If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home.

~James Michener~

 

Backpacking… What exactly is that?

 

 

“Backpacking is a form of low-cost, independent international travel. It includes the use of a backpack or other luggage that is easily carried for long distances or long periods of time. [...]”  

~source: Wikipedia~

 

Now you’re wondering: Why on earth would I do that!?!

Well I’ll try to explain and convince you, not because I consider that backpacking suits everyone – I don’t – but because to me it’s been a collection of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever lived!

 

 

EIGHT REASONS TO GO BACKPACKING:

 

1.  Make magic encounters

Meeting people is for me one of the top reasons to travel. It can happen at anytime, anywhere. In a bus, in front of a street food stall, on a beach, in a guesthouse, in a shop, or in the middle of nowhere! It always takes you by surprise. You’re just asking your way, and you end up talking for hours, sometimes with only body language, realising that everyone’s a charactere, everyone has so many things to share!! From crazy stories to everyday life, we have so much to learn from others, and so much to make them discover. Locals or foreigners, you’ll never forget those people you meet, even if it’s a few-hours story with no follow up.

 

 

2.  Fill your eyes with beauty

I’m sure your own country is beautiful. There is no need to go very far to see stunning sceneries, art or architecture. What I like to experience is difference. A beauty different from home, a beauty that is proper to a place, that we can’t compare to anything else. I know, beauty is subjective. And it’s  not all about personal taste. It’s also about state of mind, about atmosphere, about what surrounds you. That’s why it’s interesting to experience visiting other countries, your view changes.

 

 

3.  Be surrounded by Nature

What an awesome feeling to be in the middle of nowhere, or more precisely, far away from everything. Sitting on a rock contemplating the himmalayan summits,  walking in the Gobi desert, setting your hamac in the deep green of the Amazon forest, floating somewhere in the ocean. Listen… There is nothing but the sounds of nature. No sign of civilisation, no mobile phone, no engine, no horn. Silence! You can hear you’re heart beat and your lungs breathing! I always feel so powerless facing mother nature, and yet proud and happy that my path has brought me in that place at that particular moment.

 

 

4.  Experience flexibility

If you have no time and decent money, you’ll probably travel through an agency, and it is indeed wise and much easier! If you try backpacking, you’ll be amazed!! Yes it’s tiring, yes it’s a hell lot more work than the all-included-package, but Yes it is SO worth it! You can choose what you want to see, you can change the schedule any time you want, you can eat whenever you want, to can stay in a place if you like it or leave if you don’t, you can rest if you need to (but you’ll be restless, eyes wide open!)

 

 

5.  Loose youself, push your limits

Travelling gives me wings. I’d like to see everything, I’d like to try everything. I ate strange things, I went bungi jumping (5 times!), I was in a train for more than 80 hours, I experienced extreme cold (-40°celsius), I meditated, I often felt overexited, and sometimes miserable, I learnt paragliding, I’ve been exhausted and in pain but kept walking. What for? Not for glory – even though , let’s be honest, there is a lot of pride after you’ve done something you thought you’d never do!  For the thrill, the challenge.

 

 

6.  Feel free

Feeling independant, how nice. You don’t owe anything to anyone.Let’s be clear, I’m not talking about doing whatever you want regardless you the local traditions and habits! Forget that! But there, in your trip, there will be no one to tell you “you can’t do that, you got a meeting today”, “where were you yesterday?”, “why did you do this and that”, “you should have done it that way”. YOU make your own rules, as lonf as they are not insulting to anyone. Feel free to be happy!

 

 

7.  The cheapest way to explore

Backpacking can indeed be a very cheap way to travel. It all depends on you and your standards! If we consider the literal definition of backpacking, you can of course stay in 5 stars hotels, take a flight here and there, eat smoked salmon for breakfast: as long as you carry your backpack, you’re a backpacker! But backpacking is more than just a world, it’s nearly a philosophy! A life style! If you have a tight budget, be ready for a much more exotic trip, taking local buses, eating in small local restaurants or street stalls, starting a great friendship with your roomates Mr  Cockroach and Miss Bedbug, sleeping in noisy dorms. I’m of course exagerating, you’ll have a great experience, and if you’re wise and resourceful “cheap” can rime with “decent” most of the time! And believe me, you’re much better off sitting in the friendly Sunrise View Guesthouse having a tchai with the owner, than alone in your Hilton room!

 

 

8.  Allow your 5 senses to discover


You’ll be experimenting all sorts of new feelings. Have you ever wondered what elephant skin feels like, what kind of sound a gecko makes, what proper indian masala tastes like, what’s the smell of a nepali dal bhat, what color are the fishes in the Andaman sea? You’d be surprised!!

 

 

 

 

EIGHT VALUES TO HAVE WHEN YOU TRAVEL

- or 8 things to work on if you don’t have them!

 

1.   Be open minded – don’t judge the differences

2.   Be patient – with people and with events. Some countries have a much slowlier life style than Paris or New York. Enjoy the pace!

3.   Be respectful – in what you say, what you do, what you look like

4.   Be responsible – don’t do anything that would harm anyone or damage anything

5.   Be generous – not economically speaking (but you can!). Be generous of yourself: Give yourself fully to your experiences, take time for others

6.   Be humble – no one is superior to anyone. whatever skin color, whatever background, whatever wealth. Treat people as equals.

7.   Be curious  - in a sensible way. Look, feel, taste, smell, listen.

8.   Be flexible – for sure many thing won’t happen as you planned!