If you’re preparing to trek Nepal and looking for the most important tips, you can read our ‘must know top tips’ here. In addition to these, we’ve come up with a bunch of Nepal travel hacks! Read about how to blow your nose, stay warm, collect smiles, pack your backpack, and set yourself up for the adventure of a lifetime!
In this blog we mention a few brands based purely on personal experience. We’re not receiving any form of payment from these companies.
On the Trekking Trail
Our first Nepal travel hacks are useful when you’re walking the trekking trail…
The tortoise wins the race!
At Nepalorama we believe in taking it ‘slow and steady’ on the trekking trail. We’ve seen it countless times… Enthusiastic trekkers overtake, proving their strength and stamina. But often, it’s never too long before we overtake and leave them behind exhausted on the side of the trail. Even the fittest trekkers sometimes underestimate the stamina needed to trek at high altitudes. That’s why taking it slow and steady wins the race every time and leaves you with reserves for the next day!
It’s the journey that counts, not the destination
Some people just want to finish the day’s walk as quickly as possible. But the nights in Nepal are long and the teahouses can be very cold. We prefer to take our time and encourage you to do the same! Enjoy the spectacular nature all around you.
One of our favourite Nepal travel hacks – stop to notice the little things – there’s way more to Nepal than its Himalayan giants!
Pause to take photos that you’ll cherish forever and take a break when you want – you can with Nepalorama as you’ll have your own private guide!
Don’t compete with yaks, donkeys and mules on the trail
As trekking in Nepal becomes more popular with tourists, more supplies are needed in the mountains to meet demand. In many areas the only way to transport supplies is by porter, yak, donkey or mule. Enormous yaks carrying heavy loads is an amazing sight and part of the adventure, but whatever you do, don’t get in their way! These animals won’t stop or move for you, so technically they have right of way. Get up and off the trail if you can, and if not – NEVER stand on a ledge or drop off. The same goes for donkeys and mules. When it comes to porters carrying huge loads, it’s just polite to get out of their way rather than expect them to manoeuvre around you.
Keep warm even when it’s freeeezing!
Nepali hot water bottle
There are several things you can do besides wearing warm, breathable layers and a good quality down jacket to seal in heat. At Nepalorama, we encourage you to take a reusable water bottle and water purification tablets. It’s an environmentally friendly, safe and cheap solution to ensure you have enough drinking water. The secret is to take a steel water bottle. When you leave your teahouse in the morning, ask to have your steel bottle filled with boiling water (you may have to pay a bit extra for this). Once your bottle has cooled down just a bit (don’t burn yourself), put it inside your jacket. There you have it – a hot water bottle for your journey!
Treat your water bottle to an isothermic jacket
Last time I trekked Nepal I took this perfect isothermal water bottle cover from Decathlon. I ordered a pot of my favourite lemon, honey and ginger every morning and this cover kept my bottle reasonably warm throughout the day. The perfect warming ‘pick me up’!
Remedy cold hands and feet
If you suffer from cold hands and feet, be sure to take some hand and feet warmers. Follow the instructions and then tuck these toasty warm pads into your gloves and socks. Be sure to take the packets and the used pads themselves with you and dispose of them responsibly at the end of your trek.
Perfect the Nepali nose blow
It’s gross, but an extremely practical Nepal travel hack! I can guarantee you’ll feel the need to blow your nose at some stage during your trek. Don’t create waste by using tissues, either take a handkerchief or better still, get comfortable with the Nepali nose blow! Place a finger over one nostril, turn your head to the side (preferably not in anyone’s direction) and blow hard. Bingo! Repeat on the other side.
Sweet fix and fizzy water
You’re as likely to have a sweet craving at some point as you are to need to blow your nose! Keep a light stash of sweet snacks in your day pack. We recommend biscuits (coconut crunchies are our favourite) and dried fruits and nuts. I like to carry a celebratory Snickers bar for the ultimate summit too!
You can buy sweet snacks in teahouses and sometimes little shops along the way, but the higher you trek, the more expensive they’ll be. That said, it’s great to support the local economy at high altitude!
Give your purified water a fruity flavoured vitamin fizz by adding a natural effervescent vitamin tablet. It improves the taste and is great for a daily immuno boost!
Shrines to your right, wheels clockwise!
