Is ‘Backpacking’ for me?

Now that you know (kinda, sorta...) what ‘Backpacking’ is, you may be wondering, ‘Is it for ME?’ Well, if you found yourself getting even a little excited by simply reading the ‘What is ‘Backpacking’?’ page, a tingle of anticipation running up your spine, then chances are, it is... As we mentioned there- backpackers literally come from ANYWHERE and EVERYWHERE, each with a different reason for being out on the Backpacker’s Trail. If you’ve got a sense of adventure, a desire to see new places and experience new cultures, a fascination for the unknown, a craving to meet new people and try new things, and are fairly flexible when it comes to how you travel and where you stay, then get excited- you’re IN!

But, before you get carried away, a couple of important notes here:

We've said it before, and we'll say it again- Backpacking is NOT 'easy'. A lot of our friends like to say 'Your whole LIFE is a vacation...' HA! If only... While we would agree with the notion that the Backpacking Life is pretty sweet, nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, backpacking often involves traveling to exotic locales in foreign countries where fun is had and memories are made, but it is also WORK- often HARD WORK. If you're traveling alone, YOU get to play the roles of Trip Organizer, Daily Planner, Luggage Porter, Tour Guide, Head Chef, Photographer, Security Detail, Translator, and Tourist (among several others)- EVERY. DAY. For some people, that's exciting. For others, it can be a lot to take on. Warrants mentioning.

It is also important to be honest and note that backpacking is NOT for everyone. If you have a rigid personality, are someone who has to have everything go EXACTLY as planned, can’t imagine the thought of an overnight bus ride or a day spent on a rickety train, or refuse to sleep in a hostel or cook for yourself, then you might want to consider a different style of travel. Backpacking can often require immense amounts of flexibility, patience, and self-restraint- even total resignation in some cases- as you will inevitably come across situations and circumstances that don’t line up with your assumptions or expectations- sometimes with no explanation whatsoever. These are the moments that demand flexibility, and an understanding that you’re in a foreign country- things are just different. Honestly, there are few things worse than a whingy backpacker pulling out the ridiculous-yet-all-to-often-used ‘In my country...’ card- HELLO- YOU ARE IN A DIFFERENT COUNTRY. Get over yourself, suck it up, and get on with it. This is a lesson best learned quickly when setting out on a backpacking trip.

‘Hope for the best, but expect the worst’ and ‘It’s all part of the experience’ are mantras of the backpacker. ‘Hope for the best/expect the worst’ so that no matter what happens, you can’t be let down or disappointed (and are thus typically pleasantly surprised), and ‘It’s all part of the experience’ to help keep things in perspective during your trip. Backpacking itself IS an experience- buses break down, trains are late, people in your dorm snore, it even rains on the beach sometimes (GASP!)- despite the rough spots, it’s always helpful to remember that ‘It’s all part of the experience’, and know that you’ll probably be laughing about the current situation in a day, a week, a month. In the end, that is the essence of 'Backpacking'- the unknowns, the unplanned, and the unforeseen- that's where the ADVENTURE lies, where the best stories always come from. Still- If this doesn’t sound like something you would be capable of or enjoy, then backpacking probably isn’t for you.

That being said, if you’ve read through all of this and feel that the ‘backpacking’ style of travel fits- that you’ve got an adventurous personality that goes hand-in-hand, or, conversely, don’t, and want to challenge and stretch yourself- then GET EXCITED!  New friends, incredible experiences, and amazing adventures in the far-flung corners of the world await!

Buckle your seatbelt, and get ready for the ride of your life...

At the airport in Kathmandu...

Next Course: Why should I go?