7 Weird Realities About Backpacking No One Ever Talks About

Shutterstock /  Peter Bernik
Shutterstock / Peter Bernik

Everyone knows how great backpacking is since we all have that one friend who just won’t shut up about it. But there just so happens to be a darker, less glamorous side to backpacking that no one really talks about. Things like…

1. There is A LOT of sex.

One thing you rarely hear ex-backpackers talk about is all the rampant sex-having taking place in the hostels along the way. Let’s take a look at the general backpacker situation:

You have a bunch of young, free-spirited and mostly fit and attractive people, half-way across the world in some tropical paradise. Most of them are single, highly social and far away from the inhibitions you normally have around friends and family. Add to that a large consumption of alcohol and a constant sensation of adventure and excitement.

What do you think is going to happen?

2. You’re often in a bad position, and people will take advantage of that.

It’s not uncommon to find yourself in a poor position while backpacking. You don’t know the area, you don’t have a lot of alternatives, you’re low on cash, or you might not know the local language. Fortunately, most people you meet along the way will help you out, but every so often, people will take advantage of your bad position.

For instance, it’s not unheard of for hostels to charge overprices when they know you have nowhere else to go, and employers to exploit backpacker laborers when they know they’re desperate for money and don’t know the working laws of the country.

3. You learn that the world doesn’t care about you.

You know how you spend most of your time worrying about what everyone else thinks about you? Yeah, that tends to change when you’re traveling from place to place and realize that the world couldn’t give less of a damn about you.

After a while of backpacking, you learn that the world doesn’t revolve around you, and that you’re more or less a passing, insignificant background noise in everybody else’s lives. The rest of the world doesn’t care if you embarrass yourself, or if you say something stupid. Nobody knows you, and nobody will even remember you a year from now.

4. It changes you in weird ways.

Nobody expects to be the same person after an extended journey abroad, but backpacking tends to change you in more ways than you’d expect. For starters, everything from your self-image to your priorities in life will change, along with your habits and behaviors.

But a much weirder side-effect of backpacking is that it tends to strengthen your national pride. You see, there’s a strong psychological effect occurring when you’re surrounded by tons of different nationalities; suddenly you become a representative of your country, which makes you associate more and more with your nationality. And this in turn forces your brain to strengthen your feelings toward it in order for your brain to maintain its congruity.

5. You become mentally disconnected from the “real” world.

No matter how many times you promise to keep in touch with everyone back home, life at home will eventually start to fade away as your traveling life takes over. And the longer you travel, the more disconnected you become. Your friends and family start to matter less and less, and you gradually start to lose contact with most of them.

It’s only a matter of time before you find yourself going completely off the grid for weeks at a time without a second thought.

6. Your entire concept of money changes.

When you’re out traveling the world on a budget, your perception of money tends to change completely. You become more and more aware of all you spending along the way, as every dollar you spend could have been used to extend your travels just a little bit longer.

Seeing how your budget doesn’t replenish, and how every unnecessary dollar you spend means potentially shortening your trip, it’s easy to become exceptionally cheap when it comes to all non-essential purchases.

7. Your way of socially interacting with others changes forever.

After a while of meeting hundreds of fleeting acquaintances along the way, and never spending more than a few days together with anyone, your way of interacting with people changes.

You find yourself craving the deeper connections you’re used to, and so you start to open up completely to virtual strangers. Bonding goes much quicker, and it’s not uncommon to form strong, lasting friendships in just a day or two.

Sure, backpacking is awesome – but it also comes with a lot of weird side-effects! TC mark


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