2 October 2015

10 Things You'll Probably Only Ever Do as a Backpacker


When you're a backpacker you lead quite the different life as to what you would lead at home. Your money habits change drastically, your hygiene can alter and you day to day routine gets completely thrown out of the window. Some of these changes are good and some are just pretty cray and you're happy to leave them in the middle of the Australian outback.

1. Hitchhike
I would never hitchhike in my home country, the UK. Not because I think the UK is anymore particularly unsafe than the likes of Australia, where I have hitchhiked, but I simple wouldn't even think of hailing down a random car and asking for a ride at home. Maybe its because I have my own car, maybe its because British folk are so awkward at chit chat or maybe I do feel unsafe? But I've hitchhiked a fair few times on my travels, and although as a single blonde backpacker I do feel like I could be an easy target, I'm fairly trustworthy.

2. Couchsurf
Something else I would never think to do in my own country. Couchsurfing has changed the way I travel and I can't imagine backpacking around certain countries without it. Especially when you are solo travelling, as I am doing at the moment, couchsurfing is an easy way to meet people whilst staying somewhere for free and whilst not having a million and one annoying backpackers around playing the game of "oh, well I went there first, before it was popular..."

3. Milk cows
This may not be on everyone's 'things I did when I backpacked' list, and rightly so. But I'm sure any backpacker has tried a typical, shitty backpacker job for minimum wage? For the past two months I've been working as a dairy farm in New Zealand, and my main job is to milk the cows. I first got this gig after I did a Helpx/Wwoof stint on the farm, and the farmer asked if I wanted to come back to work. Working on a dairy farm certainly has opened my eyes to a different world, and its made me appreciate my bit of milk I put in my tea everyday (kind of, but not really). The work is hard, bloody filthy, and the hours are long. However, I have enjoyed doing it and surely travelling is all about trying new things that you would never try at home? But safe to say I never want to see another cow again.


4. Offer lift shares
Similar to hitchhiking I guess, but just the reverse. At the moment I'm in New Zealand and I often use the Facebook group 'Backpacking New Zealand' to share that I'm driving from such a place to such a place, and does anyone want a lift if we split fuel? Can't ever imagine doing this at home, but I might look out for it when I go back, as its saved me a fortune and made solo car journeys a lot more bearable. 

5. Wake up at 4:30am
For dairy farm life. Never again. Enough said.

6. Wake up for sunrise
This is pretty popular if you're in the likes of somewhere like south-east Asia. When visiting places like Angkor Wat, Bagan or Mount Batur, you'll probably be getting out of bed early to catch the sunrise and see the spectacular view. I'd never dream of seeing sunrise at home, unless it involved just coming back from a night out.


7. Not wear make up
Man alive, my current trip has massively changed the way I feel about make up. I used to wear make up pretty much everyday at home. It was just part of my morning routine, get up, have a shower, get dressed, put on make up. But in the past year since I set off on my Asia/Australia/New Zealand trip, I can say that I've worn make up about 10 times. Albeit, when I return home and get a job, I doubt I will be on a dairy farm so maybe make up is more the norm, but I can't imagine I'll be wearing it as much as I used to.

8. Be sociable
I am generally a sociable person, as I love to chat and meet people. But at home I wouldn't dream of chatting to someone on public transport or if they were by themselves in a cafe, but when backpacking all those unsociable attributes don't exist. Especially when you're solo travelling you have to chat to everyone, and although sometimes it can be exhausting you do meet some amazing people.


9. Wear the same 3 outfits all month
I'm never any good at packing, and I do pack more clothes than I need and more outfits than I wear, but when backpacking it is best to pack less. Especially when you're in a hot, dusty country its better to have a lighter backpack and wear that sweat ridden, filthy top another day, than to lug around a huge backpack with a fresh t-shirt every day of the week.

10. Feel homesick then have the best time of your life in the same day
There are some days when I feel really homesick, but then I start drinking and I feel great. Backpacking can take its toll on you as it is a dirty and tiring lifestyle, but its pretty incredible all the same! I've pretty much just booked my flight back home and I'm depressed to be going back but at the same time so excited to see everyone and get back to a British pub.
So in a nutshell, when you're a backpacker you'll feel every emotion in the same day, and probably even more on the $3 wine you're carrying round with you.

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