10 Myths Of Backpacking Travel

Alot of my buddies have been saying they’re jealous of my lifestyle lately – and I didn’t understand why…because in my mind anyone who wants to head out and travel the world can, it’s simply a case of concentration and motivation. I was still intrigued though so I started asking them why they didn’t simply just go and do it – what was stopping them and what their fears were.

I was pretty surprised with their responses actually and it’s made me think – do people really put these simply obstacles between them and exploring this beautiful world they live in?!

It’s like there are these myths of backpacking, which to someone who lives on the road sees as stupid, but those thinking about it view as genuine reasons not to travel. So here’s what I’ve found to be 10 Myths Of Backpacking – and why they’re complete rubbish…

 

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In South America…Totally Alone!

1) You won’t meet other backpackers

This is one of the first things everyone asks me about travel…will I meet people?! My personal response is always “unless you’re socially retarded you’ll be fine”

I’ve travelled solo for the last 2 years and I’m only ever truly on my own for a few hours at a time,miss so easy to meet people in the backpacker bubble, you’ve just got to be open to it!

 

2) You’ll struggle with language barriers

I’m useless with languages. I’ve tried and failed to learn Spanish and I’m struggling heaps trying to learn German – year I’ve manage to successfully travel the world without too much hassle. As bad as it sounds if you speak English you’re pretty set as most people know the basics worldwide. Even still I’ll always make the effort to learn a few phrases, especially hello and thank you.

 

3) It costs heaps

Yes travel can be pretty pricey, but it depends where you want to head off too. If your low on cash south east Asia will give you way more bang for your buck than say America or Europe. The first thing your learn as a backpacker is how to budget – once you’ve mastered that you’ll find that you’ll be able to survive anywhere in the world!

 

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Where There’s a Will There’s A Way!

4) …and I won’t be able to save enough

People who say they can’t save are lying! If you really want that trip of the lifetime you’ll find a way, it just might not happen as quickly as you’d hoped. Break it down, set yourself targets and put together a solid budget…and then stick to it. I’ve know backpackers like Toni from Reclaiming My Future who’ve gone from over £7.5k in debt to saving £10k in under two years!

 

5) It’s not safe

Fair enough I’m a fairly tall male which has probably reduced my risk of getting into trouble on the road but everywhere I’ve travelled I’ve felt pretty safe. And I’ve met heaps of lone female travellers everywhere who have said the same.

A long as you’re sensible, do your research and don’t put yourself into stupid situations you should be fine – you’re just as likely to get mugged in the streets of London as Bangkok!

 

6) Everything at home will change and I’ll be left behind

One of the biggest realisations I came upon when I returned from my first backpacking adventure in Australia is that no matter how long you’re away for, no matter how much you change and how many amazing things you experience along your joinery – you’ll return home and hardly anything will have changed.

It’s like the whole world is put on hold while you travel – people are still in the same jobs, relationships and ruts you left them in!

Don’t let the fear of being left behind stop your from backpacking, let the fear of not going anywhere force you to do it!

 

7) University is better

I wrote a post a while back about how I recommend a gap year over university. Depending on what you want to achieve in life I think these days Uni is totally over rated and over priced. I’ve learnt far more as a traveller and gained far more skills than I ever did in university.

 

8) …and my future employers won’t see a value in it 

As I’ve already said I’ve leant heaps on my travels and most importantly these have been “real life skills” not simply learning to pass tests! Employers are valuing gap years more and more on a CV and rightly so – you learn to budget, overcome problems, interact with all nationalities and religions and be independent – if your employer can’t see the gains in that then do you really want to work for them?!

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Decisions Decisions…!

 

9) It’s difficult to plan

Much like budgeting planning a gap year is a marathon not a race, it’s not going to simply be presented on your lap (unless of course you like taking tours, which personally I don’t). You need to take you time and approach it logically – make a list of all the places you want to visit, get some brochures, look at some blogs, at to a range of travel agents and fit everything into your budget. You don’t need everything planned for every day, just an outline and some ideas.

 

10) It’s only for young people

Whilst on the road I’ve travelled with and hung out with a huge age range of people. From 18 year old “gap yahs” through to 65 year old retirees finally hitting the road.

In the backpacker bubble I feel age is irrelevant, it’s merely a mindset. If you can have an engaging conversation, party or explore with someone who cares how old they are?!

The great thing about travel is anyone can do it, you can choose how you want to travel, where you want to travel and who you want to travel with, better late than never hey?!

