A lot of my friends always say they don’t know how I do it. They couldn’t imagine themselves slumming it in a hostel, living out of a backpack, being so far away from home, and so far away from family. The honest truth is, I thought I was going to hate it, and it ended up becoming an addiction. So if you think you’re not cut out for the backpacker lifestyle, you might just surprise yourself.
My first experience of a hostel was a university trip to Paris. I booked onto the trip without knowing that we were staying in a hostel. When I found out we were, I regretted it instantly, and was massively dreading it! I ended up loving the experience. The hostel was better than some hotels I’ve stayed in, and it’s definitely more social. I met loads of lovely people that I’m still in touch with years later, and that’s how I caught the travel bug. There are a few things I always say to my friends, that if they are the following, they’ll probably settle in just fine to the backpacker life, and end up loving it!
- YOU’RE INDEPENDENT
If you’re quite independent, you’ll be fine travelling. There’s nothing more independent than living in a foreign country, where they don’t speak your language, and you have to organise everything yourself, from eating to sleeping arrangements!
- YOU LIKE TO KEEP BUSY
If you don’t like to sit around do nothing with your weekends, and you like to get out and about, then backpacking is definitely for you. You can literally do anything if you put your mind to it. Go skydiving, go hiking, go surfing, go snowboarding, go exploring the local markets or temples…the world is your oyster!
- YOU SEE THE POSITIVE IN THINGS
Something I learnt about myself travelling is that I have quite a positive outlook on things, even if they’re negative. Something I never realised about myself! If you have a negative mind about everything, you won’t last 2 minutes travelling. When you’re having a bad day, or you’ve had some bad luck, you need to see the silver lining, or you’re going to talk yourself into going home pretty quick.
- YOU LIKE TO MEET NEW PEOPLE
If you’re quite a sociable person, that loves to meet new people, then there’s no better place to do it than in a hostel.
- BUT YOU ALSO ENJOY ALONE TIME
If the thought of being alone drives you crazy, then you’re going to hate travelling. There will be some nights when the hostels are pretty quiet so there’s not many people to socialise with, and there will be some places where the people you meet, you just don’t get on with. It happens. It does get lonely, but not in a bad way. I actually love those moments, because it gives me chance to plan what I want to do next, where I want to go, and just have a little relaxation time, which is important when you’re on the road.
- YOU DON’T CARE WHAT OTHERS THINK OF YOU
If you don’t care what others think, then you’ll love backpacking. There’s no fakeness (well most of the time). You’ll meet the odd person that tries to be a people pleaser, but most of the time, the people you’ll meet travelling will be the most genuine. You can’t care what others think of you when travelling, for the main reason you’ll meet all kinds of people. There will be people that won’t share your beliefs, or agree with how you do things, but that’s life. If you don’t let these things get to you, then you’ll be fine travelling.
- YOU’RE NOT FAKE
This sounds a silly one, but if you’re fake, you’ll soon get rooted out when backpacking, so it’s better to just be yourself. If you revolve your life around the materialistic things, such as having the latest phone, or not being able to leave the house without fake nails, make up and hair extensions, then you ain’t going to find backpacking pretty. I used to think I couldn’t leave the house without make up and I needed my hair extensions in all the time. I went travelling, and I went months without wearing make up, and my friends were surprised back home when they saw me without hair extensions on the pictures on facebook. But then it goes back to point 6, of really not giving a crap! If you’ve edited your facebook profile picture to the point you don’t actually look like you, then you’re going to get rooted out while travelling. People will say how it is.
- YOU’RE NOT STUCK UP
Hostels aren’t 5 star hotels, they are what they are. See the positive in things such as it’s costing you £3-£5 a night, and you’re meeting people that you’ll be friends with for life, and you’ll learn new things from. It’s a bed and a roof for the night, you’re only going to be sleeping there anyway. It goes back to point 3. I’ve met stuck up people while travelling, and they always come across that they haven’t seen as much, haven’t done as much, and in general aren’t having as much fun. You’re all in the same boat when travelling. Nobody is better than anybody else! If you ain’t afraid to get your hands dirty, then you’ll be fine travelling.
- YOU’RE FAIRLY ORGANISED
People think you have to be super organised to go travelling, and the truth is, you don’t. You can wing some things, and get away with it. I’m quite an organised person, so can’t speak for myself. But I’ve met people on my travels and I’m just like “how the hell have you made it this far on your own?!” But they have, so it’s possible. If you’re capable of booking a flight ticket yourself, then you can cope fine travelling.
- YOU APPRECIATE THE LITTLE THINGS
There’s more to life than going out and getting drunk every weekend. When you go travelling you’ll learn to appreciate the little things, but if you already do, you’ll be in your element!
My honest opinion is that I think everyone should experience backpacking at least once in their life. Even if it’s just for two weeks. People moan that people go travelling and come back banging on about how travelling has changed them, but it really does. The only way to understand that is to experience it yourself. So what are you waiting for, get out there, see the world and get exploring. You won’t regret it!