A Backpackers Tale
Trip Start Nov 01, 2006
80Trip End Aug 01, 2007
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During the last few weeks I have been reflecting on what its like to backpack around the world. To give whomever is reading this blog an idea as to what I do to get from one place to another, what its like living in hostels, planning your next move, etc. Here is my tale on the matter.
To some degree I feel you need to have a general plan. Where you might want to go and to have a guidebook to help. Although, I like to spend at least a day or too off the guidebook path, it helps to know what you're looking at and where to get the best deals for things when you're on a budget. With that said, the budget is the key issue when traveling. Depending on your limits you can eat, sleep, and transport yourself on many levels. I happen to be on the frugal, but your only doing this once budget. This means, don't waste your money on stupid things, but if it's a once in a lifetime opportunity, spend the money! That is what I am doing.
I sleep in multi-bed hostels, basically like sleeping in a dorm with beds numbering anywhere from 3 to 100 (haven't experienced 100 beds yet, 16 seems to be my limit!). The bathroom is usually somewhere down the hall or at times outside around a corner. They are not always clean and can smell awful depending on the management and amount of people lodged there. During the high season the hostel is usually maxed out and exceeding capacity. Earplugs, eyeshade, and at times sleeping pills are a must. Security is normally great because it's a bunch of people like yourself traveling around the world; no one steals your stuff, as they have enough to carry on their backs already. This is a great way to meet people, but I do my homework and read reviews before deciding on what I can tolerate. Some hostels are all night rave parties, others have a lights out curfew, I'm somewhere in between.
Now I know that a big part of traveling is experiencing the country you are in and that means eating the traditional food. Being a picky person I try what I feel comfortable testing, but also keep with the budget. Food for me is where I can save money, not needing a gelato or coffee every hour. I eat out once a day, if that, and find a market for fresh produce, fruits, yogurt, nuts, etc for meals the rest of the day. Most countries have specialties on the street for super cheap, so I hit that up as much as possible.
The cities that I choose to visit are largely based on sights I must see, recommendations from other fellow travelers, and sometimes you meet people and travel together on a whim (like going to Turkey). None of these ways have let me down thus far, but having a general idea helps keep the stress at bay. I like to have an idea where I will be sleeping or at least that I will be sleeping in a room with four walls!
Getting to where I need to be is probably the most stressful of the whole travel experience. It doesn't matter how many times I go to a bus or train station I always feel lost or confused. This is probably because I am never in the same station twice and even though it may be the same country none of them are at all organized or well mapped out. I spend at least 10mins walking in circles with my huge pack on my back trying to go in the right direction or find the proper bus or train. Even if I ask for assistance, the information desk is never nice! If you've chosen tourist information as your choice of employment can't you be kind to those asking questions?... Hello it's part of the job description!!
So far I have been traveling over 7 months without any major illnesses, thefts, losses, or serious worries. I consider that to be a combination of smarts, support, and just plain luck. With two months to go I can only hope its as great as the last seven! Italy here I come...