Along the trail you’ll pass many shrines and stupas. Always keep them to your right, even if it means walking a little out of your way to get around them. When you do the obligatory prayer wheel spin, remember to spin each wheel clockwise as you’re reciting your personal mantra!
Get permission to snap amazing shots of Nepali life
One of the most special things about trekking Nepal is observing the locals living their simple and beautiful lives. You’ll be tempted to photograph everyone, but before you do ask permission. Even with the language barrier, it’s easy to gesture. Most will be happy and may even want a photograph taken with you, but some people naturally prefer to keep their privacy. It goes without saying that you should respect this.
Leave the Himalaya as you find it
Couldn’t leave this common sense rule off the list! Simply carry your trash with you and then dispose of it responsibly after your trek. I recommend taking biodegradable nappy sacks to carry the small amount of litter you’ll have.
Walk in someone else’s shoes!
Make your adventure even more memorable with this Nepal travel hack! If you’re feeling up to the challenge, try an hour or two in the life of a Nepali porter. Try carrying your own backpack as you trek and when it’s over, enjoy a large plate of delicious Nepali dal bhat!
In the Teahouse
You’ll spend plenty of time in teahouses during your trek. Follow these simple Nepal travel hacks to enjoy your evening and get ready for the next morning!
Keep it clean without catching cold
You’ll soon get used to the dirt and grime from trekking and will welcome a splash of icy cold water to wash your face, hands and feet when you arrive at your teahouse. If it’s really cold, we recommend you don’t take a shower. They’re often outside and the water may be just warm, not hot (especially if it’s a solar shower and you’re not the first in the queue). If your body gets too cold, you’ll find it’s really hard to warm up again, especially at high altitude. Instead use biodegradable hygiene wipes to clean the essentials! When you finally take a hot shower, your perception of taking things for granted will dissolve!
When you feel like putting your trekking clothes in the bin..!
Don’t! It’s true that your trekking clothes will quickly soil (putting it mildly!). But after five minutes of walking the next day, you won’t know the difference. That’s why we recommend you only take one or two sets of trekking clothes depending on the length of your trek. When you get to the teahouse, use a travel washing line in your room to air your clothes and change into your warm fleece evening wear. Then when you get into your sleeping bag, stuff your trekking clothes in the bottom. Sounds bizarre, but when you change in the cold the next morning, your trekking clothes will be warm!
Keeping warm in the dining room
Most teahouses will light a fire in the dining room, but to varying degrees of efficiency. Dining rooms are usually large common spaces, difficult to heat due to their size and lack of insulation.
If you’re feeling cold, don’t hesitate to get your sleeping bag and sit in it! I’ve done this many times. As well as generating smiles from everyone, you’ll be toasty warm!
Charging electronics we can’t live without!
Most teahouse rooms don’t have a power supply. Instead you can pay to charge your devices in the teahouse dining room. Power supplies vary and sometimes even a whole night of charging doesn’t do the job. That’s why we recommend you take a power bank. Our jury is out on solar power banks… Instead we use +20,000 mAh power banks, which charge our phones 6-7 times. Our guides swear by them!
Squeeze a bit more juice out of your devices
When batteries get cold, they lose energy faster. By putting your electronic devices in the bottom of your sleeping bag (with your trekking clothes), they’ll stay warm and last longer!
Be a sunset and sunrise opportunist!
Some places boast incredible sunsets and sunrises depending on their position.
Ask your guide if either is possible and make an extra effort to venture out again in the evening, or early in the morning to snap mountains in red, orange, pink, purple and gold!
The evenings are long. During some you’ll likely find yourself chatting with other trekkers all night. But make sure you have some way of entertaining yourself when there’s no one around or you just want to keep to yourself. A pack of cards, book/e-reader, or notebook and pen tick the boxes for most!
Trekking in the Himalaya is an incredible experience and if you’re open to it – the opportunity for self-reflection and gaining fresh perspective is huge. It’s an amazing time to ask yourself questions, consider whether or not you’re following your true path and living in line with your personal values. Keeping a journal can really help this process and is a great way to keep occupied after dinner!
Perhaps our most obvious Nepal travel hacks, but at Nepalorama we’re all about treating people how we would like to be treated!
Smile and receive a bigger one in return!
