Backpackers are (generally) adventurous, open minded and outgoing. After all, it takes a lot of courage to leave family and friends and jet off into the unknown. This is why some people are so flabbergasted by the concept of packing up and leaving home. They simply can’t even begin to comprehend why we do it.
Here are a few comments often made to travellers that really grind my gears.
“You can’t put off the ‘real world’ forever”
The ‘real world’ – in my experience – is explained as getting a job, buying a house, getting married and having babies.
Now don’t get me wrong, this is absolutely acceptable! Everyone is different and the world would be a very boring place if we all had the same values and beliefs.
But what I don’t understand, is why travelling is not considered ‘the real world.’Surely what I experienced on the other side of the globe is far more real than my sheltered life at home? I was faced with lots of different facets of the real world’ while away.
In history class at school I learned about wars and famine. But visiting the places actually affected by these terrible things brought meaning to those lessons.
I have visited Vietnam, and the Killing Fields in Cambodia. If that isn’t a slap in the face with reality of what other cultures have had to – and still do – endure, then I don’t know what is.
Some other versions of the ‘real world’ are a lot less luxurious than ours, and visiting them really puts into perspective how lucky I am to come from the world I do.
“What about if you run out of money?”
I won’t run out of money. Because I’m sensible.
Sure, I’d be lying if I said this question didn’t keep me awake at night whenever I had a trip booked. What I had to remind myself was that you can never plan for the opportunities that might arise when you’re away. You never know who you’re going to meet or what they’ll have to offer.
It’s worth remembering that jobs exist outside of England, and you can earn some extra money while you travel. Whether it was cleaning my hostel for free accommodation or applying for a working holiday visa and working as a waitress, there were always opportunities to make my money last a bit longer.
“What about the gap on your CV?”
This one actually used to worry me slightly. I was brought up to believe that any gap in an employment history is scrutinised. But in my experience, the time I have spent away from home has actually benefited my success rate with job offers.
Every interview I have had since travelling has involved questions about my time abroad. Even when it was completely irrelevant to the job!
The truth is that people like to hear about travelling. They see an exciting place I’ve visited and use the opportunity to ask me about it. It’s a fantastic ice breaker and can really help settle the nerves during a very formal meeting.
“Don’t you want to settle down?”
Of course I wanted to settle down. Eventually! But I wasn’t going to force myself to settle down with any old Tom, Dick or Harry. Unfortunately, I hadn’t met anyone in my home town worth settling down with.
I couldn’t think of a better way to meet someone likeminded and with the same interests as me than by doing what I love most: backpacking.
And then, I did.
He was my neighbour in a guest house in Thailand. So now I really am ‘settled down.’We’re married, have backpacking adventures together and we’re deliriously happy. Thank you, travelling!
“You should really think about investing in your future”
Actually, I was. I’m not the first person to say that memories are worth more than money, and I won’t be the last!
I grew up a lot while travelling. I was in charge of my own well being. I had to organise myself with money, transport, a place to stay and I had to keep my wits about me. I would consider that investing in my future. I was learning important life skills.
I’ve also never understood the urgency many people feel in life. What’s the rush? I don’t have a five year plan. I don’t even know what I’m having for dinner tonight, let alone what I’ll be doing five years down the line! I just want to have fun.
It’s never too late to start thinking about the future. But I believe in living in the present. You never know what’s around the corner.
“I suppose it’s good to get it out of your system”
I always found this comment to be the most negative. It’s something people usually say when you’re doing something wrong.
Travelling was something I needed to do. And to be fair, maybe once would have been enough. But I wouldn’t describe it as ‘getting it out of my system.’ That belittles my adventure. And people who use this phrase have clearly never heard of the travel bug.
If anything, travelling made me crave more. More knowledge, more adventures, more from life.
Travelling actually got into my system, not out of it! And I don’t plan on stopping any time soon.