Backpacking, Know the Risks!

Backpacking can be a once in a lifetime experience that allows you to explore the world at your leisure and visit all the places that you’ve always wanted to go to. However, for the unprepared, far from being a dream getaway, a backpacking excursion can turn into something more akin to a living nightmare, with robberies, disease and injury all on the list of potential dangers. Don’t be caught out: understand the dangers of backpacking.



Many backpacking holidays go without a hitch, however, on the off chance that something does go awry, it’s vital to get insured. Although it may end up being an unnecessary cost, holiday cover will save you from having to contact a medical solicitor when you get back home in the case that you’ve suffered an injury. Two highly recommended insurers for travelling are red24 and Hiscox, both of which give up-to-date text and email alerts about potential dangers in the areas you’re visiting.

Dangerous Regions

Although backpacking is all about exploring the outside world, this should only be done within reason. Unless you’re travelling with the army, there are certain places that you will want to avoid, such as war torn areas or areas with civil unrest. You can get a map on the Foreign and Commonwealth website of those areas which are considered safe and those which are considered no go.


Before you leave to go backpacking, it’s important to stock up on any necessary medical supplies, such as aspirin and paracetamol. Although you can buy these abroad, in the event that you fall ill, it will save you the bother of having to sort through aisles of unfamiliar labels in a foreign chemist. It’s also a good idea to stock up on suntan lotion in the UK, as it tends to not only be cheaper but also have better protection levels.


An appointment at your local doctor surgery will let you know which jabs you need for the areas that you plan to visit. Make sure you prepare early, a course of Hepatitis B jabs takes 6 months to complete. As a general rule you’ll need rabies jabs for any undeveloped areas that you intend to visit and malaria tablets for tropical and subtropical areas.

Refused Entry

Don’t get caught out with visas. Apply early; some countries require several months notice to complete a visa request. If you have a UK passport, you’ll need visas for most places in Southeast Asia, Asia and North America, however, you can travel freely within South America without pre application for a visiting document.


Travellers are often targeted by criminal groups and petty thieves. Make sure you have your wits about you at all times and try not to stand out. Don’t go out in flashy jewelry and leave other expensive possessions back at your accommodation. Try not to leave yourself a target if you’re drinking. Stick with friends or people that you know and trust and don’t go off in an unfamiliar part of town with a stranger.

The dangers of backpacking are plentiful, however, with a bit of consideration, and some luck, you can safely avoid the large majority of them.

For more information download a PDF safety guide

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