– “Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road” – Jack Kerouac
Press play first.
This music was one of those I listened a lot during my trip. When I’m listening to it, once this journey is now over, it’s one of those moments that makes me think about the endless hours of bus, train, fairy, tuktuk, bicycle and motorbike on bumpy and windy roads I’ve had, but also the immeasurable length of walking, swimming, snorkeling, riding, climbing and zip lining I’ve done, the matcheless mountains, caves, markets, temples, waterfalls, landscapes, sunrises, sunsets and beaches I’ve seen, the countless mosquito bites, scratches and bruises I’ve got on my body, the overflowing shakes, beers, buckets, shots and red bull I’ve drunk, the unlimited fried rice, noodle soup, pad thai, barbecues, toasties I’ve eaten, the balloons I’ve laugh with, the amazing parties, pool competitions, the crazy full moon I’ve had fun at. And the most important, the friends I’ve met along the road and who have done this trip incredible, unbelievable, and unforgettable . Anyway, it makes me nostalgic. 3 months in South East Asia as a backpacker never can be forgotten. Here is why.
We are called by many words. Travelers, by default. But we like to be called Backpackers. Nomads. Explorers. Globetrotters. Adventurers. Wayfarers. Wanderers. We’ve adopted them all ! Alright … maybe not. DO NOT call us Tourists ! We don’t like that word. Don’t make me wrong. We treat them with respect but we consider ourselves radically different.
We are Backpackers. We have the inability to stay in one place.
That is who we are, and that’s just the gist of it.
We come from all walks of life.
From bustling big cities, sunny beach towns, colorful islands, snow-covered metropolises, to small villages hidden in the green mountain-forest. Whether we are student, young graduate, job seeker, active worker or pensioner. Whether we are single or in a relationship. We come from everywhere. But the natural force of attraction – called gravity – always brings us to the same place. The road.
We see the world. Not what we have come to see.
We open our eyes to everything. The world is a mind-blowing place to us. And wherever we are, whatever we have, whoever we are with, or whatever we do, we hang on to that thought. Every time we travel, it’s not another place in the world. It’s another world to every place we go.
We value courage more than money.
We are not rich, we are not financially secure and we don’t travel for luxury. Our money does not come from rich parents, trust funds or any other privileges you think we have in order to maintain a life of travel. We sacrifice a large part of our social life, we refuse some luxuries knowing that every penny saved will be triple during our trip. We work hard, or work while we travel and save the most of it. Some of us quite the job they worked 5 years for, only to live this life I’m telling you about. We’re happy living with barely enough as long as we’re on the road.
We have learned to live without comfort.
We have given up plenty of modern conveniences for the sake of travel. We would rather choose a dorm bed in a cheap hostel or a guesthouse, a couch, a hammock, a tent or concrete floor. We phased out our comfort zone. We have slept in night boats, trains or buses, in bamboo huts without a/c, in tree houses, in home stays with locals, at the airport, on a bench or on the beach in the open. The uncomfortable becomes comfortable to us. We don’t care about mosquito bites, scratches or bruises. Every single one of them is the mark of an adventure out there. We don’t spend our money on things we don’t need. We don’t buy many things, we don’t let things own us. We’ve learned that the less things we have, the better we live. And that’s also true: try to walk with a 20kg backpack.
We feel the most alive when we’re on the road.
Living with nothing but our possessions in a backpack and constantly moving. Anything is possible when we arrive in a place we’ve never been before, as if we surrender ourselves to the current of the universe. New place, new friends, new daily life, new atmosphere, new story, new chapter. We create real relationships between us even when we know we may never see each other again. We live, we smile, we laugh, we kiss, we hug, we love, we say goodbye and cry sometimes, but it starts all over again for our greatest happiness. Every new step is a fresh start, we never know what day it is. We are lead by freedom and the word impossible no longer exists to us.
We are fascinated by every culture.
We immerse ourselves to every experience. We take everything that each country in the world has to offer. We don’t reject anything. Every single adventure is a chance to learn more about human being. We pay attention to local populations, their way of life, their behaviors, manners, and public decency. We imagine how life would be and how it would feel like to become a part of it. We are humble, tolerant and respect them as it’s our way to taste the fullness of life.
We’ve learned to not let misadventures get the best of us and ruin our days. We believe that in any given moment, we have the choice to be affected by whatever problems come our way, or just simply accept it. We’ve grown to choose the latter. It’s hard sometimes but it’s part of the journey. We always look bright side and at the end, smile or laugh about it. We’re not afraid of troubles even if we are traveling alone most of the time. Nothing seems unsurmountable as we have learned to overcome our fears.
We follow wherever the next sunrise and sunset take us.
Opening our eyes in a place we’ve never been before is one the most pleasant feeling in the world. We feel uphoria when we wake up in a country and fall asleep in another. We are guided by the stars. When we look up the night sky and the infinity of galaxy, we know that wherever we are and whoever we are without, we are never really alone. We fall in love with freedom.
We devote our hearts to the road.
Even when we are not on it, we work to save up for our next trip. Every time we hear about travels, we smile and imagine ourselves on it. Every little thing can make us think about that road trip we are so looking forward to, and it can makes us sad sometimes. But we know that the day is coming soon, and that hope keep us strength. We go to bookstores to browse through the travel section, pick out travel guides, sit there, marvel at photographies and daydream about our future travels. Our minds constantly drift away to the next destination on our bucket list. Our wanderlust is insatiable.
We travel not just to go, we travel to evolve.
Grasping each new experiences, endlessly changing horizons as a way of life. We move forward unrestrainedly, we follow our spontaneity. We live for road trips. We leave our hearts in many places. We say yes to life. We say yes to adventure. We see the world out there through every windows, on every roads. We open ourselves up to the world and discover our true selves.
And so here’s the truth. We travel not just to marvel at people, places or things. That’s not just it, that was never just it and that will never be just it. We travel to learn, to experience, and to feel all the facets of human being in this world. Each journey has its truth. And it’s that truth that illuminates us as we go on with that road we call home.
So what is your truth? How did/do you feel about traveling as a backpacker?