in any trip or adventure as you’ll be doing a lot of walking.

Wearing the right footwear means wearing shoes based on the terrain you’ll be walking on. For example, you won’t need to wear heavy boots if you’re only going to be spending all of your walking in a city. Rubber shoes or light sandals will do. But if you’re hiking on a wilderness trail, then you need to wear hiking shoes with an aggressive tread.

Don’t forget to bring some nourishment

Bring some food and water along, whether you’re touring around the city or hiking in the wilderness. Trust us, you will be sweating a lot! That food and water will replenish the ions, minerals, and nutrients you lost through sweating.

Granola bars, nuts, or even bread brought from the local bakery will do. It’s also a good idea to bring an ion-powered drink such as Gatorade; it is much better than water in replacing nutrients.

In populated areas, there will always be plenty of food establishments where you can grab a bite. However, your tummy might not agree with some of the local food being served. Or you may be allergic to certain ingredients that are used in preparing most of the local food. As such, it is a good idea to bring your own foodstuff and drink.

Mind the time

Wear a watch and be mindful of the time. Going on an adventure can sometimes give you the feeling that you never want it to end. But just like budgeting your money, you need to budget your time so you’ll have enough rest, you won’t be late for your bus strip, etc.

A watch with an alarm function is preferable, especially if you’re a deep sleeper.

Do away with a heavy camera

(Photo credit: Creative Commons)

Bring a light camera. Some people believe that you need the latest DSLR camera to capture the best pictures when you travel. But DSLRs are quite heavy. And that does not include the lenses, flashes, tripods, and other equipment you need to bring along with it.

Thanks to technological advancements, we have lighter alternatives. There are now high-quality point-and-shoot digital cameras (we are using a compact Nikon AW100 waterproof digicam and a GoPro) and mirrorless cameras. And modern smartphones can now take pretty good photos.

Don’t forget sunscreen and insect repellent


Don’t forget the sunscreen. You’ll be staying in the outdoors a lot, so you need sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Choose one with a high SPF—the higher the SPF level, the better. However, don’t put sunscreen when you go for a swim in the beach. The chemicals in the sunscreen are known to kill delicate corals and create imbalances in the marine environment. Instead, wear a good-quality rashguard.

Slop on insect repellent as well, especially if you’re staying in rural villages or places where there’s a lot of plants or stagnant water. Mosquitoes thrive there, and you don’t want to catch a mosquito-borne disease.

Exercise beforehand and be physically fit

Early morning yoga

Backpacking is usually a strenuous physical activity. You walk some distance, carry a heavy backpack on your shoulders, or even swim a lot. Being physically fit helps you take on the challenges you might face on the road. Cardio vascular exercises build up your resistance, while weight training programs help you carry heavier loads.

Here are some nice and simple exercises that you can do as a backpacker

  • yoga
  • jogging
  • brisk walking
  • climbing on inclined surfaces
  • sit-ups
  • squats
  • military press
  • calf and ankle raises

For safety, always have an open line of communication

Always bring a phone—and always keep it charged—for emergencies. Nowadays, cellular phone signals are everywhere even if you’re high up in the mountains.

Make sure that you can be located. Inform trusted friends and loved ones beforehand that you are embarking on a journey. It would be best if you provide them your itinerary, schedule, and ways you can be contacted. Bring a copy of the phone numbers of the emergency services in the place you’re visiting. Remember, an adventure can be just as satisfying with the right precautionary measures taken.

Backpacking is a personal experience, and you may have to make alterations in the tips above. But these few, simple, and practical tips should make your backpacking trip a safe, pleasant, and memorable one.

About Gian and Sheila

Rock climbers. Mountaineers. Sweethearts on adventure. Adrenaline Romance is a photoblog that belongs to a loving couple who has an eternal lust for adventure. The blog contains experiences, tips, itineraries, and other useful information regarding adventuring in the Philippines and beyond.

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