Nepali people are just lovely! We’re not going to stereotype a nation here, but on the whole you’ll find some of the most warm-hearted and friendly people in Nepal. Life is hard for many, but it’s also simple and beautiful. In fact, we can learn a lot from Nepali people. You’ll find regular opportunities to converse with locals. Enjoy a cup of tea offered by a shopkeeper in Kathmandu, acknowledge porters along the trail and make the most of finding out about local culture from your guide. Despite the growing number of travellers in Nepal, locals in rural areas still seem fascinated by tourists. Smile at everyone and we guarantee your smiles will be returned tenfold!
Make an effort with even the smallest bit of Nepali
The more you can say in the local language the better, but in my experience there are three phrases you simply can’t live without in Nepal…
Hello and goodbye – Namaste! (Show prayer hands and bob your head for extra effect).
Thank you – Dhanyabad
The food was delicious/tasty – Khana mitho cha!
Respect local customs
Remember, keep shrines and stupas to your right, spin prayer wheels clockwise and ask permission to take photos. Your guide will tell you about other important customs as they come up, so that you can do the right thing!
Respect your guide and porters
Goes without saying right? But we’ve sadly hosted a client in the past who showed a distinct lack of respect towards his guide causing a great deal of upset. Our Nepalorama guides are amazing characters and by treating them as equals, you’re guaranteed to have an amazing trip and to learn so much about their rich culture.
Don’t go overboard with the haggling
Yes, you can get stuff cheap in Nepal. Yes, haggling is widely accepted as the approach to agreeing a price. But people still need to make a living, something that’s becoming harder in Nepal as prices increase.
All we ask is that you pay what you think is a fair price and avoid haggling prices down to nothing. A couple of dollars are likely nothing to you, but can make a big difference for the people you’re buying from.
Packing for Your Trek
Simple but important travel hacks when you’re packing your bags!
The ultimate Nepal travel hack: these boots were made for walking
Your hiking boots are the most important things you’ll take to Nepal. We’ve heard horror stories about people who took new boots, without breaking them in first. You guessed it… they suffered!
That’s why we strongly recommend that you purchase a robust pair of hiking boots (if you don’t already have some) and wear them as you train for your trek. That way, by the time you arrive in Nepal, your boots should be sufficiently worn and comfortable for several days of hard walking.
On a side note, I always carry a Compeed anti-blister stick. Rub the stick on your heel and toes in the morning, to stop your socks from rubbing. Oh and make sure you have decent, warm hiking socks too!
Let’s get rolling
Rolling your clothes takes up a lot less space and it’s also easier to find things.
I’m a big fan of packing cubes. Choose some super light ones and use them to separate your trekking clothes from your evening/sleeping clothes and your non essential belongings. Be sure to keep all your essentials with you in your day pack for easy access. Sometimes your porter may walk ahead or behind, so you may not be able to access the contents of your backpack until you arrive at the teahouse.
Protect fragile items
Protect fragile items if you can’t carry them in your own day pack and be sure to place liquids in something waterproof. Porters often strap bags together tightly for ease of carrying. But sometimes this can lead to an exploding tube of cream or worse still a breakage.
Always take less than you think!
You’ll quickly realise that trekking Nepal is not a fashion parade! I can guarantee you’ll need less than you think. It feels amazing to put on a clean t-shirt in the morning, but after five minutes of walking you’ll feel exactly the same as yesterday and the day before that!
Instead leave some clean clothes at your hotel in Kathmandu or Pokhara and relish the moment when you put them on after a good hot shower!
It’s a well known fact that areas of Kathmandu suffer from pollution. Last time I spent a week there, I developed a bad chesty cough. Keep a small paper or fabric mask with you to cover your mouth and nose, especially when you’re in areas with a lot of traffic. You can buy one in most little shops and all pharmacies in Thamel. Don’t let the pollution put you off though. There are amazing things to see and do in Kathmandu and it’s well worth spending an extra day or two there before or after your trek.
That’s all folks!
If you’ve got this far, you’re equipped with a bunch of tried and tested Nepal travel hacks! When you trek with Nepalorama we want you to walk your own path, on your own terms. Trekking privately with one of our amazing guides gives you so much more flexibility to make the most of your trip – every moment, every hour, every day!