The Art of Travelling
Travelling from place to place can be a bit of an art; it takes a lot of strength of character to be able to adapt to different people, different cultures, and different settings. Not everywhere is going to be a comfortable paradise, and as a backpacker it is your sworn duty to respect the places and customs that you pass through.
Here are some Do’s and Don’ts of backpacking that will guide you towards fun and experience, and help keep you out of trouble.
- Adventure -
The primary reason for most people to go travelling is the experience. That may be a broad term, but travelling is a broad experience, and when you leave yourself open to experience the world, you have to have an adventurous mind-set.
Have you ever seen the film Yes Man? If you haven’t, give it a watch. The idea that it basically promotes is that life experience does not find you; you have to find life experience. If an opportunity arises, seize it – take any opportunity for a new experience with both hands (as long as it won’t leave you dead or in prison), even if you don’t think it’s your cup of tea.
If I’ve learnt one thing about life, it’s that one day you may end up as an old person who has spent the last 80 years on this planet. And once your muscles have withered, and once your bones are frail, and once your legs cannot take you where you desire, you will reflect on the times when you were young and free and able to do whatever in the world you pleased. And if you do not make the most of your time in this world, you will only end up with regret, and wonder what could have happened if you had just said ‘yes’.
The time for adventure is now.
- Meet people –
Life on the road brings many new faces and many new characters – people from all walks of life that you won’t meet at home. Despite all the amazing things you might see on your travels, it is the people that make the experience memorable, and it is the people who you share stories with, even if you may never see them again once you’ve parted ways. Backpackers generally have the characteristic trait that seeks experience, and it is that innate curiosity that attracts interesting things and people. Make the most of this.
Sometimes it can be daunting meeting new people, but it is something that you get used to when you’re travelling. The more people you travel with, the less necessary it seems to meet other people as you can get along just fine in your own little group. Personally I would advise not travelling in a large group as it diverts you and blocks you from branching out to new people. Travelling alone or in pairs means you are almost forced to talk to other people, and you will find that it is almost always worthwhile. In conclusion, remember this: If you keep an ear open and a smile on your face, you are guaranteed to meet the most incredible and interesting people on the planet.
- Splash out every so often –
With backpacking comes all its woes, including money problems. When you’re young and travelling, it’s only normal for money to be something you want to keep a close eye on, but the truth is that it is a balancing act of spending and saving. Some people watch every penny spent, and count their pocket change to the dime. This created stress and worry that you can do without.
I am not saying that one should not be careful with what one spends, but one also needs to enjoy life when life is there to be enjoyed. Don’t always go the cheap road, because as the people say… YOLO. Cheesy as it may sound, you may only get one chance to enjoy a place or moment, and it’s good for the soul to fulfil a surging desire every now and then, and the financial sacrifice can be very worth it.
On the other hand, even if you have more money than you could wish for (yeah right), you should still take Humble Road to see the real culture of a country, as this is where the true adventure lies.
- Be a part of the culture –
You’re a chameleon! Adapting to survive is part of human nature, and travelling is no exception – with a new place comes new customs, new people and new rules. The art of travelling is being able to pass through a place without disturbing it; this is done with a few simple guidelines:
Be polite, be respectful, and always pay your way – especially with the locals. They see a lot of people come through their home towns and tourists can get a bad rep from being destructive or disrespectful, and sometimes this can just be a matter of not knowing the cultural difference. Make it your aim to not just learn about, but to be a part of the culture you are surrounded by.
If you get along with the locals, your time there is going to be much more enjoyable, for you and for them. Be conscious of your noise, your drinking, and how you approach people – a friendly smile can go a long way. Fighting is a big no-no, and can land you in a lot of trouble. Sometimes it is best to put aside your pride and just walk away from a tense situation. You’ll be glad you did later on.
Be safe, be friendly, be adventurous, and remember:
“Take nothing but memories. Leave nothing but footprints.”