Below is a great book that my dear friend Caroline Yacu wrote with her friend Dawn after they went on their epic backpacking trip. I loved this so much I asked Caroline if I could post it here!

So here it is… starting with #100.

Caroline’s current blog – Year of Outrageous Living, can be found here.


Don’t Forget  the Toilet Paper!

100 Golden Rules for the Backpacker

Things we wish we had known before OUR trip!

By: Caroline Yacu & Dawn Darby

Rule #100: When traveling to 3rd world countries, if you plan to wipe your bottom with something other than your hand and water, DON’T FORGET THE TOILET PAPER!

Rule #99:  Travel size bottles of hand-sanitizer are ALWAYS useful.

Rule #98:  If you are camping or staying in hostels, a headlamp will become your life-saver.

Rule #97:  Highly absorbent, quick-drying towels like the REI MultiTowel Lite are awesome and take up very little packing space.

Rule #96: If you have purchased multi-leg plane tickets, ALWAYS reconfirm your seat a day or two before your flight.

Rule #95:  A backpack with wheels will save you A LOT of backaches and headaches.  One with a removable backpack is very convenient too.

Rule #94:  For women, light dresses are easy to pack, easy to wear, and easy to dress up or down.

Rule #93:  Scarfs or bandanas are great for bad hair-days, cleaning up spills, and even as belts if you so need.

Rule #92: Airborne, vitamins, DayQuil and NyQuil are always good to have on hand.

Rule #91: Body splash is a quick-fix for bad smelling clothing, AND people!

Rule #90: Chat networks like Skype and Google Chat are GREAT ways to keep in touch.

Rule #89:  If you plan to head to the jungle, make sure you bring a poncho AND insect repellent!

Rule #88: Try to learn basic foreign phrases in the country you visit like Thank You, Hello, Have a Nice Day, etc.

If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.

James A. Michener

Rule #87:  Remember, you are MUCH bigger than insects and spiders…think of the fear THEY feel when they see YOU!

Rule #86: Smile, it is part of the universal language.


Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey!

Fitzhugh Mllan

Rule #85: If in Egypt, drink AS MUCH mango juice as you possibly can, it is delectable.

Rule #84: If in Morocco, drink AS MUCH freshly squeezed orange juice as you possibly can.  You will have beautiful dreams about it!

Rule #83: Try to give your items specific spots in your backpack, you will find them MUCH easier if you do this.

Rule #82:  If you are trying to lighten the load, shampoo also makes a great body wash…no need to pack them both.

Rule #81:  Stuffing dryer sheets in between your clothing can help eliminate some of the stench!

Rule #80:  You can never go wrong by having a fork and knife in your backpack.

Rule #79:  Pack comfortable and supportive gym shoes.  They will take you far and you won’t need to weigh yourself down with a pair of hiking boots.

Rule #78:  Ladies, just because you are backpacking, does NOT mean you cannot feel cute.  Accessories and lip gloss go a long way!


Rule #77:  Gentlemen, just because you are backpacking, does NOT mean that chivalry is dead.  If you see someone who needs help with their bags, STEP UP!

Rule #76:  Keep track of each country’s currencies and the exchange rate.  This is information that you will want to look back and remember.

Rule #75:  Take TONS of pictures and save them onto CD’s when you get to an internet café.  Send these CD’s home as back-up.


Take only memories, leave only footprints.

Chief Seattle


Rule #74:  Carry a small notebook or journal so you can gather people’s contact info and notes that they write to you…ask them to sign your travel book!

Rule #73:  Take advantage of everything the country has to offer: new cuisines, outdoor activities, historical sites, and most importantly, THE PEOPLE!


We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.

Jawaharlal Nehru


Rule #72:  Pack a wind-proof and water-proof soft shell that you can throw on over anything.

Rule #71:  As a woman traveling to conservative countries, be sure to have your shoulders completely covered as well as your legs.

Rule #70:  If traveling to any country during its PEAK season, book accommodation IN ADVANCE.

Rule #69:  Have a handy spot (i.e. front page of your journal) to record important numbers such as emergency numbers, frequent flier numbers, passport number, driver’s license number, etc.

Rule #68:  Carry Kleenex or toilet paper everywhere you go.

Rule #67:  Keeping a travel blog will be enjoyable for yourself as well as for your loved ones.  It is also another great way to keep in touch.

Rule #66:  3 months before traveling abroad, check with your doctor to see what vaccinations and/or antibiotics you made need.

