After nine years on the road, Emma has discovered there are some types of people who aren't cut out for it. Are you one of them?
A big around-the-world trip isn't for everyone. Some people pack up and head off on a year long backpacking voyage, and, three weeks into the trip, are already booking their return ticket home. The fact is, not everyone is cut out to hack the testing and gruelling nature of long-term travel.
It’s sad but true that there are just some types of people who won’t last the distance as a long-term backpacker. Are you one of them?
Flights get cancelled, trains are delayed, natural disasters happen – your original travel plans will change, and if you can’t stand change and uncertainty, you probably won’t last long on the road.
This person has been dreaming of packing up and hitting the road for years, but when they do finally go, it’s just not as peachy as they imagined it to be. The buses are longer and more cramped. The hostels are grubbier, the food too unfamiliar. Have realistic expectations before you start backpacking and know that life on the road is far from a bed of roses.
When you encounter new countries and cultures you’ll be faced with people doing things in a way that you aren’t necessarily used to. So if you’re the type of person who will go ahead and wear a sleeveless top in a country where this isn’t respected, you won’t cut it as a long-term traveller.
Travelling is far from a smooth road. Bumps occur, sometimes lots of them. You need a positive attitude, and to be able to see the funny side of things. Trust me, when you find yourself on yet another 24 hour bus ride you’ll need to pack your sense of humour!
We all get homesick when travelling – that’s natural. But the person who just can’t let go of how things were at home and constantly compares them to how things are on the road will never be a happy traveller. You won’t get a comfy bed or home cooked meals – it’s better to get used to that idea sooner rather than later.
Long flights and boat rides, wrong dinner orders when the waitress found you hard to understand – travelling requires a lot of patience. If you don’t have any, you certainly won’t cut it as a backpacker.
Travelling is all about being spontaneous, and going with the flow. Last minute plans are sometimes the best ones. Spontaneity is definitely the spice of the backpacker life.
Backpackers are usually people who value experiences rather than “stuff” who, when they come into money think “where can I go with this” rather than “what can I buy?” If you’re someone who values money over memories, you probably won’t enjoy the frugal life of a backpacker...
Backpacking isn’t about only having an open mind to the new cultures you’re encountering it’s also about having an open mind to the other travellers that you meet along the way – the people you meet are often what will make your journey so memorable.
If you are someone who boasts about all of the places you’ve visited to the newbie traveller, or about all of the money you still have to the person who is eating pot noodles for dinner for the fifth night on the trot then you likely won’t make many new friends... and that really is the best part about backpacking.
Emma is a backpacker who has spent the past nine years travelling. She runs Backpacking Spirit, a website full of inspiration and advice for those thinking of grabbing a pack and seeing the world.