The 13 Ultimate ‘Win’ Moments When Backpacking
Backpacking is my favourite way to explore the world – that is until I become filthy rich and take my private helicopter instead of night buses. While traveling with a bag full of possessions is full of its ups and downs, it’s the little moments that can make the difference between a good day and an incredible day.
GOURMET HOSTEL BREAKFASTS
You wake up after your first night in the new hostel, drag yourself out of your bed and head to the kitchen. You’re expecting barely toasted white bread, brown bananas and coffee that tastes like engine coolant, but you’re presented with a dish worth serving in a hipster café in Melbourne!
Sometimes when you’ve been on the road you just want to switch off your brain and watch a movie or an episode of your favourite series. Or the entire last two seasons of Game of Thrones in full HD. There’s nothing better than streaming with no lag!
YOUR BED GETS DOUBLE BOOKED BUT YOU GET UPGRADED
Fresh off an 8 hour bus ride, you arrive at your hostel only to find out that your bed has been double booked. Just as you’re about to unleash a tirade of hell upon the poor soul at reception, you’re told that you’ll be moved to a private room with aircon, ensuite bathroom and TV (with Netflix!). Hmmm that shut you up pretty quick didn’t it?
GETTING THE BOTTOM BUNK
When you’ve taken full advantage of Free Tequila Tuesday it’s easier to crawl into bed than it is to scale what feels like a 3 story building. Don’t even get me started about getting down from the top bunk, I’ve ripped shorts, broken ladders and almost snapped ankles as I tried to gracefully slide my way back down to earth. Fingers crossed your bed will be the bottom!
MEETING A NEW TRAVEL BUDDY WHO’S A FRIEND FOR LIFE
Whether you bond over the same favourite destination, share a horrible experience together or just get along like a house on fire – there is nothing better than meeting someone who you instantly click with. You don’t always have to be super polite or social all the time, and finding someone who you can just chill out with comfortably is one of the most relaxing aspects of backpacking.
WHEN YOU LOOK LOST AND A LOCAL COMES TO YOUR RESCUE
Nothing restores my faith in humanity more than having a local come up to me and help me find my way when I’m obviously in struggle street. A hopelessly lost backpacker will often have a look of confusion on their face, their head buried in Maps.Me and will normally be turning around on the spot as they try to find the direction they’re facing. This is a good one for when you’re back home – make the effort to help someone who looks like they might need it!
WHEN YOUR BACKPACK SOMEHOW MAKES IT UNDER THE BAGGAGE ALLOWANCE
23Kg should be heaps, right? You started your trip with 19Kg, surely you couldn’t have amassed another 4Kg in t-shirts, money pouches, shot glasses and other incredibly useful souvenirs! You approach the check in counter with a beads of sweat on your brow. Your heart rate increases as the scale jumps around like it’s a contestant in the Biggest Loser. 22.8Kg, too easy! Never any doubt! Now your brick of a bag is sorted you can find yourself some overly expensive airport food!
HAVING YOUR FIRST CONVERSATION IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE THAT ISN’T ABOUT PUBLIC TRANSPORT, FOOD OR HOSTELS
This actually happened to me the same day as this post was written. My Spanish is by no means good, but it was good enough to speak to a complete stranger in a shoe store about my trip, his family, extended family (some of whom are living in Aus!), the recent earthquakes in Mexico and of course, shoes. It’s moments like these that prove you’re actually making some sort of progress in a new language!
A FULLY EQUIPPED KITCHEN WITH SHARP KNIVES
I like to cook for myself along the road as it’s often cheaper and I normally make enough to either feed the rest of the hostel or myself for the next 3 days. Pasta is usually a big feature on my menu and that means tomatoes. There is nothing more depressing than trying to ‘cut’ (read: annihilate) a tomato with a knife as sharp as a Kardashian.
Whether it’s a crystal clear water, a bright blue sky or a sunset worthy of being in the Lion King, perfect weather will make your photos look amazing while rendering everyone back home jealous! And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love doing that!? While rain and fog might usually ruin a day, it can also add to the atmosphere of a destination such as the Palenque Ruins. Nothing like a bit of Vitamin D though to put you in a good mood!
Goodbyes are the worst. Will I see them again? Will we keep in contact or will the last few days just dissolve into a lost memory as newer friends join your journey? My record for unexpected reunions is two years between meetings, from the beaches of Thailand to the city streets of Cartagena!
A BAG FULL OF FRESHLY LAUNDERED CLOTHES
Each pair of jocks has been worn front to back and inside out, so you’ve been going commando the last 3 days. You’re down to your last beer singlet which doesn’t really pass the sniff test but it’s the best of a bad bunch. The last pair of shorts you have are actually girl’s short-shorts which you bought in a Guatemalan market without trying on. You look like a mess, but you don’t care – in the morning you will have a bag full of clean, folded clothes which smell of daisies and rainbows. Quite possibly the only feeling that rivals having a full tank of fuel in your car or 100% battery on your phone.
KNOWING YOU CAN DO WHAT YOU WANT, WHEN YOU WANT AND WHERE YOU WANT
The biggest reason why I travel is having these moments of freedom. If I want to go hiking a volcano that morning, I will. If I can’t be bothered getting out of bed to visit another church, I won’t. Sometimes these moments come when I’m doing something wild like bungee jumping, and sometimes they creep up on me when I’m doing nothing but sitting in a hammock by the beach and reading a book. No matter what the situation is, the thought is still the same: How cool is it that this is my life!?