This trip is my first backpacking trip. Over the years I have been on holidays all over the world staying in hotels, camping in tents and driving around in a van with my longest trip being 4 weeks. Doesn’t really compare to a 52 week trip though, does it?
We are 5 months into the trip so here are a few things I have learnt so far:
Patience is a virtue…
and a necessity unless you want to spend the whole trip shouting at people and getting your knickers in a twist. I find airports can be particularly testing places. Everyone is tired, there are people everywhere, everyone is in a rush and you can feel like you are always in a queue.
If you can keep zen when others around you are getting irritated, it makes the entire experience much more enjoyable. I certainly don’t want my stress levels shooting up as it puts me in a bad mood for the rest of the day.
My most used saying in the airport?
“We have all the time in the world. We’re travelling!”
Take a breath and if you happen to catch someone’s eye in the queue next to you, smile. You may just brighten up their day!
You will get lost
It’s pretty inevitable (unless you are the 2017 world orienteering champion) and part of the fun of discovering a new place. Sometimes when you are lost and just wandering around you can stumble across some great places. Less of the ‘head down, follow the map’ and more of ‘look around, take in the sights’.
If you are concerned about wandering into an area that maybe isn’t so tourist friendly, download an app with an interactive GPS map. We use maps.me (there are lots available) and I like that you can search for places offline and save them as well as save your own location. Super helpful when you are on an excursion and trying to find your way back to your driver!
My backpack (65 litre bag from Karrimor) comes in at 19 kilos. May not sound like a lot to some people but carrying it around is bloody hard together with my rucksack which houses my laptop, camera, go pro, what feels like a million electrical wires and a book.
I have worn about half of the clothes I packed and find myself reaching for my favourite items over and over again. My advice? Pack only your favourite essential clothes. If you find yourself packing something thinking, I might wear this, it might be useful, I might lose weight when I’m away and fit into this, then don’t pack it!
Anything you don’t have you can buy locally and if you are in SE Asia, it will probably be much cheaper than back home.
Learning a little of the local lingo goes a long way
On this trip, we will visit approximately 10 countries. Of these countries, English is the official language in 5 of them. Being a native English speaker, this means that for half of the countries I visit, I don’t even have to make an effort. I appreciate how lucky I am as many travellers will be speaking English as a second language in these countries.
The other 5 countries we will be visiting/ have visited, whose official language is not English (predominantly SE Asia for us), use English when speaking to tourists. I have overheard many conversations between tourists and locals, where both are speaking English as a second language, and all involved are struggling to be understood.
It would be easy for me to spend the entire trip speaking English but I love the look on someone’s face when I say something to them in their own language. I feel that it shows I am interested in the local culture and I personally find it respectful.
Whilst it would be pretty difficult for me to speak the language of every country I visit, I like to learn some basics just to break the ice or for when you are visiting remote areas. The usual ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’, ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and my personal favourites, ‘no mushrooms’ and ‘I’m drunk!’ (used in this photo!)