As previously promised, here is a list of what I love most about backpacking. Following on from my ‘Why I hate backpacking’ post (if you haven’t read it click here to check it out), I am well out of my black hole of despair, have stopped being so damned dramatic (mostly) and have pulled myself together. I hope it opened your eyes a little bit and you now understand that the backpacking lifestyle isn’t the always exciting, adventurous lifestyle its made out to be on social media and that it does have some serious downsides-sometimes anyway.
Enough of the doom and gloom, let’s cut to the chase-yes backpacking may not be fun ALL of the time…but for the majority of the time, it certainly is. Travelling is my life and I intend it to stay that way for a very long time, something I just wouldn’t do if I really hated it. I don’t believe that we should necessarily live in the country we were born in, simply because we were born there. I want to experience everywhere and then decide where I want to spend my time; luckily I have a partner who is on exactly the same page as me.
So here are some of my absolute favourite things about the backpacking lifestyle;
Possibly the best thing about travelling is meeting like minded people (or not) and making forever friends after only a couple of days. In hostels especially, you get thrown together with people you would perhaps never ever speak to in everyday life; which is what makes the experience even better. You meet people from all walks of life and it changes you for the better; you become more open minded, less judgmental and you start to see the best in everybody (unless they’re being really loud when you’re trying to sleep-then you hate their guts). There is no feeling quite like when you’re a little home sick and you suddenly hear a familiar accent. Reminiscing about home with strangers and arguing about slang words (I’m from Hull-we use a LOT of slang) in a completely foreign country is so surreal. Pretty soon you realise… you have friends from ALL around the world, which makes travelling cheaply pretty easy if you stay in touch!
Travelling with your best friend
One of my personal favourite things about backpacking is experiencing every minute of it with Joe. We’ve been together almost 5 years and in that time we’ve been to 33 countries together and its been an absolutely incredible experience-there is nobody I would rather be on this journey with (not even Leonardo Dicaprio!) I would never be able to navigate my way around, entertain myself or even begin to save money for this trip without him.
Seeing new countries
There is nothing more exciting when you’re on a plane, a train or bus to a new country. What is it going to be like? Am I going to like it? I wonder how expensive it’s going to be? Will it be better than my favourite country? There are so many questions going through your head, I feel like a child on Christmas morning looking at all of my unopened presents. I get so agitated and fidgety on the way to somewhere new, I can’t occupy myself for too long- I usually end up clock watching and I check maps.me every 2 minutes to see how long we have left as I just can’t wait to get there. Over 30 countries later, I still haven’t lost that feeling and honestly, it’s one of the best in the World so I hope I never do.
Experiencing new cultures
Although it can be pretty intimidating being somewhere so foreign, it’s also really interesting to see how other people in the world live. Sometimes you think ‘why don’t we do that in England?’ sometimes it’s pretty disgusting and most of the time it’s downright bizarre. People eat really strange things (Vietnam, I’m looking at you!), spit, burp and vomit on the street…and it’s not considered to be rude and wear pyjamas in public all day, every day- something that we should DEFINITELY do in the UK. It can be pretty strange but after a while you get used to the weirdness and you just see how friendly most locals are and how willing they are to share their culture and traditions with you, which can be pretty incredible.
England’s major downfall is its crappy weather- it’s always cold, drizzly and downright miserable. So it’s pretty awesome to wake up with stunning sunshine most of the time. I really believe that the weather affects my mood- I’m always grumpy in winter…and England’s Summer too, maybe I’m just grumpy?! But in all seriousness, it’s pretty hard to have a bad day when the sun is shining, you’re sat under a palm tree and you’re eating some fresh, tropical fruit. We’re pretty lucky in that sense.
On one hand it is devastating to be away from family for such an extended period of time but at the same time its nice to be completely independent. You learn to trust your own gut, your own instincts and you soon begin to realise that you can indeed do anything you set your mind to. You no longer have anybody to lean on (unless you’re travelling with a partner of course) and you make all of the important decisions in your life now with little or no input from others. It can be a little scary at first and sometimes I still feel like calling my mum or Joe’s parents to scream ‘HELP! What should we do?!’ but I’m getting better each day at not doing that. Even if you make the wrong choice, you live and you learn and next time (or the time after that) you’ll get there.
However much I miss a good English Sunday dinner, fat chips from the chippy and Supermarket bought Hummus, English cuisine isn’t all that great. Granted it’s a brilliant country for food- you can buy almost anything you get a craving for, which simply isn’t the case in some foreign countries. I ADORE food and am known to be a little greedy guts-if it’s vegan then I want to try all of it, simple as that. Whilst travelling Europe we tried some brilliant food…but eating out was too expensive to do regularly so we mostly cooked similar things we would at home. Asia is in a completely different ball game, eating out is so, so cheap here and the food is INCREDIBLE! As a vegan with a stomach condition I sometimes have to get a little creative and it can get a little tiring traipsing from one restaurant to another finding something suitable, but the end result is always, 100% worth it.
You can make a difference
It can be a real eye opener to explore destinations rife with poverty. At first, I was a little uncomfortable and wanted to leave, but I realised I needed to get out of my comfort zone and reminded myself that this is how some people are forced to live. Joe and I try to donate money to every worth while charity we come across; we buy Tshirts, small crafts or donate the little money we can afford to. It’s also fantastic to visit secluded, local villages and see the positive impact that tourism has had on their community; villages can now afford electricity, or to send their children to school. So even if you have a tiny budget and can’t afford to spend much, just know that you can make a difference whilst fulfilling your own dreams.
You never know what’s going to happen
Now Joe and I are more acquainted with the ins and outs of travelling, we don’t make any plans anymore. We decide where we want to go next completely off the cuff, mostly the day before we leave. It’s exciting not knowing what’s going to happen tomorrow, or even in an hour. Who knows what’s around the corner, whilst walking to the Supermarket you could run into a free music concert, a beer festival inside a grand palace or a dance show in the park. No matter how much you plan or create schedules, life always gets in the way and it’s an amazing feeling not knowing what’s coming.
You learn what’s really important
I am a completely different person when I’m at home to when I’m on the road-my priorities are completely different. At home, my naturally curly hair is NOWHERE to be seen, I have a full face of makeup and spend all of my money on the latest fashion trends. I’m not frugal-I will spend money on expensive things and spend a lot of time worrying about how I look. When you’re backpacking nobody cares how you look, you may think they do but they don’t. you could spend your time doing your hair or you could be out seeing the world, and besides your hairstyle won’t stay perfect once you’ve stepped into the heat and humidity outside. I can’t afford to buy new clothes so I’m stuck with wearing 3 sizes too big clothes and washing them in the sink, most of the time I can’t be bothered to shave my legs and I haven’t worn a scrap of makeup in 4 months. Honestly, I couldn’t care about any of that stuff right now…and it’s so liberating. Everyone is in the same boat as you so honestly, who cares!? (This will no doubt all change when I’ve settled somewhere, but for now I’m happy)
What’s your favourite things about backpacking? Let me know in the comments or contact me here!
Much love from wherever I am,