Things you learn from your First Backpacking Trip

Backpacking is the type of travel where everything that you are carrying in your travel is inside a single/multiple backpack(s). Backpacking is the travellers’ way of travelling where you can move from one place to another freely and you usually do not plan much ahead.

It is true that when you start out – your first backpacking trip – you tend to have a lot of fear, anxiety about the journey ahead but once you complete it, you become a whole new person. As for myself, I saw myself change into a better man – who is more confident, less scared of new people, got my stammering under control (for those who have met me recently, you will not know but I had a pretty bad stammering but this travelling did help me a lot in controlling that) – the first backpacking trip taught me a lot about myself and how to deal with certain situations. But keeping aside all my personal aspects, here are a few of the things that you will surely learn after your first backpacking trip –

You definitely don’t need all the stuff that you have with you

When it comes to packing stuff ahead of travelling, we usually pack up a lot of things that we think we might need but never actually pulling it out of our bags. As for me, I was lucky because I took a cheap flight to Vietnam which meant that I could carry only 7 KGs of stuff (my bag alone weighed 1.5 KG). So I had to strip down every belonging that I thought I might need and ended up wearing all my clothes for my flight as the combined weight all my electronics was 6.7 KG. But the sad part is, the flight attendants never checked the weight – which pissed me off big time. Nevertheless, I learnt that I didnt need my GoPro, I didnt need all those spare cables, I didnt need all those soaps and shampoos and the other stuff. I never pulled them out and used what I got in the hostels and the homestays where I stayed.

There are people who are crazier than you can even imagine

You may think you are the backpacker that is crazy enough to leave everything and went to a place to do cheap travel and spend a few weeks in a place – but you end up meeting people who have been travelling for the last 7 years, worked as a crewman in a ship, havent spent a single penny on accommodation for years, been walking across countries, been hitch-hiking across countries, etc. You learn so much from them and you see how little you have actually done. That gives a huge inspiration for your future travels

Media is shit and there are good people everywhere

We always have this pre-notion about people from certain areas or communities or tribes that they are bad and we should not mingle with them. Well guess what – like 99% of them are fake and are results of media houses playing their cards to make you believe what they want you to believe. When you backpack and travel, you learn how different the whole scenario is. As an example, when people think of India, they usually think about Taj Mahal, Delhi, Bangalore, Kerela, etc but rarely people have this notion that we also have the North Eastern states that are far less touristy and natural than most of the other places. I have met people from all over the world and all I got was smile, curiosity, hugs, laughter and more laughter, friends, everywhere. When we backpack, we see that everyone is the same.

You are stronger than you think you are

I did a 3 months backpacking trip in Vietnam. I never travelled before. I learnt that I am stronger than I ever imagined myself. So will you. When you are backpacking, when you have to go from one place to the next with the cheapest option possible, you will choose to walk. And no matter how much you have walked before – you never walked with a big backpack but in trying so, you will see that you actually could do it. You never knew that before. Same goes with food habits, weather conditions etc. When at home, you get sick easily but when you are backpacking and you cant stay down for long, you will see that you are strong enough to get up and head on your way because there will be no one to take care of you, bring you medicines, or bananas etc. You will be responsible of yourself and you will see that you are stronger than you thought you were.

It is okay to get lost

Getting lost is a scary thing – especially when you are in a foreign land but you will see that it is not a bad thing. When you get lost, when you get out of the touristy places, you will see a whole new world, a world that is not shown in the media, a world that is not spoken of too much. When you get lost, you see the place as it actually is. You see new places, new people, new cultures. It is actually okay to get lost.

You are more confident in life than you ever were

This goes similar to being stronger in life. When you backpack, especially when you are not being directed by some tour guide in every single step, you have to be push yourself out of your comfort zone to talk to new people, to explore new places, to find and catch a bus, etc. You have to take the step and when you do that regularly, you will end up becoming more confident in every step that you take.

You start appreciating the small things in life

Backpacking is a way where you usually ditch all the fancy places and things and start depending on the basic things so that you can get the real picture of the place. When you are backpacking with little amount, you start appreciating the things that we always tend to ignore or take for granted. Say for example, we always take our bed for granted. We love being on our cosy bed but when you are travelling and you haven’t had a good sleep for the past few days on a regular sized bed, the moment you get one, it is heaven. Same goes with a good shower. When you are travelling and you actually haven’t had a good bath in a few days, the moment you get a good shower, you will know how lucky we usually are; when you are backpacking, you tend to skip meals – it can be to save time or money or both and when you get a good meal, you will appreciate it; a local might come up to you to show you direction to a place, etc. It is these little things that matter in life and we start experiencing and appreciating them once we start backpacking.

You learn not to be picky – you learn to adjust

We are usually picky with a lot of things like food, bed, AC, etc but when you are backpacking and you are thinking of saving a few bucks by staying in a bus station rather than a hotel, you cant be choosy about what you want and what you don’t. In addition to appreciating things in life, you also learn how to adjust with the little things that you have. After your first backpacking trip, you will see how easy it is to adjust if we make up our minds.

You dont care what you look like

Backpackers look ugly and we stink. Don’t come near a backpacker, especially when the backpack is on. When you are backpacking, you start caring less about how you look because you learn that these mean so little in the whole journey that lies ahead. No one has the time to judge you. And even if they do judge you, in two days you will be forgotten. So why bother? Just stay clean – if thats possible – and move on. My whole Vietnam consisted of 3 t-shirts, one shorts, one long pant, and a few pair of underwear. Thats it. I didnt buy any clothes there – nor I needed any.

You finally know what freedom is

When you backpack, you learn the meaning of the word freedom – literally. We are always in the illusion of freedom but we are always trapped in a lot of responsibilities and stuff. But when you are backpacking, you learn that you are free – free to go anywhere – free to do anything – free to meet anyone – free to travel with anyone – free to take any road not taken – free like you want to be. Backpacking frees us from boundaries. Backpacking frees our minds from all the misconceptions that are prevalent in our minds.

What did you learn in your first backpacking trip? Add more if you have any.
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Special thanks to Fabrizio Verrecchia for the image that is used as the thumbnail for this post. 

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