 

Are you thinking about travelling the world? Anything that’s stopping you or making you nervous?

34 Responses to “10 Myths Of Backpacking Travel

  • WORD to everything of this!!

    “Let the fear of not going anywhere force you to do it” – this especially was a motivator for me to overcome my fear of travelling alone.

    I’ve also made the experience that once you book something, friends suddenly jump on the bandwagon. And if not – who cares? The world is full of interesting people and places. :)

    • ooooo love that quote Sonja!
      And I too found that once I’d booked my flights people started getting their act together to join me!

  • Hi,
    I am planning to travel to Cambodia and Thailand. I am scared of loosing my passport. Please tell me how to take care of travel documents.
    Thanks,
    Thirumal

    • I keep mine in the hostel safe or hidden in my room – also I’d suggest emailing a scan of your documents to yourself, that way if you do loose it you still have all the details and can get a replacement alot quicker.

  • Yep, I’ve been amazed at how far English will get you! I usually learn a few local words/phrases but generally don’t have a problem not knowing Vietnamese/Thai/German/Dutch. I always find it amusing to hear groups of different travellers from different countries conversing in English – all the different accents melding together.
    eemusings recently posted..The unglamorous side of travelMy Profile

    • It’s lazy but true hey?!
      Yeah it’s weird listening to all these nationalities using English – makes me feel bad for not knowing another language though!

  • Your article is very inspiring! Everything that you have said runs true to what people have said to me about my travels or wishing they could go and do what I’m doing yet they don’t see how easy it is!! It is a scary thing to do as you’re heading out into the unknown but its a good scary as there is a lot more out that to stumble upon and explore. Failing that and you don’t like it, then you can always go back home…no one is forcing you to be there if you’re not happy

    • Totally – if you don’t enjoy travelling you can simply return home, although I don’t know many people that haven’t enjoyed the experience!

  • I think the idea that anyone can save enough money to quit their jobs and travel the world for months is great!

  • Hello! Just a quick shout that I found your blog yesterday and can’t stop reading it.
    I love it, and you’re obviously doing a good job!

  • Love this post! The world is out there for those who dare to venture and not look for excuses. Looking forward to your future posts, love your website!
    YJ recently posted..Amalfi Coast: An escape from the crowd into the rusticMy Profile

    • too true – you always regret what you didn’t do more than things you did! Enjoy the site!

  • Loved this!!!

  • About to head off to Thailand & Oz in a couple weeks…ur blog is class, getting very excited!!

    • cheers Sinead – enjoy both of those epic destinations!

  • I love to go out and explore, wether on my own or together. The only things standing in my way to go backpacking: I’m still 16 and find it hard to combine saving for traveling with saving for a new guitar, reflex, etc etc. Your article motivated me though, nothing is impossible! A few weeks ago I went on my first flight alone and I have two years to plan, save and contemplate =) Thanks heaps!

    • the travel bug has hit early hey Lisette! Keep saving and you’ll have an epic adventure – plenty of time to plan it too!

  • Good list – particularly no.10! No-one need feel too old to take off on a backpacking trip. Career breaks and ‘babymoons’ (getting the travelling in before having kids) are so much more common nowadays and won’t harm your career/life! See our post on boosting your career through travelling http://www.goodtrippers.co.uk/how-to-use-your-travels-to-boost-your-career/
    Kerry (Goodtrippers) recently posted..New Amazon Rainforest conservation project launchedMy Profile

    • I love meeting people of all ages on the road – makes everything a bit more varied and interesting!

  • Backpacking, is that travelling where roughing it is carrying your “backpack” to a taxi or bus, walking more than 50m to an ATM machine and a slow internet or wifi connection?

    Sorry guys, but the original meaning of the word “backpacker” : hardy, adventureous traveller/hiker , has been well and truely lost, now meaning little more than, lonely, desperate, substance abusing moron who thinks the world owes them a favor.

