Full disclosure: I’ve been fortunate enough to go backpacking around the world on three separate occasions in the last four years.
The first trip spanned a six-month period from 2014 to 2015, the second consisted of eight months from 2016 to 2017 and the third was a month-long tour around Thailand in early 2017.
Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot from this amount of travelling. But most of all, I’ve learned some amusing backpacking secrets that you’re unable to relate to unless you’ve been there yourself.
1. Wifi is like gold dust. If you’re not specifically choosing restaurants, bars and cafes because they offer free wifi then you’re totally doing it wrong.
2. Using a squat toilet is an interesting experience. There’s a 99.9999% chance that you’ll pee on yourself. It’s best to go into it accepting this.
3. Speaking of toilets, you’re just going to have to get used to doing a number two in public ones.
When you’re out all day doing activities all over the town to make the most of being there, there’s no way you can afford the time to head back to your hotel to take a dump. Sorry.
4. For some reason, in various budget hotels, the shower heads are halfway down the wall in the wet rooms.
Be prepared to have to bend your head backwards as if you’re doing some strange sort of bathroom limbo dance in order to be able to wash your hair. (I am five foot eleven for goodness sake, give a gal a chance!)
5. In some Southeast Asian countries, your plug adapter won’t fit into the wall plug sockets properly. This means that charging your phone is practically impossible as it keeps falling out!
Say hello to 5% phone battery, your new best friend.
6. Carting your backpack around in 30 degree heat is like slow torture. ONE LIMB AT A TIME.
7. You will inevitably spill something down yourself on the first day and then you’ll have to spend the rest of your time backpacking in dirty clothes.
It’s grimy, it’s sweaty and it’s less-than-ideal, but it’s all part of the experience!
8. You’ll spend a good amount of time at the sink in your hostel or hotel room cleaning your dirty underwear because you’ve ran out of clean ones… YET AGAIN!
And it won’t be long before you realise that Fairy soap is like magic! Seriously.
9. If you’re travelling to Thailand, for example, you will get bitten a ton by mosquitoes.
And then you have to deal with the itching all day every day, as well as all night every night while you’re trying to sleep… OH LORD, the itching!
Tiger Balm will become your saviour.
10. You will get what they call “Dehli belly” at least one point in your trip. This is where your stomach is trying to adjust to new ways of cooking and different water systems – and it inevitably gets upset.
And if you’re particularly unlucky, your bowels will be upset too. Your poor toilet.
All jokes aside, backpacking is one of the most enriching, fulfilling and – quite frankly – LIFE-CHANGING experiences you’ll ever have.
You’ll appreciate your own country and home comforts more than ever following a stint with your backpack.
And it’ll make you realise that we all have much to be thankful for.
I always enjoy my backpacking experiences as it’s good to be out of your comfort zone and do things that scare you, but I also very much enjoy coming home.
Because there’s no place like home, right?
Have you been backpacking before? What did you learn? Let me know!