I discovered I’m not a backpacker while backpacking!
Let me start from the beginning. I am 29 years old, married, and na English teacher who started thinking that I reached that moment that “you either follow your dream now or you will never know if it would work”. I had to try. Actually we had to try. My husband was so stressed with work that it started to affect his health,
We have always dreamed of living abroad, so we started researching where we could go to start a new life; where we felt we would have more opportunities to do the things we loved. Long nights in front of the computer and a reasonable amount of money saving was how we started. What about missing our family if we moved to another country? I tried really hard not to think about that, I thought only “well, this will be a long trip”. I had to not think about family that much because it was one of the reasons I hadn’t tried to move abroad before I just couldn’t, I didn’t want to miss them. Oh and the family dogs?, gosh really pretend you will see them next weekend, otherwise, if you are like me, you won’t even go to the supermarket because you don’t want to leave them alone. Even despite the fact that they don’t live with me but with my parents and grandma.
I had the fortunate chance of taking my dual citizenship, so I did. My husband just had to come along we would legalize his residency once we arrive in our destination. That was when I had the incredible idea of why not going backpacking first, visit some contries and only then we rent an apartment and start working? Great! Let’s do this!
I had read and read dozens of articles and had watched and watched dozens of videos about backpacking. I thought I was more than ready to go on my adventure, did all my shopping, let go of many things, prepared all the necessary documentation, but real life is not always as seen on the Pinterest website.
Here’s how I discovered I’m not the backpacker type of traveller:
1. Packing your backpack is hard. Really hard. Especially for a first timer. And no matter how perfectly you think you have packed, you will miss things you didn’t pack and you will not use some things you did pack. This may leave you a little upset at times.
2. You live in a tropical country like Brazil and you go backpacking in Europe during spring. You will be cold. Winter clothes won’t fit all in your backpack. Decisions have to be made. Did I say you will be cold?
3. Walks to the train or subway station with a backpack, ok I was prepared for that. Under the rain? With a supermarket bag? Feeling cold? Did not think about that. You start feeling pains in your back, shoulders, legs, feet, lungs...well you do really have to be physically prepared and remember that if it rains, that’s just part of the adventure...though it sucks.
4. You got to pack an excellent towel for you to carry to your hostels and guest houses and that towel needs to dry fast. Though your hand washed clothes may not. And I knew that, I just didn’t think that I wouldn’t have that wonderful smell of fabric softner ever again.
5. This one is specially for the girls. Are you vain? Like doing your nails every week, blow drying your hair before you leave somewhere, using lotions and waxing? Forget all that! You cannot carry many items in your hand luggage in airplanes, that may leave you feeling kind of sloppy. If you’re thinking on going to a nail saloon after three weeks of backpacking...well that’s not very backpacker of you. I thought I wouldn’t miss these things after a month...turns out I did...a lot.
6. With a backpack you are only allowed to carry one heavy jacket, that means the one you will be wearing all the freaking time. This bothered me a little because I like to take pictures and I am wearing the same jacket everyday on every picture, hence the name of the blog.
7. Organization in your backpack is essential. Nothing to complain here. I may help you with this another time.
8. Gifts? You’re a backpacker now, no gifts!, there is not space to spare. Again, I knew that, but you see so many nice things you may want to buy but just won’t, backpacking is not that kind of trip. Although may feel liberating.
9. Do you like hot showers in clean bathrooms? Well, sometimes you just don’t have these luxuries, sometimes what you have is a moldy shower curtain touching your legs while you are having a luke warm shower.
10. What about going to bed tired at night to sleep with a comfy conforter? Well, many nights I wasn’t warm enough, didn’t know if the conforter had been washed, and the pillows...want a piece of advice? Carry your neck pillow, it may became your best friend.
All in all I still recommend you this type of traveling if you want to have the experience of backpacking. It’s a really different type of trip. Your focus will be completely different and you will understand that you can definitely pack less when packing wisely. Although I warn you about dirty bathrooms, cold beds, heavy luggage and the fact the boys and girls will be hairy and with huge cuticles during this time, it is something to which you will either say “I loved it” or “please, I need a hairdryer and to leave my luggage here while I go visiting some places”.
But, hey, I’ve done it! Now I know I am not one of those backpackers that wears everything they have, that can live many days without a shower, that take long walks with their bags on their backs. I am a backpacker that likes to save money, talk to locals, feel part of the place, know the less turist sites, but late at night, likes to take a hot shower and sleep in a confortable bed so the next morning I can put on my backpack or (now I know) use the rollers that it has and get to know I new city. I guess I have the mind of a backpacker, the body of a turist and the soul of an eternal world traveler!