I heard so many stories before I left for my first backpacking adventure, and so many people were telling me assumptions rather than facts. I’ve even met people that those assumptions have put them off from going backpacking. Here’s a few I heard before going, and they turned out to just be myths:
- Going backpacking on your own is lonely
False. You’ll meet friends that you’ll keep in touch with for years, if not, the rest of your life. I speak to some of my travelling buddies, more so than friends I hung about with throughout school. I’ve never felt lonely while travelling. You’re constantly surrounded by people that have the same mindset as you. What’s lonely, is coming home.
- All hostels are dirty and horrible
Some are, I’d be lying if I said they all aren’t. But most aren’t dirty and horrible, and are actually just as clean and modern as a hotel room. The only added bonus is you’re surrounded by lots of fun people to keep you company. I’ve stayed in a lot more bad hotel rooms, than I have hostels. Just do your research beforehand, ask people where they’ve stayed and you’ll end up in some sweet places.
- Travelling is expensive
It’s not cheap, but it’s certainly not as expensive as people assume it’s going to be. A £4 a night hostel, is definitely cheaper than that £400 a month apartment back home. A lot of people are put off from going travelling, thinking it’s going to cost them a fortune, because holidays do. Holidays are very different from travelling, and they are completely two different things. Don’t mix the two up.
- Backpacking alone, as a female, isn’t safe
In some places it isn’t safe, but on the whole, backpacking as a solo female is pretty safe. Just don’t do anything you wouldn’t at home, and you’ll be sweet. If a weird guy is pestering you, let somebody know. If someone is offering you a free lift, don’t just assume they’re being nice. Don’t go the shortcut home at night, which requires walking down empty dark alleyways or streets. Trust nobody, and if something doesn’t feel right, trust your gut instinct and get out of the situation, quickly but safely. So many women are put off travelling, thinking it’s impossible on their own and they need a man with them. It’s no more unsafe than it is for a man on his own in most places. Just do your research about the places you’re visiting beforehand.
- University is better for your future than travelling
Something I got drilled into me from a young age. And when I said I thought I wanted to go travelling instead of University, I got told to choose University because it was supposedly better for my future. Personally, it’s one of my biggest regrets. I wasted four years of travelling time. I’ve had friends pass away, and I could have easily have been one of them. I’d of died doing something I hated, rather than something I loved. Life is short. University is a waste of time in my eyes these days. I’m in no better position now than I was four years ago, even with a piece of paper in my hand, and most of my University friends will agree. It’s way too over rated. I’ve met people, while travelling, who are on their gap years before starting University, and they’ve been debating whether to go back to University. I’ve told every single one, if it’s even an option they’re considering, go with the travelling answer. I wish I had started travelling while I was younger. Listen to your elders!
- It’s only for young people
I’ve met all ages while travelling. My biggest surprise was when I met people that were in their 50’s and 60’s, and they were backpacking and staying in hostels and going out on booze cruises with us “young’uns”. They had done the cliche routine of marriage and kids, and still felt like something was missing, so went travelling to see the world. They were having the same experience I was, as a 24 year old. Age is just a number. If you have the right mindset, there is nothing stopping you.
- You can’t speak their language, so you’ll struggle
I’m useless with languages, but try to speak the basics, such as hello, thank you, etc. I even failed my German GCSE and Italian module at University and have never had any issues. The good thing is most countries speak English as a second language. If you can speak English, you’ll pretty much get on anywhere.
- If you go backpacking, you’ll turn into a dirty hippie
Personally, I don’t understand the modern hate towards a “hippie” and second of all, hostels do have showers. It’s in no way dirty. If you choose to not have a shower, that’s up to you. But if you don’t want to become a “dirty hippie,” all you have to do is take a shower. They do have them in every country, it’s not an impossible task! It also goes back to point 2, of not all hostels are dirty and horrible.
If you’re considering going backpacking, but are being put off by the myths, don’t be! It’s like with anything else, if someone else tells you a city is really crap, but you think it looks awesome on pictures, you’ll still likely visit it? It’s the same with backpacking. Different people, different views. Some people will have tried backpacking and hated it. Most people end up falling in love, and never returning home. There’s a reason so many people have the travel bug. Experience it for yourself, and you’ll soon realise, like I did, that those stories are all myths.