Rule #65:  Facial cleansing cloths are a quick and easy way to wash your face and body.

Rule #64:  If you are concerned about eating fruits and vegetables in certain countries, peel the skin beforehand (your knife will come in handy here!)

Rule #63:  Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  More often than not, people are VERY willing to help and you may make a great friend.

Rule #62:  Before leaving, set up all your bank and credit card accounts online so that you can view your balances and activities from abroad.

Rule #61:  Call your bank and credit card companies to determine what type of international fees they will apply.  Find a company that will offer you the lowest fee (i.e. 1%).

Rule #60:  Make copies of all important documents and cards (i.e. passport, visas, driver’s license, credit cards, plane tickets, etc) and leave them with your family and/or friends.  Carry one copy with you in a separate place from the originals.


Rule #58:  Leave a copy of your itinerary with your family and/or friends.

The journey, not the arrival matters.

T. S. Eliot


Rule #57:  E-mail the name and number of your accommodation to your family and/or friends if possible.

Rule #56:  Clearly name-tag every piece of luggage.

Rule #55:  If you plan to stay in a country for an extended period of time, have your cell phone UN-LOCKED by your carrier and purchase a SIM card from the respective country from their local carrier.

Rule #54: Do NOT wear expensive jewelry or carry an excess amount of money with you.  There is no point and no need.

Rule #53:  Be safe-Drink BOTTLED water.

Rule #52:  If traveling for an extensive period of time, it is wise to buy traveler’s insurance.  Many companies specialize in this.

Rule #51:  Bring flip-flops for the shower! You will feel MUCH better about the experience!

Rule #50:  Use credit cards when possible and retrieve money from an ATM.  You will get the best exchange rate as opposed to exchanging money when you are there.

Rule #49:  If traveling in a group, discuss your goals ahead of time and keep the line of communication open.  If you need to separate for a day or two, then do so.  Try not to take things too personally.


I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them. 

Mark Twain


Rule #48:  Be respectful of the country and its customs.  You are on their land and you should feel honored to be there.


When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.

Clifton Fadiman


Rule #47:  Before arriving to a country, check the tipping policy so that you are prepared and know what to do in those situations.

Rule #46:  Buy a purse or money belt that allows you to carry your money and passport VERY close to your body.  Always be conscious of it.

Rule #45:  Buy a lock for your backpack with an extension that allows you to fasten your bag to another bag, or to bars on the train, etc.

Rule #44:  Beware of bedbugs! Inspect your mattress before unpacking.  They will generally be underneath it as they like to live in darkness.

Rule #43:  Don’t put all your money and credit cards in one place.  Split them up so that you are prepared for a worse-case scenario.

Rule #42:  If you can avoid staying on 1st floors, do so.  They are much easier to break into.

Rule #41:   Do some research about the country’s public transportation ahead of time.  Typically this will save you a lot of money and you will be able to navigate around the city much easier.

Rule #40:  Don’t disclose information such as your hotel, room number, itinerary, etc to people who really don’t need it.

Rule #39:  Keep your first-aid kit to a minimum, you won’t need too much (i.e. band-aids, alcohol pads, Neosporin, Tylenol, and Tums).

Rule #38:  PACK LIGHT! You may realize this the hard way and discard things as you go along, but we cannot stress this enough! PACK LIGHT!


He who would travel happily must travel light.

Antoine de St. Exupery


Rule #37:  Stick to one color theme (i.e. black or brown) so that you can match the same shoes, belts, and accessories to your clothing.

Rule #36:  Be prepared with the appropriate voltage converter or adapter.  You can purchase a variety pack ahead of time if you need.

Rule #35:  Don’t feel bad about having anti-tourist days!  If you need a break from sight-seeing, it is OK! Go to the movies or hang out at the internet café and don’t feel guilty.  Believe it or not, you need a break from being a tourist at times as well!

Rule #34:  Enjoy your days! YES, you want to socialize with the locals and fellow travelers at night, but maintain a balance so that you can wake up and explore the city or town you are in.

Rule #33:  BE OPEN! You will learn and grow so much and gain a life perspective that will keep you thankful and appreciative forever.


…travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.

Miriam Beard


Rule #32:   HAVE FUN!  Traveling is an experience that will change your world.  Enjoy every moment and cherish the memories.

Rule #31:   Be patient.  You cannot escape airport lines, language barriers, and general confusion when traveling abroad.  Take a deep breath, be patient, and feel confident that everything will get sorted.


