When talking about backpacking, chances are you’ll be hearing stories about how amazing it was, how travelling gives you so much freedom, how awesome it is to meet new people etc. Sounds about right?
Well, all of those things are true, but there are three things people don’t tell you about backpacking.
1. Arranging stuff days
It’s fun to plan your holidays, to figure out where you want to go and what you want to do. Sometimes, these things collide. I’ve had days where it just felt all I did was arrange stuff. Booking a bus, booking a ferry, revising my travel plan, picking out a hostel, lucking out and picking out another, looking into a tour to do etc. I would get really restless and bored, because all I wanted was ‘to do cool stuff’.
I decided I needed to do something about it, so when I have a lot of stuff to arrange, I just call it ‘a day to arrange stuff’. I’ll make a list of things I need to get done before the day is over. It’s far easier for me to accept it this way and in the end I’ll be happy to have things sorted out. I can relax the next day and enjoy the fruits of my ‘arranging stuff labour’. Works every time! 🙂
2. Travel weary
After a few months on the road, during my first big travel to Australia, I started to feel meh. I didn’t understand where it was coming from, until someone explained to me that after a few months, you get travel weary. The initial newness and excitement has worn off, but you’re nowhere close to going home to your trusted environment. You’re sort of in between. What this person said, made sense to me and I could deal with it a lot better knowing that eventually even travel weariness will wear off.
I’ve learnt to accept that it’s just part of the world of a traveller and that every few months you just get a bit of a dip. But that dip will pass. Just plan something fun to do and you’ll be fine!
3. Fellow travellers
Meeting new people and sharing a room can be fun. How many times haven’t I ended up chatting with people in the room, watching a movie together or cooking together. Those are the good times! I’ve also met people during my travels and kept in touch over the years. So cool!
There are also not so good times. One time I stayed at a hostel that I really didn’t like to begin with. My two roomies decided it was okay to bring a guy over to stay the night (just sleeping) in the room illegally. It was very uncomfortable and I couldn’t wait to travel on. Sometimes people felt the need to rearrange their backpack at 6 AM. Not even to leave, but…but why even? Plastic bags make a lot of noise! I’ve had people blow up in my face because I politely asked ‘how long do you think you’re going to read?’ (at that time it was 2 AM). I’ve had people put the lights back on all through the night on purpose just to mess with me.
The good thing is that you can do something about it! I’ve gone down to the reception on a few occasions explaining the situation and if I could please relocate to another room. Relocating was never a problem. I didn’t feel the need to get into a discussion with the anti-social people nor to have my travels ruined by people I didn’t know or care about. I just removed myself from the situation and went my own way.
These days I prefer staying at small, homey hostels with a friendly atmosphere and I try to avoid the big ‘backpacker factories’ as much as possible. I also treat myself to a private room every once in a while, just to have some alone time. It really helps keep spirits up and keep travelling fun!
Maybe that’s just how the human mind works. We like to remember the good times and forget about the bad times. When you’re no longer in the place or with the people that upset you, it’s easier to let it go.
As with daily life, sometimes when you travel you’ll find yourself in situations that you don’t want to be in. I’m sure that many travellers have gained experience the hard way with the three points mentioned above. Remember that you’re the director of your own backpacking adventure. Keep enjoying yourself, stand up for yourself and stay shiny!