Backpacking is an interesting concept. You pack a bag and you leave your family, friends and the world you know, all to explore the world you don’t. Some travel for a month, while others travel for a year. Some don’t ever stop traveling.
This concept used to be owned solely by the young. The high-school graduates not yet sure what to do with their lives. The college graduates taking time off before beginning their adult lives. The misfits and lost souls, searching for the meaning of life. However, today it is becoming more and more common for people of all ages to take a break from life and experience the worry free life of backpacking, road tripping and world traveling.
So how does one simply pack a bag and leave? How does he manage alone? Well, traveling in a new part of the world is without a doubt something that everyone should experience sometime during their lives, as long as it is done correctly. Here are a few tips that will help you take the first step of your journey, one of many steps to come.
Before you can begin your adventure, you have to plan and prepare the general details. Choose a region that intrigues you. If you’re looking for nature, hikes and breathtaking views, try South America or Southeast Asia. If you’re looking to meet interesting new people and experience new cultures and cities, maybe a cross-country American road trip or a hitchhiking Euro-trip is up your alley. The beauty of backpacking is that you’re free; free from worries or expectations, free from itinerary and free to do as you wish. So just choose a region, make a general plan of when you’ll travel, how long you can travel for and places that are important for you to visit. Check the weather of the season you’ll be traveling, as you probably don’t wont to travel during the wet season or the heart of winter. Plan a budget – nothing too detailed, but you don’t want to spend it all in your first week abroad.
But don’t over-plan
Be prepared to improvise. No matter how much you plan, things won’t always go your way. Instead of getting stressed, or upset, over the unexpected change of plans, embrace them and embrace the unknown. From my experience, the best stories are the ones that start off with spontaneity, improvisation and taking a leap of faith into the unknown. So in order to truly experience your backpacking journey to the fullest, it is important to accept the fact that you can’t control it all, and that releasing control will probably help you enjoy the adventure even more.
Keep an open mind
One of the most challenging aspects of backpacking in a new region is the vast differences between what you are used to and what is placed in front of you at that certain moment. It could be the food, the environment, the language or just the overall culture. Change can be hard, and being open to new and different can be difficult. That’s why it is important to keep an open mind and accept the odd, learn to love the peculiar and embrace the weird. Challenge yourself to try something new every day. Sleep in a hostel. Eat a fried grasshopper. Ride a donkey. Whatever it may be, I’m sure that you’ll regret not trying it, and cherish the moment you decided to give it a go. Be open to meeting new friends along the path. Backpacking alone certainly doesn’t mean that you have to be lonely. When you reach a new destination, feel free to meet other backpackers and share your experiences together. Face your fears. If you don’t jump out of a plane, hold a snake or go swimming with sharks while you’re on your backpacking journey, you probably never will. So cease the opportunity, live in the moment and simply say yes.
Memories may last forever, but pictures will definitely help
Last but not least, capture everything. Don’t be afraid to look like a cliché tourist with a camera strapped around your neck. Photograph everything, from the people you meet to the food you eat and the views you see. Trust me, you’ll definitely want to have those pictures to share with others when you get back home. And even more so, you’ll curse every moment that you forgot to take your camera along for the ride. And while it is important to capture these moments, it is equally important to remember that this experience is probably once-in-a-lifetime. So forget about Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and the amount of likes you got on every upload. Enjoy the moment, live the experience and abandon social media until you get back home.
Now, you should be ready to go pack your bag and catch a flight to your dream destination. And remember, enjoy it while it lasts! Good luck with your adventure…