I always held aspirations to go backpacking however for various reasons, children, work, money, excuses, fear etc I didn’t get started until after I reached 50. Wow, if I did regrets I may regret that. Why?
1. It’s the freedom to do what you want. I know, cliched, but trust me, it is. You put your pack on your back and go where you like. You will get all sorts of advice about how a true backpacker walks everywhere, or scarily hitch hikes (please don’t do this unless you are very experienced, if at all). Well that’s OK for those who choose to but don’t be ashamed if you get a bus or a taxi. They can save you hours which you can then enjoy doing whatever exciting activity you choose. All you need to do is book your flights and leave the ‘in-between’ to plan as you go. If you aren’t on a deadline you can get an open ended ticket. If you like the reassurance of having things booked you can do that. Hint! Always allow more time than you think. Work on the theory that timetables are a sort of rough guide, not factual. Relax and enjoy the moment.
2. Your money goes further. Now this is a big bonus and I can promise you I wouldn’t have seen Asia or Australia any other way. You won’t get dragged in to buying loads of unwanted souvenirs, you can’t carry them! How to save most money? PLANNING!! You may see hippies along the way who take every day as it comes however they may also have a laptop in their pack, an online marketing business and access to every app in existence that taps into cheap flights. You get cheap flights, especially long haul, by planning. Don’t rule out going to a travel agent and asking for their advice. They are professionals, they know things. You can pinch ideas about itineraries from them or pick up their brochures (I often cut out the small maps to stick in my travel journal)
3. You meet people. Now this is a tricky one for me, as I tend to be a recluse. I guess most writers are. I am quite happy in my own space. However, when you travel with a pack you tend to meet more people and talk. You meet people who are travelling. You meet people who work in cafes and bistros. Yes, you talk to locals.Do not be fooled by appearances, or intimidated. You meet passengers on buses. You meet people who drive buses. This is great because people know stuff, they know things about your destination that isn’t in brochures, you can make friends across the globe so easily. It enhances the whole experience, honestly. You get the idea? Too scary, need a moment? Put your headphones on and hold a book.
4. Your money is well spent. I am surprised and saddened at how many people don’t spend money locally at their chosen holiday destinations. Please get out there, buy coffee, chat with locals (see no. 3) I love street food. Your tour operator will often tell you to avoid it if they have a restaurant they want you to go to, wonder why that is…hmm. Anyway, I always carry my own cutlery and make sure I see the raw food before it gets thrown on the burners. Think about it, in a restaurant can you do that? Your money goes directly into the local economy. Hint! One exception you could make to this local support ethos is to use the traveller’s secret resource…McDonalds! Free wifi folks! Now you know why the hippies go abroad and still sit in Macker D’s. I highly recommend their Asian iced tea, it’s on the kids menu but yummy!
5. It’s fun and life affirming. You may need a few days to settle in to your new routine, or lack of it, then you really will feel amazing. Try hard to avoid the last minute rush, pack in advance, make lists, carry a planner, read your tour guides, get your travel insurance, wear comfy clothes. If you can, get to the airport a bit early, relax. You are on holiday now! I love people watching and trust me at airports you get every mix you can imagine. Don’t put on big headphones, listen to the announcements, soak in the languages, watch the boards, chat to someone. You may get inspiration for your next trip. Trust me you will want to do it again. Enjoy every moment, watch the sunsets, wake up for sunrise, get that bus to the other side of the city/island/country and don’t forget to let me know how it went via the comments or social media, you’ll find the links here: contact page
So make plans, you can do it no matter what age you are. It will be worth it and I’m sure once you’ve tried it you’ll be hooked.
Check out some other great blogs:
Sign up below for the community newsletter, with exclusive content, discounts and offers to start in Summer 2016.
Handy Shopping Links (By using these you are enabling me to continue writing, they may also save you money, thank you!)