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The right backpack, currency questions and more

by Nanna

Hey Amanda! Great, great, great homepage - thanks for helping us (newbie)backpackers on our way :-) I have three questions I hope to get answered.. (If you have the time)

First, I was wondering what size backpack you prefer? I know "the perfect size" is subjective, but would love to know your recommendations!

I am planning to travel South East Asia, India and Nepal with my boyfriend, and we're expecting it to last 5-6 months.

I have another question concerning valuta. Of course we bring some US dollars and the currency of our first destination, but what about the second, third and so on? Should we just find a random ATM and raise money in each country? (And how much should we raise?)

Third (and last) - You wrote in one of your articles that your first country to visit was India and that you, now, would have chosen differently. - Which country is "easiest" to begin with?

- Many questions from a (a bit) confused to-be backpacker ;) I hope you have the time to answer them! Thanks in advance!


Answer: Hey Nanna! :-)

1) For 5-6 months and since you're visiting Southeast Asia, India and Nepal, I would recommend 60-65 liters. The climate in Nepal and far north India requires different outfits, like sweaters, wool socks etc. If you're going to trek a lot, that requires extra equipment.

2) Currency: If you're traveling to for instance India, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, and your first destination is India, it isn't necessary to bring money for each individual country before you leave home, but only for the first destination as you've already mentioned.

If you're arriving at the airport at a new destination/country, you can withdraw money from the airport's ATM.

If you're border crossing from ex. Thailand to Malaysia, you can exchange a little money to Malaysian ringgit, to cover transportation costs and food. Once you're in Malaysia and have located an ATM, you can withdraw a larger sum of money.

I would take out as much money you're comfortable carrying around. Carrying thousands of dollars makes you feel "exposed" and vulnerable. It depends on your budget, but to cover 4-5 days with food, drinks and sightseeing fees or whatever, I would say Rs 5000 in India and 3000 baht in Thailand. I personally withdraw more than that to save me the ATM fees. If you're on a tough budget, you might consider withdrawing larger sums because of the withdrawal fees. And then consider to spread the cash on different places (backpack, daypack and other "secret" places). In Thailand, ATMs charge like 150 THB per transaction fee.

3) India is a tough entré for a newbie backpacker who has never been in Asia before. Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore is the countries I see as ideal starting countries.

I started my journey in Mumbai and that was too much. If I had started in Goa or Kerala or something first, I don't think Mumbai would have felt so "bad."

Just ask if there's anything else! And Merry Christmas! :-)


Posted: Dec 23, 2012

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