Traveling is all about learning new things, both about yourself and the world. If you’ve ever been backpacking for a longer time, you know what I mean. Traveling can be both incredibly frustrating and wonderful at the same time. But for the most part, the good times weigh over the bad times. Backpacking for the first time is a great learning experience though and once you get the hang of it, you’ll never want to travel in a different way. Here are the 10 things everyone learns on their first backpacking trip.
1. You’ve probably overpacked
The first time you’re packing for a longer trip is probably the hardest. It’s difficult to predict what exactly you need and don’t need. There are many lists on the internet, but in the end, it all depends on where you’re going, which seasons and what you’re planning on doing. So it’s easy to overpack because you just want to bring everything “just in case”. The thing with packing everything is that you also have to carry it around. This can get really tough if you have to walk a lot with your heavy backpack. The best thing to do is to pack as lightly as possible. Do you really need that many t-shirts? Will you really wear those extra shoes you’re bringing? Remember, you can almost always buy whatever you’re missing abroad.
2. You can trust strangers
Since we were children, we’re told to not trust strangers. Although that’s smart advice, you’ll be surprised after traveling for the first time that most people mean well. If you’re lost, don’t hesitate to ask strangers for help. Trust your gut intuition though, if it feels shady then it probably is. But you’ll be shocked by how many people in this world who just wants to genuinely help you and make sure that you’re okay. Who knows, maybe you’ll even get a friend or two along the way.
3. Everyone gets lost and so will you
Perhaps your cell phone ran out of battery and you don’t have google maps to rely on anymore, or you simply took the wrong metro. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there! It’s easy to get lost in a place you’ve never visited before, especially if it’s a massive city.
4. You will get exhausted
Backpacking is tough. Your body will be completely exhausted because of all the long flights, sleepless nights, unhealthy food, boozy nights, food poisons, etc. Your body will have to cope with a lot of new things, all at the same time. Just remember when you feel tired to rest. A lot of backpackers are too busy moving from place to place and don’t recognize the signs when their body says no. It’s okay to rest for a few days, it’s okay to lay in bed for an entire day without doing anything. Give yourself time to rest and you’ll enjoy your trip way more.
5. You’ll be scammed
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You’re probably going to be scammed a few times, you’re probably going to pay 10 times the price for a taxi and those souvenirs you thought were so cheap? Well, you could’ve gotten it way cheaper if you just bargained harder. That’s just part of backpacking.
6. Everything cheap will eventually feel expensive
When we first arrive to a country like Vietnam for example, everything will feel so incredibly cheap. You can get a dorm in a hostel for 5 USD, something that would never happen at home. You’re thrilled about the prices and expect low prices like that constantly. Then you find a beach hut for 10 USD and you start moaning about it because it sounds so expensive. You’ve already forgotten about what you’d pay for it at home, probably 3 times more, and cheap somehow feels expensive again.
7. You can never see it all
As much as we want to see it all, it’s impossible. Even if you’re traveling for years, it’ll be difficult for you to squeeze everything in. It’s also frustrating when you constantly meet travelers who are telling you about all these new and exciting places, and you curse yourself for not having the time to see it. Sometimes we simply have to prioritize and be content with the fact that we won’t be able to see it all, but at least we got to see some parts of it.
8. You’re extremely privileged
If you’re backpacking the world, you’re one of the most privileged people on earth. Just the fact that you can jet away from home and go to a foreign country makes you one of the luckiest people on earth. Make sure that you appreciate it and never take it for granted.
9. There’ll always be that one traveler who’s done more than you
It doesn’t matter what you’ve done while traveling, how many countries you’ve visited or crazy things you’ve done, there will always be one other traveler who’s done more than you (and they won’t be afraid to brag about it). Remember that traveling isn’t a competition so just do whatever makes you happy.
10. You’re going to miss home
It’s inevitable. No matter how many nice days you have while traveling, there’ll be moments when you really miss home and just want to fly back. That’s perfectly normal, we’ve all been there. It’s just important to remind yourself why you’re traveling and why it’s worth doing this journey. Home will always be there and you’ll start appreciating it way more after traveling.