I am not the backpacker type of tourist. I love comfort and I love to have my hands free while exploring a new place. But because a person has to do everything in life, I eventually found myself backpacking in Europe. It wasn’t a long trip, but it was a trip which taught me a lot of things about myself and about traveling as a whole.
1. A smile can go a long way
I am not a friendly person and I consider myself to be an introvert. So smiling to strangers is not my thing. But guess what? A smile can get you a lot of valuable things on the road. The first time I learned that was on a cold night in Slovenia, when I was trying to find a place to stay. Due to a number of circumstances I had to beg for a room in an overcrowded hostel. A big smile cracked the receptionist’s ice-cold heart and I was put in a better room than I paid for.
Extra tip: learn how to say thank you in the local language.
2. Take care of the basics
Before you book tours and buses make sure you have a place to sleep, something to eat and warmth. If you are in a beautiful place, but you are hungry, you won’t enjoy the place.
3. Speaking of basics…
When you are backpacking your definition of basic needs changes a lot. At home, I considered WiFi to be a basic need – on the road, food and a bed were the basics. You will also have to wear the same clothes more than a day, so prepare to be more flexible about your personal hygiene as well.
4. Use your common sense
We are taught not to talk to strangers, which is a correct thing. But on the road you should talk with other travelers. However, use your common sense and make sure you are picky about whom you talk to. I was lucky to meet wonderful people, who were happy to share their own travel stories, but there are plenty of hustlers out there, so watch out!
5. Get some “me” time
I was traveling with my friends, which was great, because we could share this amazing experience. But there were times when we had to spend some time alone. This was because we managed to annoy each other to a whole new level. If we didn’t get some space and spend some time alone, I am pretty sure we would have murdered each other.
6. Be prepared to see some very crazy things
In Austria I had to spend the night in a guesthouse and I shared the room with 4 other people. Nothing strange about it, right? Well, two of those people were having sexy time, right above my head (we had bunk beds). No comments!
7. Be ready for everything
Traveling is a challenge! When you travel you experience life, without the safety net that is your family and your comfort zone. You are exposed and you have to rely on yourself to solve any problem you may have. This means you have to be ready for everything! Embrace the unknown and take each thing as it comes. This is how traveling works and it’s amazing!