Backpacking has become an extremely popular form of traveling over the past decade especially for people taking a gap year as they prepare for life in higher education, or the rigors of a full time career. For the vast majority, having to scrimp and scrape along the way – employing cost-cutting measures to their travel is part–and-parcel of backpacking.
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.
The W Trek in Torres del Paine, Chile was one of the greatest treks I’ve ever been on. It captures the essence of Patagonia and is one of the premier hikes in all of South America.
During my research beforehand, I found some bits of info here and there but nothing very comprehensive. By the time we arrived in Puerto Natales, we only had a very general idea of what we needed for the trek and ended up scrambling to get everything in order. To save you that trouble, I’m going to write down everything you need for the W trek right here, right now.
I toiled through four years of high school Spanish and never did I think that it would be useful someday. At the time, it was just another class that I needed to graduate. I was really never great at it, let alone good. I failed pretty much every telenovela quiz, didn’t (and still don’t) understand the subjunctive phrase, and could barely roll my R’s. Growing up in California, you meet your fair share of Hispanic people but I didn’t ever think I would actually have to be proficient Spanish.
Backpacking to me is not only about the places you go and the things you do. A huge part of it are all the amazing people you meet along the way. It’s not often that you get to meet people from all over the world, who are seeing the same new things as you, and who are in the same mindset of having fun.
But where exactly does one go to meet these other backpackers? Luckily, most major tourist places have figured this out long ago: hostels. Nothing like the horror scenes depicted in the movie “Hostel”, hostels are actually one of my favorite parts about traveling.