Dec 2015 was when I decided to take up a job in Sydney Australia. I was excited to live and work in a new country, very much different than Canada or India. Discovering a city as gorgeous as Sydney was nothing less than a dreamy experience but today I won’t talk about that because that was just discovering a city unlike what I discovered later – “Backpacking ”
In the last 2 years I have backpacked through 5 different countries and lived in more than 10 cities. Travelling had a different meaning for me until I stumbled upon this new venture. I discovered the difference between visiting a place versus backpacking a country. To me travelling was to pick up a new city, book a 4/5 star resort and tick off the Trip Adviser top 5 places to see. I grew up knowing this only method of travelling which is fine and relaxing but as the famous quote says
“Life happens to you while you are busy making other plans”
This is how I discovered the enriching experience of Backpacking which have helped me a lot to grow and understand people around me.
The Simple difference between visiting a holiday resort, ticking off the top 10 spots and backpacking through a country is that it forces you to walk out of your well sheltered fictitious social circle – in other words it pushes you to walk outside your comfort zone.
I have realized that Backpacking is not just a leisurely act which we should do on our Weekends off or on a quick Holiday Break. Backpacking is a learning experience where we can get educated on people, cultures, lifestyles, history and learn about compassion, egos, ideas and much more practical and valuable life lessons.
I grew up in a typical middle class lifestyle where security and materialistic consumption’s with instant gratification consumes most of our lives. It is not a Rant because we don’t know any other way but this lifestyle creates a lot of preconceived notions in our mind as we don’t have access to anything new or get a counter question perspective. Well after backpacking most of my engraved thoughts and beliefs got demolished as I started asking questions to myself which was never needed before.
You have often heard people saying “I have grown a lot after traveling” and I reckon the simple meaning is that Travelling helped their thinking process and mindset to expand a lot.
The only goal while backpacking for me was to explore as much new places as I can while connecting with people from different parts of the world. I was busy trying to understand the local cultures, lifestyles, customs, beliefs and also trying a lot of different foods (some really gross one). But the more interesting part was to learn the stories and the reasons behind backpacking from other expats or nomads (as they call themselves).
Some are trying to pursue their passion, some are finding their passion, and some are just taking a break from their routine lives while some are trying to find a life on the road. There are people who came travelling after a bad breakup and there are some who is trying to find love while exploring the world. These Ordinary people had different reasons and some unique stories of their lives which made them Extraordinariness.
Countries like Cambodia and Vietnam taught me about their brutal history which was never known to me. The NGOs and the social workers working in these countries gave me a different perspective on world view and politics.
After travelling for 6 months in South East Asia I learnt how to budget and figure out my priorities which included not to visit expensive restaurants or fancy bars in other words I got smarter with my money and learnt the value of currencies.
But the most Effective Experience for me was to meet passionate people who somehow found the secret of living life in their own terms and not complaining about the hardships they face on their way. They were content and happy with their life choices by following their instincts and passion.
People who have moved from western countries and set up a businesses in Asia and helping the economy to sustain, People who are working with NGOs to help recover a cause, people who are working against child abuse or sex trafficking in underdeveloped countries, People who are teaching children in poor villages after passing out from posh universities. People who left their high paying regular jobs and now travelling on the road blogging, taking pictures, working online as free lancers Or all those artist who are busking on the streets in order to get that one break and all those Expats who are trying to make a little difference by helping out the underprivileged. So now I don’t have a successful celebrity figure to look up at as I have found some ordinary real people in life. I get inspired on a daily basis by people around me.
In the end everyone will have a different experience through their journeys and this was mine but my intent on writing this piece was to highlight on how important backpacking is for a growing mind. It helps us understand a different views on life by sharing our unique ideas and stories. You might not be able to understand the meaning of life after this but this will certainly be a part of your decision making in the future and it will help you on your critical thinking process by asking questions to yourself and others.
Is it too late for backpacking? There is no right age or time for this experience, I have met newly married couples on the road to parents with their young kids driving around a country. The group of friends or the solo travelers everyone have their own agendas on what to discover on the road. What I a have learnt is that it’s never too late but don’t start your backpacking trip out of pressure because this is something you should experience when you are ready for it.
Backpacking gave me invaluable life skills. Communication and Interaction with different people, Time Management, Organization, and Value of Money are just a few which made me more street smart. The most important lesson was that I found out a lot about myself as I was living outside my comfort zone taking some of the hardest decisions of my life every single day and learning new skills by connecting with some amazing people from different parts of this world.
Just a thought by Shak