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It was in April 2010 when I made my first trip as a backpacker, where I toured Belize, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. Although I had been abroad before, it was on this trip that I decided to spend more than a month away from home, and from then until now the experience I have acquired with each trip has been more than invaluable. Before you check out my tips and advice, this Travel Calculator can help you keep check of your travel distances.

1- Sit somewhere and watch people

It will sound boring to do this, but it is the best way to know firsthand how the daily life of the inhabitants of a city is. It can be a park, the corner cafe, a restaurant or open-air bar, even the square of a remote village, any public place of this type allows you to see how people live in other parts of the world.

2- Do not be afraid to spend money once in a while

As a backpacker I know what are the advantages of saving, I know the importance of spending as little as possible, so that the money gives you more and so you can continue traveling for a long time. Having said this, there comes a time when sometimes it is not enough to give your tastes and spend a little more to get what you want. Whether it's a $ 25 lunch, a night at a high-end hotel or paying for a first class tour, going over the budget to achieve self-satisfaction or greater comfort is not something that should be seen as a sin.

3- Use Couchsurfing

At this point, it will seem strange that a backpacker does not know what Couchsurfing is about, but if you are one of those, do not worry. You are not the only one. This website is a huge community of travelers who contact guests to stay in their homes. Couchsurfing is very thrifty if you travel for long periods of time, but the special thing is to be able to interact with the local hosts, an experience that you can hardly get in another type of accommodation.

4- Do not plan so much

I remember when I went through Central America in 2010, with my Lonely Planet in hand, tracing and following the route suggested by the guide. I can hardly say that I improvised, since for being my first backpacking trip I was afraid that things would not go as planned, so I stayed anchored to the route I came up with with the Lonely Planet.

5- Do not leave without travel insurance

Most will see buying insurance as an unnecessary cost, but nothing is further from reality. The desirable thing to have an insurance is not to use it, and I understand that nobody loves to spend money, but keep in mind that life brings with it all kinds of surprises and changes that can not be controlled by the human being (diseases, natural disasters ), and therefore it is better to be prepared for any eventuality. If you want to know more details about this topic, in this article you can be aware.

6- Do not pack too much

If there is one thing that you learn by force when backpacking is to decrease the amount of luggage you carry with you, and not because you presume to go with little, but because there is no other option. Several times it has happened to me that I end up giving away or selling what is left over in my backpack, and I have never regretted it. If at the time of packing you are hesitant to carry something, it is because you do not need it. In case you require something that you forgot to bring, it is more than sure that you will find it in the country you visit.

7- Always keep your mind open

When you are abroad, never forget that you go to regions where opinions and lifestyles are very different from what you usually understand. Therefore, use sympathy in your favor and do not judge those habits that you do not know, nor presume that your point of view or opinion is superior to that of others. If you do not know something, it's as simple as asking and so you come out of ignorance.

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Road trips have an allure that is almost tangible. The open road stretching in front of you, the freedom to come and go as you please, the wind in your hair as you speed into the unknown… it’s an adventure you can almost taste. Before you give in to the magic of a self-driven adventure, check out these top trip tips to keep yourself on the straight and narrow.

Divide and Conquer

Play to the strengths you and your travel companions possess. Figure out who has a talent for navigation, who’s the best DJ, who’s got the concentration for long stretches behind the wheel and who’s the snack master – and put them in charge of that particular task. That way, no one is stuck with all the work and everything will get done well and efficiently.

Dot Your I’s and Cross Your T’s

Make sure you have everything in place. That means your license is in your wallet and your registration and insurance are in your glove box – and you can grab it all at a moment’s notice (nothing is worse than a police officer tapping his foot impatiently as you rifle through old receipts and random paperwork in search of the documents he’s just asked for). Additionally, it’s a good idea to pay off any parking or traffic tickets you have looming over your head. If you get pulled over and anything is amiss, it could bring your road trip to a grinding halt – and that’s no fun for anyone.

Make Your Phone Fun

Silence may be golden, but it is also the… err, silent killer of road trips. Don’t leave yourself audibly stranded when conversation dies down because the only thing you can find to listen to on the radio is static and there are miles to go before your next stop. Make sure you pack your phone full of entertainment such as music, podcasts, audiobooks and streaming apps like Spotify (and don’t forget to download some things for when service is shoddy).

Invest in the Best Car Excess Insurance

This tip is crucial to anyone who is road tripping in a rental car. When you hire a vehicle and it gets stolen or damaged, many rental companies will charge you an arm and a leg for any excess costs – even if you’re not at fault. To ensure headache-free travelling, it’s important to shop around and get the best car excess insurance possible. That way, if some unforeseen accident does occur, you’ll be able to remain calm, collected and covered.

These road trip tips should ensure smooth sailing (and driving) on your next cross-country adventure. Now what are you waiting for? Break out those cheesy pop hits from your youth and stock up on petrol station snacks. The open road awaits!

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