My 9 Top Tips for Autumn/Winter Backpacking Adventures

Saxon Garden, Warsaw, 2017

Travelling in autumn and winter is my favourite time to travel. Summer is nice but my summer body hasn’t been ready in 22 years and I hate having to constantly apply sun-cream. Plus autumn colours are my favourite and winter means snug jumpers and of course snowy weather.

So travelling frequently in the colder months means that I have got some top tips for doing so, and doing so well. There are 9 main tips however, I go into lots of detail. I’m sorry for long this post is, but everything on it is the result of my experiences. Hope you enjoy!

  1. Packing is a Method.
    This one might seem really obvious but it’s such an important one (and a one I need to remind myself every time we go anywhere). What you pack and how much you take can and will come back to bite you if you do a shoddy job of it. So don’t over pack and what you do take, make sure it can all be mixed and matched to try and get the most out of a few items. And don’t forget to pack in an order that makes sense. Put your phone in a place that you can grab really easily and put the things you’ve already worn or won’t need straight away at the bottom of your pack.
    Don’t forget you have to carry everything you take so make it as light as possible!

  2. Your Feet are your Best Friends.
    Walking upwards of 15’000 steps per day for prolonged periods of time will kill your feet. So make sure the shoes or boots you take are comfortable, warm and waterproof. You also want them to be fairly smart just encase you end up in a nice bar or restaurant and don’t want to look too much like a tourist. I also cannot stress enough the importance of thick comfy socks to help protect your feet from blisters and try and keep them happy.

  3. Bring Plenty of Entertainment.
    At some point you will be sat on waiting around. Either for your check in time, or sat on a train or bus or plane and need something to pass the time. But again you need to be smart about what you take. Books are good however they take up space in your back and they can be heavy. Downloading TV shows or films onto a phone or tablet is another great option but that bares the problem of battery drainage. The same problems occur with listening to music. Something that I will be investing in for our next adventure is a portable charger for our phones and tablet and we need a new headphone splitter so we can listen or watch things together without one ear exposed to noisy passengers. Another good option is to take a notebook and some pens. This way you can write, draw or play hangman for hours on end!

  4. Save Space to Bring Things Home.
    Every adventure of ours we always say ‘we wont be taking any souvenirs back and we’re not taking any presents back’. I am yet to go on an adventure, where this has been the case. If you’re travelling before Christmas, you are bound to find either a cute Christmas decoration or an ideal present for someone. So don’t cram your pack full, you will need the space later.
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    We bought this adorable hand made Christmas decoration from a shop in the old town of Tallinn, Estonia on our 2018 Adventure.
  5. Do your Research and Plan Ahead.
    This might be another obvious one however you’d be surprised by the times we’ve been saved from disappointment as a result of planning ahead.
    Some places have dress codes, especially the likes of religious buildings. This means you need to cover up when you are visiting. In the winter this shouldn’t be a problem however, if you don’t, they charge a fortune for those scarfs to wrap around yourself. Another regular dress code rule is that large backpacks aren’t admitted into many places. Sometimes there are storage lockers for them however, its easier to not risk it at all. If you look up these places you can find out what the rules are and plan accordingly.
    Opening times can also catch you out, especially in winter. Usually during the low season attractions have a different set of opening hours which are usually shorter days. Also some exhibits or attractions within these places might not be open due to low season so don’t let that ruin your day.
    Finally, you can sometimes catch a lucky break and arrive to an attraction on days that are free on days that are religious or national holidays. This happened to us when we visited Edinburgh Castle as it was St Andrews day. We got in for free instead of paying something like £20 each and it made the whole day so much better.

  6. Check In/Check Out Times.
    This could fall into the previous plan ahead sections however, I felt it needed its own section because its so important. This has caught us out more times than i’d like to admit. Most places you cant check in until 2 pm at the earliest. Somewhere we went to had a 4 pm check in. This could be a nightmare if you’ve been on an overnight bus from, lets say, Krakow to Berlin and haven’t slept much and all you want is a shower and a nap but you cant until 2 pm at the earliest… No, I’m not over it and I’m not sure I ever will be.
    Check out times can be a bother as well if your next transport link isn’t until later that day, it can mean you’ll need to be out of your accommodation early (sometimes as early as 9 am but mostly 10 am or 11 am) and need to carry your pack with you all day. If you have taken my earlier advice and packed light and know of attractions that you can visit with your pack or can drop it off somewhere, this shouldn’t be a problem, its just something to keep in mind.

  7. Take a Small Emergency Kit.
    This is advice I absolutely need to take. You never know what you’re going to need while away and packing just a small pouch of essentials can save you time looking for a pharmacy and trying to tell them what you need if you don’t speak the same language. So the essentials are: Paracetamol, plasters (you will get a blister at some point), small sowing kit, a razor, anti-bacterial hand wash, hay fever tables (mainly in summer) and of course some snacks. You never know what the hanger is going to hit!

  8. Breakfast can Make or Break your Day.
    Speaking of snacks, breakfast is a really important one when travelling, especially in Europe. Most people in Europe have breakfast really early and then late lunch so my top tip is to have something on hand to eat encase you can’t find a cafe that’s open. When you’re out walking all day you’re going to burn through energy so fast you’ll find yourself eating so much more than normal purely just to maintain calories. So buy some cereal bars and always know where you’re nearest takeout coffee shop is! You’ll also save money by doing this and not having a proper sit down meal every morning. And of course, there’s always the option of McDonald’s.

  9. Treat Every Destination like you’ll Never Visit Again.
    I’ve saved this tip until last as its possibly the most important one on here. Life is short, and the world is full of so many amazing places and if you share my mind-set, you won’t want to spend all your travel time visiting the same places over and over. So treat every adventure like that last time you’ll be in that place and you will find a new appreciation of it. It’s also a good way to prioritise what you really want to see or do and help weed out what you aren’t as bothered about.

I hope you enjoyed my top tips, and if you have any please share them in the comments below.

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