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5 lessons you learn about yourself when backpacking

2019 February 8
by Paul

There’s no denying travel is an amazing opportunity. Seeing the world – wherever you choose to go – is something many of us want to do. Of course, the benefits of backpacking are numerous. Experiencing different cultures, making new friends, exploring new landscapes, seeing varied wildlife. The list could go on.

But what do all these benefits give us? What do we really learn about ourselves when we head off into the unknown?

Here are some ideas:

Confidence

Our limits are only what we make them. And travel has a way of pushing our boundaries and comfort zones. The result is an undeniable – and recognizable – change in confidence. Whether you were sure of yourself before or not, getting away and doing new things will show you just how much you’re capable of.

That some things are worth planning…

Did you know one week in a USA hospital can cost over $30,000? Wherever you’re travelling from, you probably have some comfort of knowing you could get help if you needed it. To get any kind of help when you travel, it’s wise to get insurance.

You’ll also need to plan visas, vaccinations and other boring things.

…and others aren’t

But once you’ve got the essentials out of the way, how much you plan is up to you. It’s good to have an idea of the countries and places you’d love to see, but it’s also fun to see where your trip takes you. It’s good to be flexible enough to say yes to opportunities as they arise. Just know what your essential must-sees are, and what you’re willing to go home without seeing or doing.

Patience

You’ll stay in weird hostels, you might miss a connecting flight, you could lose something or have a day or two when you miss home. It all happens. Travel isn’t non-stop fun. In fact, this is when some people say you learn the most – when you’re at what feels like the edge of your mental and physical limits.

But the whole point is you get through it all. You learn to reveal in uncertainty and become comfortable in situations that make other people stressed. Problem-solving even gives some a little rush of dopamine – getting themselves out of tricky situations creatively.

A new perspective

Many travel bloggers say that when we travel we quickly move from being the majority to the minority. A lot of what we know and what we’re used to is stripped from us. But what we gain is an appreciation of different cultures – and their history.

After all, it’s what shapes their belief system. It’s what influences the way they dress, act, talk and so on. Travel opens our eyes to new perspectives on life that make our own more universal.

What have you learnt when backpacking? Share your stories with us.

 

Once Upon a Time in Turkey

2017 May 8
Istanbul, Turkey

Snow covered Istanbul.

They say in life, timing is everything. Travel is no exception.

Yearly seasons determine where summer birds flock for somewhere warm and snow lovers somewhere cold. Annual events like Mardi Gras and Carnival draw people from all over the world. Places that are great for solo travel may be tough with a family and hikes that someone could’ve tackled in their youth may be impossible in their 50’s.

Timing also affects entire countries. Those that are rapidly developing may completely transform in 5-10 years while unexpected events in geopolitics may change things even faster.

read more…

Strange Hostels and Surviving Concepción

2016 March 3
Concepción, Nicaragua

The first view of Concepción, Isla Ometepe.

I watched as the perfectly symmetrical cone shaped volcano appeared in the distance. Isla Ometepe lay ahead as we rocked back and forth on the gentle waves of Lago Nicaragua. After I had hurriedly passed through Leon and Grenada, I was looking forward to spending a couple of days chilling on an island.

Ometepe is defined by its two volcanoes: Concepción to the north and Maderas in the south. There’s a road around each and a smaller road that connects the two. The Nicaraguans have turned large tracts of the northern island into arable farmland but much of the island still belonged to the jungle. As the rickety old wooden boat slowly plodded it’s way to the main port, I knew this wasn’t going to be an island packed with resorts and first world comforts.

No, this was going to be a bit more raw.

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5 Days, 3 Cities, 2 Volcanoes: Only in Nicaragua

2016 February 8
by Paul
Nicaragua

Flying into Managua, Nicaragua.

I get the feeling that Nicaragua is sort of the bastard child of Central America. It’s not as overlooked as El Salvador, but then again, not many countries are overlooked as much as El Salvador.

North of Nicaragua, Guatemala is often viewed as the highlight of Central America with it’s beautiful colonial towns, lakes, and Tikal ruins. Belize offers the stunningly blue and warm Caribbean waters and Honduras, while plagued with violence, has arguably the best diving in the region. To the south, Costa Rica is an eco-tourists’ wet dream and the Latin playground for gringos (which made it, in my opinion, sort of a shit hole) while Panama has it’s gorgeous islands and the world famous Panama Canal.

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Paris, France: November 13, 2015

2015 November 18
by Paul

Paris, November 13, 2015

November 13, 2015 will go down in French history as their 9/11. It will be remembered as the day that everything changed, the day that innocence was lost.

France has certainly suffered in the past from attacks like the Charlie Hebdo shootings but what happened that night was something far more sinister, far more evil than anything since World War II. It was a senseless, barbaric attack where the motive was to murder for the sake of murder. 130 people died, with hundreds more injured for no sane reason.

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Why Facebook is Ruining Hostels

2015 April 27
Nomadas, Merida, Mexico

How a hostel should be. New Years Eve 2014, Merida, Mexico.

I recently took a trip to Nicaragua while between jobs. It was only for 10 days but I managed to see a lot and get a good sense of the country. It also happened to be the first time traveling alone in a long time.

Since I was traveling alone, I ended up staying in hostels. As I’ve written in the past, hostels are great. They are places where you can meet like-minded people that want to do like-minded things. Sometimes you get the raw end of the stick and end up in a dark, cramped, dorm room but more often than not, they are one of the highlights of a trip.

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Brazil, The World Cup, and Traveling With Your Bros

2014 September 16
Cristo Redentor

Cristo Redentor, it never gets old.

About a year ago, four of my friends and I had the idea of going to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup. It was one of those things that seemed doomed from the very beginning: coordinating vacation time, getting visas, finding accommodation during the world’s largest sporting event, and getting the expensive flights were just a few of the many obstacles.

Personally, I didn’t have much faith that we would actually get our shit together and pull it off. Planning a trip by yourself is one thing, corralling a bunch of cats and dogs to do the same is another. But little by little, the plan came together: we bought our flights, won the match ticket lottery, got our visas, and booked the accommodation.

As the days ticked down to my departure date, I realized that I was soon to be in Brazil, often said to be the spiritual center of football, for the greatest sporting event in the world, with four of my best friends. This was going to be a whole ‘nother level.

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