  • So John (Big John)… regarding your “comment” above… I have just read the new post from Chris in response to this message from you. I have added my thoughts attached to that post. But just to give you another option to see it, here it is:

    Hi Chris. Love reading your posts. We are so lucky to have had the pleasure of meeting you personally, so know what a great guy you are. Good on you for your response to this “Big John”. “Small” of course would be more accurate. As you say, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but the smart and “big” people should be clever about the way that they share. Traveling is a passion that many of us share. Some of us did it, some of us are doing it, some of us are remembering it, some of us are waiting to do it again soon! Whatever. However. Some people are not lucky enough to be able to do it. And people do it in different styles – your surfing analogy is spot on. Anyone involved in providing good or services to those travelers should remember to be a bit grateful – and professional. We all (in any industry) deal with annoying/rude/whatever/whatever customers. Yet John’s response to your article – which is positive/informative/encouraging/etc/etc – is completely rude. So, keep up with everything you are doing Chris. We know you well enough to know that you will. The world needs a few more guys like you. Hopefully you might impact a little on John. He needs to take a long hard look at himself. You can feel free to forward this comment to him if you like. If he’s a “Big” man, he might take a bit of his precious spare time and respond! I’d love to see it. I’m sure that he knows that the measure of a good business (or head person of a business) is not the way they handle the compliments – it’s the way they handle the complaints. Hm, let’s see! As always, best wishes from Martin and I. – Michelle R (the Zermatters). :-)

    So John, what do you think? I have re-read Chris’ original article. And now I’m more annoyed. I fail to see how Chris has “provoked” this response from you. Perhaps you were just having a bad day, needed to vent (we all do), and hit that “Post Comment” button without thought. But come on! Explain yourself. You will do yourself (and your business) a big favour. I’m not being confrontational here. I’m a business owner, supplying services to travelers too. People like Chris are trying to inspire others to travel. And yes, hopefully, with enough traffic to his site, and a strong work ethic, are trying to make some money. Good on him. He’s to be commended. And anyone who gets off their couch and saves their money to travel should be commended. And anyone who is lucky enough to have a parent who pays for them to travel is to be commended. At least they are doing it. Some of them might not be your “cup of tea”. Everyone is different. If you don’t like someone, or need to tell someone off, tell them. Don’t lump every backpacker into such a rude description. How would you describe yourself? We’d all like to hear from you.

    Thanks. – Michelle R.

  • I love that first quote too.

    And it’s true what Chris says about people that chicken out when it’s time to organize a trip and then being jealous when you’ve booked your flight for a solo trip. It happened to me with Morocco and Turkey!
    Stefania – the Italian Backpacker recently posted..The sheer beauty of SantoriniMy Profile

    • it’s such a familiar situation for a lot of backpackers I think – we just have the balls to jump in feet first!

  • I guess what most people should be aware of is the fact that there are hundreds of ways of travelling. You dont need to travel five countries in a year all by yourself if you dont feel good with that. You could do an internship (I met lots of people doing this), live in a host familiy for a while… There are lot of “secure” things to do with which you can still get around or which encourage you to travel around afterwards. I think its better to travel this way than feeling bad or not travelling at all, one just have to know what he wants :)

    • too true Caro – travel is a heaps personal thing, you should never let anyone tell you how to spend you’re trip! You worked for it, you plan it, you can live it how you wish!

  • It is my biggest dream to backpack! I am a student right now and I am studying abroad in Spain. I haven’t been having the best time because of the people on my trip and I was thinking of leaving to backpack. My parents aren’t going for it though…any advice? Am I being selfish? They are telling me to be an adult and stick it out, not give up and run away from my problems.

    • hmmm it’s a tough one Michelle – it’s always good to have studies to fall back on qualification wise. How long do you have left? Backpacking will always be waiting for you – but maybe use your breaks to explore a bit of Europe and test the water?

  • Hey! Your site is very cool. I’m 30 Female and never left my city. I do have money and the travel bug now after going through a tough situation i want to face my fear.
    I know this is a silly question-where the hell do I start? Any hints or tips? As a solo traveller where do you think is best to start?

    • Hey Ally – stoked to hear you’re all geared up and ready! Seriously solo travel is very rarely solo and if you’re open to new faces and experiences (which it sounds like you are) you’ll be fine!
      Hmmm…where to start…thats the million dollar question! If you’re heaps nervous a western country like Oz or NZ is a good intro as you’ll have no language barriers and things would appear a bit more familiar. On the flip side though Asia is heaps cheaper and you’ll still meet loads of people – but the culture shock and what not will feel even more adventurous. I guess is depends if you want to jump in at the deep end! Drop me an email if you want to chat through some things!

  • Amen. Hey Chris, I was just sent your blog post on Facebook, great work. Just wondering is I can have your permission to print it out and post it up at my hostel on our Wall of Wicked? When we see something cool and interesting about travel, we add it to the wall and this is definitely both of those things.

    Cheers,

    Jeff

    • hey Jeff – yeah no worries! If you can include my website underneath it that would be perfect!

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