Embrace the detours.

Kevin Charbonneau


Rule #30:  Make sure that EVERY pair of shoes you pack is comfortable to walk in.  You will thank yourself for this!

Rule #29:  Pack a digital camera, an extra memory card, and an extra battery!

Rule #28:  A wristwatch that is water-proof and has a built-in alarm clock will be extremely useful.

Rule #27:  If you wear contacts, be sure to pack as many extra sets as you may need.

Rule #26:  Bring a handful of pictures of your family and friends to show off and look through when you feel a little homesick.

Rule #25:  Ziploc baggies make great storage for toiletries, q-tips, cosmetics, etc.  Pack a few extra for wet bathing suits just in case!

Rule #24:  Don’t forget to pack the mailing addresses of all your loved ones.  They will REALLY appreciate getting postcards from you.

Rule #23:  If you plan to stay in hostels, a sleeping bag and/or thin sheet will come in handy.  Not all hostels will provide them for you.

Rule #22:  Make an effort to keep exercise a habit even while traveling.  Walk, participate in activities, do some push-ups, sit-ups, etc.  You will feel better about your regular intake of beer!

Rule #21:  Overnight buses can save you time and money on accommodation, but don’t make them a regular habit.  Your sleep and health are more important than a few dollars saved.

Rule #20:  Know your blood type before you leave.

Rule #19:  If you plan to rent a car in Europe, many countries require an international license.  Do the research ahead of time and if necessary, apply for one before your trip.

Rule #18:  LOOK BOTH WAYS BEFORE YOU CROSS THE STREET! Rules of the road are different abroad.  Pedestrians may not always have the right of way and they may also drive on the opposite side of the street.  Be aware of traffic from both sides!

Rule #17:  Always carry spare change of the local currency.  A lot of bathrooms abroad charge you to use the facility.  It would be horrific to be denied use of the toilet for not having 10 cents to offer!

Rule #16:  Pretend like you belong there!  If all else fails, walk into a hotel or restaurant and confidently walk to the bathroom to use their facilities.  We can almost guarantee that you will not be questioned.

Rule #15:  ROLL UP YOUR PANTS! Before going into a bathroom where you may have to squat, roll up your pants so that they don’t graze the floor, or heaven forbid, the toilet!!

Rule #14:  Kindness will take you far.  If you need help (i.e. at the airport, your hostel, the train station, etc) treat the attendant with compassion and kindness and you will openly receive a helping hand.

Rule #13:  Never become complacent with your belongings.  If there is a safe in your hostel/hotel, USE IT!!! Trust us!

Rule #12:  If you want a mindless trip, take advantage of guided tours.  You have to stick to a schedule, but all the planning hassles will be taken care of for you!  And you meet like-minded people!

Rule #11:  If you are intending of finding work abroad, you will most likely need to obtain a work visa ahead of time, especially for Europe as an American citizen.

Rule #10:  Keep in touch with the friends you make abroad.  By doing so, you will have an international family for life and places to stay all over the world!

Rule #9:  As you learn important lessons, write them down so that you never forget them!

Rule #8:  Hold onto ALL airplane ticket stubs, entry and departure documentation, etc until you have left the country for good.  Put them in a safe spot so that you can access them easily upon request.

Rule #7:  If you don’t eat something from the plane, or any meal for that matter (i.e. crackers, bread roll, bag of chips, etc), stash it away for later.  You never know when you will get hunger pains.

Rule #6:  Take advantage of friends and family coming to meet you along your travels.  If you need something from your home country (i.e. medication, etc), have them bring it along.  Typically, they have missed you so much, they don’t even expect you to pay them back…heehee!

Rule #5:  If bored, revert to childhood games such as Hangman, Tic Tac Toe, 21 questions, etc.

Rule #4:  A GREAT way to get to know your travel mates is to play ‘favorites.’  Take turns picking different categories (i.e. color, sport, food, movie, etc) and learn what each other’s favorite is!

Rule #3:  Don’t take your travels for granted.  Many people would LOVE to be in your shoes experiencing what you are experiencing.  Relish each moment and be thankful.

Rule #2:  Remember, the best moment is NOW!

Rule #1:  Bring what you have learned home with you.  Appreciate what you have.  Celebrate diversity.  Help others.  And welcome people into your own country.

A good traveler is one who does not know where he is going to, and a perfect traveler does not know where he came from.

No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.

Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash


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