Backpacking is almost a right of passage these days. Every other article on Facebook, Twitter, Buzzfeed etc is there encouraging you to ‘quit your job and travel’ or telling you how you haven’t lived and experienced raw culture until you backpack *insert country/continent/world here*. You then look at travel bloggers doing it oh so glamorous and then when you pick up that pack and head out there yourself, you suddenly realise how unglamorous you look in sweat soaked hair and confused facial expressions.
When you backpack yourself you’ll slam into some harsh realities, make some pretty hilarious mistakes but you’ll have the best adventures, meet the most incredible people and surprise yourself.
So what is really like to backpack around the world?
Luckily that’s currently what I’m doing at the moment, along with the wonderful bloggers below (both named and anonymous) we are here to share our deepest confessions from our experiences backpacking around the world.
My Illness Made Me Angry enough to leave a country I had dreamed of travelling:
In my defense, the most shameful backpacker confession that I’m willing to disclose stemmed from being in recovery from the worst case of food poisoning I’ve ever experienced in my life, combined with being in the highest altitude capital city in the world – La Paz, Bolivia.
No, I didn’t vomit all over the bus – that was my travel partner – it was worse. I hid myself in a private hostel room for days, lying in bed watching Netflix in 5-minute increments – bad Bolivian Wi-Fi – and only left the room to grab Chinese food from the whole in wall shack next door.
I was heartbroken that my illness had kept me from having the incredible time in Salar De Uyuni, a place I had dreamed of for months, which instead left me stuck in the land cruiser while all my travel friends were taking fantastic and hilarious photos on the great white salt expanse.
Angry at Bolivia for my problems I hid out until I was healthy enough to leave. I caught a bus from La Paz to Copacabana, where I spent the rest of my recovery along the shores of Lake Titicaca.
I’m ashamed that I hardly ventured more than 200 meters from my hostel while in the capital, but I know that Bolivia will be a place that I will have to return to someday for do over.
I miss the basics; comfort and privacy.
Backpacking around the world is incredible, you meet some extraordinary people, have some great adventures and pretty much drink and eat a little too much. But there are some points when all I want to do is lay on my bed with a huge bar of chocolate while watching Netflix. Not go out and drink, or talk to people or feel the pressure to ‘do something’.
Waking up in a hurry in the morning to turn the alarm off and switch the torch on the iPhone on, without waking up the other 8 people you share with is difficult. Having to make sure your towel is big enough to wrap yourself decently in while walking down the hall to the showers, without having to make a return trip because you forgot the shampoo is annoying.
Sometimes all anyone wants is a little bit of privacy and comfort.
There’s only so much privacy and comfort a hostel dorm room offers, so when I finally found my base for the next few months I couldn’t explain how happy I was to be out of hostels and into a house. I had my own room and bathroom!
Don’t get me wrong, hostels are great. But after two months, they lost their shine on me.
Getting blocked out my ATM while travelling reminded me of the kindness of strangers.
Carey from CareBear Abroad
I have a confession to make. I Never carry cash on my while traveling.
Yes, I know, it seems silly and well maybe a little stupid but in this day and age everything is credit right? WRONG.
I made it through Serbia and Slovenia without spending a dime. Why? Because I had no cash and my bank locked me out of the ATM – actually, let me rephrase that; I forgot my pin-code so technically I locked myself out my account.
It was a Saturday and banks were closed. I contacted my American bank account via Skype after hunting down free wi-fi but they weren’t much help.
Only now did I come to learn that a lot of the Balkan countries and Eastern European countries don’t accept credit cards everywhere, only cash. Whoops.
So how did I get through my trip?
Thanks to the wonderful locals of Belgrade and Ljubljana I was given free rides to the other places I needed to reach and I was amazed at how kind these people were, going out of their way to help a complete stranger with no money.
You think I should have gained an invaluable lesson on this particular trip. ALWAYS CARRY CASH for backup. I wish I cold say I learnt that from this experience and that I always have local currency before travelling, but in all honesty, I still only carry card and hope for the best.
Maybe one day I will learn, until then, I will rely on the kindness of strangers when I’ve pulled the short straw.
I Missed my International Flight To Europe on my First Day of Travelling
In July 2015 I was spending a few days in the Big Apple – New York City – on an extended layover before embarking on my backpacking trip around Europe.
On this particular day I was perched in a high chair at my favorite café in the East Village and lazily watching the people passing on the street.
While sipping my latte, I dialed the number for my airline with the hope of getting a free upgrade – it never hurts to ask right? – But when I provided my booking reference to the customer service representative she asked me if it was regarding the flight leaving now? But I’m leaving the next day, right? I WAS WRONG. My flight was leaving as I was sipping my latte. Oops.
I had been so sure of the flight date I hadn’t even double-checked it in my calendar or my actual itinerary. Mortified I shakily asked the rep how much it was going to cost me to re-book the next day…
Later that night I burst into my friend’s Brooklyn apartment with a six-pack of beers and told her to prepare herself for a big one.
That extra night in NYC had cost me a small fortune.
Not the best way to begin the trip..
I didn’t shower for DAYS…
Oops, this one’s mine – Little Wanderlust Stories
Yes guys and girls you heard me. I did not actually shower for DAYS while hiking the northern hill tribes in Thailand.
Was it hot? Yes. Was it humid? Hell Yes. Did I sweat? Probably more than I have done in my life.
After all this you’d think the first thing I would want was a shower. Well of course except, the places that we spent the nights didn’t have much in the way of showers. They also had giant spiders which liked to join you in the ‘shower’ and that was enough to put me off stepping foot in one.
So did I just stink for the whole few days? I probably did but we had make-shift baths in the river, swims under waterfalls and washed our faces in the local stream.
So yes, I didn’t shower for days. But I had some of the best outdoor ‘baths’ Thailand had to offer – plus if you go in with your clothes on its laundry as well.