To someone who has never been backpacking before, I believe there is a common misconception that a backpacker has “fun” all the time. You know… one day, you decided to quit your job, packed all your belongings in a rucksack and now travel the world, partying, meeting new people and having the time of your life. The photos look great, the videos are funny and all your new friends post inside jokes, or comment “you had to be there”.
Regardless of what it looks like, you might come across more than one bad day while travelling, and realise backpacking is much more different than you’d expected.
The challenges that come with backpacking are not the same as the ones you come across in everyday life:
- Being In A New Country – You may come across language or cultural barriers you weren’t expecting, which can be very daunting when you start backpacking. Not to mention, a dramatic time change when arriving!
- Moving Around Every Few Days – As exciting as it is to be in a new place all the time, constant moving around is exhausting. It might be a while before you feel settled again, and even that could only be for a short amount of time.
- Goodbye Savings – When on the road, you may have no income at all, and have to watch helplessly as your money dwindles. If you’re like me, you find yourself living off $0.50 noodles for a month in order to afford that dream excursion or upgrade to a private room.
- The Backpack Holds Your Entire Life – Have you ever tried living in a backpack!? You have to choose carefully and take into consideration: how it fits, how big it is, how much you can pack into it, if its comfortable… You’ll have to literally carry it around everywhere you go and hope it doesn’t get stolen. Everything is in that one bag: your clothes, shoes, electronics, souvenirs, toiletries, passport, money… It’s a scary concept, and you always have to be cautious!
- You Live With Strangers – Hostel life is not for everyone, and sometimes you need your own space. Can you imagine sharing a bedroom with 9 other strangers, every night? They all come and go at their own pace. It’s luck of the draw when it comes to your roommates, you never know what type of backpackers you’ll encounter until you’re through the door.
I’m still learning all the struggles of backpacking, and it frustrates me when family/friends think it’s so easy. I’ve cried because I missed home, when I wasn’t feeling well, because I feel like I’m running out of money, or when my backpack was too heavy and my body was exhausted. I’ve been frustrated when lost, or that time no one in the hostel wanted to talk with me and please, don’t even get me started on hostel “free wifi”.
Truthfully, Matt and I spend a lot of time researching and working with the budget to be able to afford our travel lifestyle, and yet still, a lot of the times we aren’t able to do everything we want.
Not every day will be an adventure. Backpacking is hard work and you have to take each day as it comes. Enjoy every experience! Just remember:
- As a backpacker, it’s ok to want to stay in bed or do absolutely nothing
- As a backpacker, it’s ok to be homesick and tell your family how you feel
- As a backpacker, it’s ok to ask others for help
- As a backpacker, it’s ok to splash out and treat yourself
When that bad day has pushed you to your limit and you’re thinking of returning home, think of how you felt when you first booked that plane ticket and were eager to get out and see the world!
You aren’t alone when feeling down, everyone goes through this when backpacking. It’s part of the experience, and you will overcome it! Turning back or quitting after one bad day (or even a few bad days) might be something you regret for the rest of your life. Call someone who knows you really well, or maybe take a walk alone in the sunshine, read a book or watch a bad movie in bed. The day will end, and tomorrow can be anything you want it to be!
If you ever want to talk about your bad day or to simply chat and exchange travel stories, we’re only ever a message away!