Why go backpacking at least once in your life?
It is not everyone’s cup of tea to travel as a backpacker, however, it is one of those experiences we should have, at least once in a lifetime. At first, it may seem uncomfortable. It is a way of travelling that is very rich in adventure because it fills our mind and our diaries with memories, challenges and experiences that in other ways of travelling we don’t usually have. It also challenges us. It takes us out of our comfort zone, it forces us to see the world in a different way and to walk at a different pace. Usually, the first days are complicated, but as mornings pass and we collect sunsets, we also grow and mature, even as adults.
We learn basic things, such as making our luggage lighter and carrying only the essentials. It seems to be a metaphor for how to walk around the world, to review which ones are the things we really need. We also visit cities in a different way. We usually get lost and while we find the way, we walk around the corners and the places that are not usually marked on tourist maps. We meet new people; we have unexpected conversations and sometimes we even have an epiphany.
It is very common that when we talk to those who have gone out in search of these adventures, they tell us about those revealing afternoons, about how much they grew up and how much their world view was broadened. This kind of knowledge can rarely be measured, but it certainly becomes part of us, because it gives us a wider view of the world, it allows us to see the world from a kaleidoscope-like point of view and to understand that there is not one but infinite ways to see the world. We become a sort of global citizen, more democratic, more humane, kinder and more empathetic. These are lessons that come from outside the academic classroom. They are necessary. When we return to our daily lives, they enrich us and all those around us.
There are many places in the world where this type of tourism is very enriching, not only for the travellers but also for the communities that receive them and that enjoy sharing their culture, sitting down with the visitors at the table and offering them not only their delicacies but also their traditions. This exercise of listening to them, of thanking them for their welcoming attitude, of knowing we are guests, is one of the most enriching experiences I know.
It’s worth taking a map and looking for a new, different and unfamiliar place, reading and learning about it, and planning a journey that is not organized to the last detail so as to leave opportunity for adventure and improvisation. The challenges that appear on that path may seem complicated at first, but with experience comes rhythm and we learn to walk more confidently regarding who we are and who we want to become. This is ultimately the true teaching of travel: who we want to be in the world and how we want to behave as part of it.
by Laura Bak