– Written by Victoria Philpott
Backpacking is another world. A world of no schedules, new friends every day, freedom, festivals, love, fun, extreme adventures and doing whatever the hell takes your fancy that day. But even if you start your backpacking adventure as a normal person, as the weeks turn to months I can guarantee you’ll start to become… A REAL BACKPACKER. You’ll feel it happening as you tick off more of this list…
1. You only know what day of the week it is by the drinks deals going on in the local bar.
2. Discovering a few squirts in a leftover shampoo bottle in the shower is a real find.
3. You’ve forgotten about those little things called socks, or shoes, or stress, or parents.
4. You can barely make out your face (boys) or legs (girls) for the excessive hair you’ve nurtured and encouraged.
5. Or your wrist from all the pieces of string and random bangles you’ve got snaking up your arm. Or even small patches on skin where you’ve got tattoos to commemorate something, you’ve forgotten what.
6. Jumping out of planes, off bridges or from mountains attached to a metal and parachute structure is just a normal day out.
7. Your bunk bed rocking from the couple below enjoying themselves doesn’t disgust you, or even anger you; it just sends you into a lovely sleep.
8. You’ve invented a simple sniff test to check whether your clothes are wearable, and the standards get lower as the days go by.
9. At least you can wash them in the sea, yes, you believe that counts.
10. A day without drinking is like a day without breathing; it doesn’t happen.
11. Your Facebook is updated every day with ‘X is now friends with X’ and you surpassed the four-figures of friends mark long ago.
12. All that matters to you on the HostelBookers website is the sort by ‘room price: low to high’ function. And you only consider the top two.
13. You see the word ‘FREE’ and you don’t care what it is or how you get it, you just take as much of it as possible.
14. You’ve learned to play the guitar/ukulele/dread hair/juggle/play with fire/walk over hot coals, or other.
15. You vow to never, ever get a 9-5 job in an office ever.
16. You know everywhere with free Wi-Fi within a three-mile radius.
17. You’ve read Shantaram.
18. You try with the local language, but so far you’ve only got ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘two beers please’ on your repertoire.
19. You’d happily eat bread and berries from trees if it means you’ve got more money for beers on the beach.
20. Opting for a 20-hour bus journey with no bathroom facilities across rickety Thai roads is the obvious choice over paying an extra €50 for a 2-hour flight.
21. You can’t imagine life before backpacking, and to try makes your stomach lurch and you get into a bit of a cold sweat.
How did you score?
Score 1-5? You’re just on a little holiday, awww hope you’re having fun!
6-11? I think I can smell you from here, I bet you left home about six weeks ago right?
12-16? Definitely approaching Real Backpackers status, but you’re just a little too generous with the £$€ and if you haven’t bungee jumped, go do it now!
17-21? I am so PROUD! Well done my little backpacking cherub. You are a Real Backpacker with dreads, bracelets, friends from around the world and no care for a life without travelling. Applaud yourself, and get a tattoo to mark this momentous occasion.
Any other backpacker traits I’ve missed out? Let me know in the comments box below…
Thanks to lindyi, keithusc, AlphaTangoBravo / Adam Baker, Pink Sherbet Photography, vagabondquest.com for the excellent images from Flickr. Please note, all images were used under the Creative Commons License at the time of posting.