Before you think this is something I do all the time, I’ll tell you that I don’t.
I only bring books and stuff when there’s an exam coming up. This usually happens when I travel during study breaks. If you don’t like the idea of multitasking then I suggest you don’t do it. What’s the point of not enjoying your destination to the fullest and not giving the most to your studies?
Thankfully though, it works for me. I have to thank the fact that I’m capable of reading in a plane, car, train boat etc. Reading in a moving vehicle doesn’t affect me at all. In fact, it improves my concentration, especially the plane bit!
What do I bring?
Not thick 5kg books. I only bring condensed notes that I’ve made myself. These are the ones I engage with better, because when you’re sitting in a rattling train, there’s only THAT much concentration you can keep before throwing the book away. Bring concise things, summaries, and notes with good font size. Practice questions are great too because it keeps your brain working. Choosing the right material is crucial!
Trust me, it makes a difference.
When do I study?
The big question. This really depends on the place I am at.
If it’s a temperate country, I allocate about 2 hours at the hottest part of the afternoon, which is the time I usually wouldn’t head out anyways. Unfortunately, I wilt easily under the sun.
If it’s rainy season, then obviously when I’m caught in the hostel during a downpour. Add that to a hot cup of coffee and bingo, a solid study session.
Then of course I study at night, right before I go to bed. The duration depends on the plans I have at night. Going out? 1-2 hours. In a sleepy town where nothing happens at night? As much as 4-5 hours.
There is ALWAYS time when you can squeeze in work, it’s just how good you are at saying no to procrastination.
If a voice pops up in your head (in mine too) saying that it’s better to fully enjoy yourself now and work hard later. Ignore.
What I put in my study bag?
Yes, I have a separate study bag from my backpack so I can pull things out anytime, anywhere. It works like magic.
But here’s a list of what I have in my bag;
1. My notes
2. The important parts of my pencil case (don’t bring everything)
3. Coffee ( the ones in small sachets so I can make them in hostels)
4. My ipad
5. My phone which has a timer. ( I give myself 4-6 minutes to read each page of my notes, so I don’t lose track of time)
I think I have a few more other stuff but I can’t remember them right now. These are the main ones though!
How to choose the right hostel?
I cannot emphasize this more, get a hostel with strong wifi. Don’t just believe what they say in their ads/page, check the reviews and make sure they have wifi. Unless you’re the kind that do not need the Internet to study of course.
I personally do not carry a laptop when I travel because it’s too heavy for my luggage limit, so I try to get a hostel with a PC whenever I can. Some really good places even have mini workplaces where you can do some research etc. I double it up and study there. Just make sure you let the others use the computer when they need it.
There are also party hostels and hostels for sleep. Know which ones you need because you don’t have to study every night. Go out when the time and place feels right!
Most importantly, make a rough schedule before you leave and try your best to stick to it. It wouldn’t be perfect and you might not get everything done. But hey, you’re backpacking and not letting things get too out of hand when you get back!
It can be tough at times to juggle your passion to backpack the world and be ‘stuck’ in school with exams, assignments and deadlines. In fact, now that I’m in med school, I’m travelling a lot less than I would like to.
You lose the urge to try and put yourself out there sometimes, but when you do, I promise it’s the best thing ever. Just find it in yourself to take the first step.
Happy travels, and remember, travel responsibly!