We’ve been called many things. Travelers by default. But we like to be called explorers, backpackers, adventurers, wanderers. We are a growing breed of humans with restless feet and the inability to stay put and dwell in one place.
However, I will admit there is a certain cliche attached to us ‘backpackers‘. Take for instance the all important jewellery…. now, we all know we are not a true ‘free-spirited wanderer’ without mounds of cheap bracelets attached to our wrists. Without these how on earth will people know that you are a traveler? Heaven forbid someone mistake you for a holiday-maker or a back-packing amateur! No no, bracelets are a must. Then there are piercings, just the one, to prove you are an individual without truly committing to any body modifications. All of the above I am most DEFINITELY guilty of, I will be the first to admit it. Well, we want to show off to people back home just how much we are off exploring the world, fucking the system and refusing to settle down into the monotonous drone of working life.
Now for the real facts:
1. When speaking to said backpacker, never refer to it as something so trivial as a ‘holiday’ – it should be referred to as ‘traveling’ or ‘seeing the world’
2. But a rose by any other name… is still just another way of delaying adulthood.
So why do we backpack?
Hardship? Mental stress? (Something we all truly suffer in the first world) To character build? To really ‘get the most out of life’, rich kids, students and insufferable hipsters have to spend a few months living like they do in the third world.
Good one. With £3000 in the bank, a guide book, mummy and daddy on the other end of the phone and a patronizing love for indigenous music brimming, off we venture into the world to live like paupers. Provided, of course, that paupers live in recommended hostels which offer hot water, free WI-FI and clean beds.
So what really is it all about? We need to cut the bullshit, I am speaking to myself here. It is not about the cheap booze, full moon parties and our new found freedom! (Well maybe a little). What it really is about is learning to live nomadically with nothing but our possessions in a backpack and moving as our only constant. About not just traveling, but evolving. Embracing new experiences. Wanderlust resides within every single one of us. No matter who we are or what we do, we can always choose to follow it.
I am not saying everyone should give up everything this second, buy a ticket and pack your bags tonight. Although, if that is what you want, you can do so. I am not saying once you do that you will discover ‘freedom’. What I am saying is that you should allow yourself to be free. I travel to learn, to experience and to see something new everyday.
One day, when we are old with silver hair, liver spots, creases and bad hips we can reminisce of the days of adventure and the lack of responsibilities that we had. We will look back at the full-moon parties, the buckets of vodka and the crowds of happy, drunk students to an extent, but what I will truly remember is the white oceans, the abundant jungles, the long-strenched out beaches and the different, unique cultures that I will witness. Whilst I give off the facade that I am going out their for the party, social life and cheap alcohol, in reality it is much more than that…