Backpacking is one of those subjects that generally tends to divide opinion – you either love it or hate it.
We all have our own stereotype of a backpacker built into our mind. It’s usually a scruffy, bearded chap with curly hair, bands, bracelets, tattoos and a large green rucksack with weird flags stitched on.
In reality though these people come from all backgrounds and nationalities; united by a sense of adventure and desire to see and experience the world. But they all share one thing in common. They have a certain level of tolerance that allows them to manage living in a hostel.
Providing you are able to answer ‘Yes’ to all but one of these 12 questions, then you too could be one of them.
1. Can I cope without personal space?
Backpacking generally involves sharing a room with eight other people; one of which will probably have a violent snoring problem. Most often you have little control over who you end up rooming with, therefore you will need to quickly get comfortable changing in front of complete strangers.
2. Am I prepared to deal with the necessary small talk?
Undoubtedly when you arrive in a hostel you will be greeted with the same small talk that is common amongst curious people trying to figure you out. So if you are easily annoyed by the usual “Where are you from?”, “What do you do?”, “Where are you going?” conversation then this really isn’t for you.
3. Can I survive without a daily shower?
Everyone sets out with the intention to take a shower at least once a day. However the reality is that freezing cold water, queues in the morning and the realization that nobody else has bothered, all mean this rarely ever happens.
4. Am I aware that my food is going to be taken?
It’s a surprise the first time you open the communal kitchen fridge to find your eggs and bacon have magically disappeared. But just deal with it, these things happen.
5. Can I really fit all my possessions into a rucksack?
Girls be honest with yourselves – can you really cope for 3 months with just two pairs of shoes?
6. Can I deal with meeting weird people?
Hostels tend to attract a handful of people who don’t really do normal society. They are often peculiar but generally harmless characters. Just have you wits about you and don’t carry any packages for them.
7. Am I going traveling to find myself?
If you are then don’t. Because the fact is these people still actually find themselves on the other side of the world two years later. Some people go traveling without a real end in sight and get caught up traveling for so long that they have no skills or career to fall back on. So they travel even more and delay taking responsibility in their lives even longer. Don’t be one of these people!
8. Can I cope in a bunk-bed?
Bunk beds are cool when you are a kid, but they soon lose their appeal as you get older. If you are tall then you will have to sleep with your legs through metal poles. If you are small then good luck trying to hoist yourself onto the top bunk at 3am in the pitch dark. And despite being squeaky and offering little privacy; people will still believe that it is socially acceptable to have sex or start masturbating.
9. Do I realize how expensive the world is?
No matter how much money you start off with or how good you think you will be at budgeting; the reality is that you are going to be broke at some stage during your journey and will find yourself on a diet of noodles, pasta, and dirt cheap wine.
10. Can I go for weeks without exercising?
Exercise becomes a redundant word during your time backpacking and you are going to return with a few handles in various places by the end of it.
11. Have I heard of the dangerous travel bug?
Be prepared that if you do go travelling then you may catch the travel bug. I’m not referring to a nasty infection, but rather the fact that after your first trip you will subsequently want to go to every country in every continent, and you may find yourselves in a cycle of working and travelling until your thirties. It is addictive.
12. Have I got travel insurance?
It is essential. You will hear some horror stories along the way!