It seems everyone nowadays is embarking on some sort of backpacking trip – be it a month, 6 months or those who plan on never returning to the 9-5 grind again. Some wish they had done it when they were younger, some only dream about it, others get up and just go for it.
Me? I decided to go. Was I prepared? No. Do I regret one bit? No. Was it what I imagined? No. But it was better.
My trip was spread across two months and I visited Thailand, Vietnam, Bali and ended with friends in Barcelona.
Travelling on Facebook appears to be pretty glamorous. A constant stream of beautiful beach shots and people jumping out of planes. I remember sitting at my work desk daily during the months before my trip, practically drooling at the world that was waiting for me.
What facebook and travel blogs fail to mention is that you may have a 12 hour bus journey where you legs are slowly being crippled and the air con is turning you blue.
Or that you may have to arrive somewhere new at 4am and have to sleep on a bean bag on a roof terrace while you wish for the 2pm check in time to hurry the fuck up. (after being mugged, may I add)
How about being in a hostel where in one night a guy next to you falls from his top bunk, a drunk couple have sex next to you (literally… the beds almost touched,) and a guy shits his pants?
Or that you may have to sit on an unshaded pier, with your heavy pack, waiting for a boat that’s 3 hours delayed in 38 degree heat when you forgot to apply sun tan lotion.
I hadn’t heard any of these stories before I left, and despite probably sounding off putting to those reading, I am glad I experienced every single one. (and trust me, there’s loads more…)
I’d relive every single moment over again if I was given the opportunity, because the lows become apart of your journey, they become a story you tell people, something you learn to laugh about. It’s what makes your story different to others. These moments taught me patience. To chill the fuck out and enjoy the present. They taught me that not everyone is a miserable Londoner and how to make the most of every second even when it’s bloody tough to.
When you’ve finally reached the bottom of a mountain after a 4 hour hike in the heat with only 1 bottle of water, you appreciate the beautiful scenery ten times more.
When you grab a bowl of street food from a local after having nothing but oreos* for 21 hours, you appreciate every bite.
*FYI, Coconut oreos changed my life.
When you’re snorkelling through crystal clear water, hand feeding tropical fish, you forget all about your sunburn, or gashed up knee that’s stinging (thanks motor bike crash.)
Every time you wake up early and can wander 5 minutes to the beach for sunrise, your hangover isn’t as crippling as you first thought.
And most importantly for me, every time you meet someone new and laugh with them, you no longer look at what you don’t have, but realise what you do have.
I paid for every element of my trip and my budget wasn’t huge. I only did hostels, long boats and buses, cheap flights with millions of stop overs and ate from the locals. I’ll begin blogging again, mainly about my trip and how to do it on a budget, but in the meantime, if you have any questions about backpacking, drop me a line!