Backpacking is not always a vacation. In fact, it can be a lot of work. Draining and emotionally exhausting work. A lot of people romanticize long-term travel (and there are certainly many, many glorious things to talk about) but some travelers get home from their trips and don’t share the negative aspects.
I love travel. I love meeting new people, being able to see new places, and having something interesting to do every day. But travel does have its challenges.
Here are some of them:
The Redundant Questions
It’s always the same questions. Every guesthouse. Every hostel. Every new person you meet. “Where are you from?” “Where have you been?” “Where are you going?” It’s like the standard dinner party dialogue of “What do you do for work? Where are going to school?” has simply been replaced.
Packing has always been one of my least favorite chores, and it’s made worse when you have to do it every day. Rolling your things up as tight as possible, folding and pushing and trying to get that one last shirt in there without having to redo the whole thing.
I’ve had food poisoning at least 10 times during my travels, and been to the hospital for it twice. There is nothing worse than going to a foreign hospital and feeling awful and having the nurses speak limited English. It’s one of the times that I have truly just wanted to catch the next flight home.
Dorm Room Life
Sometimes I am just not in the mood to make pleasant small talk. Or listen to the loud Aussie guy snoring above me. I always notice when I need to take a break or recharge my batteries by how well I doing with staying in dorms. When it get’s too much, I always try to take a break and have some solo time.
Dealing With The Language Barrier
Sometimes something as simple as finding a certain food item or a medicine can be an all day affair. Even if you know the basics of the language in the country you are visiting, it can still be extremely hard to translate what you are looking for.
It Can Be Unhealthy
If you let yourself get sucked into the drinking culture of some popular backpacking spots, it can be very hard to disengage from that. Since you have virtually no set routine it can be very easy to slip into bad eating habits as well.
You Constantly Feel Dirty
When I’m backpacking through hot countries, I never feel 100 percent clean. After stepping out of the hostel shower and into my flip-flops, I am almost immediately covered with a layer of dust or sweat the second I step outside.
That being said- the benefits outweigh the negatives. Even the times when I was most miserable I look back on fondly because at least I was experiencing and learning and living. And even if it sucks at the time- it’ll probably make a good story, right?