Backpacking isn’t all kebabs, self-discovery and beaches. Let’s take a quick look at the worst things about backpacking. Also, once you’ve read it, leave a comment with your own additions to this list. Just don’t forget to warn others of the profanities. (Also, warning – there’ll be some profanities).
1. Bed Bugs.
Look, everyone F’CKING hates bed bugs. They are the devil’s spawn. They are, figuratively, the crawling embodiments of everything evil in this world. They look like little brown bugs about half the size of a grain of rice, but they’re usually hidden in your bed. They come out at night and bite your vulnerable ass, leaving the most irritatingly itchy marks imaginable.
Usually the bites are in lines on a small patch of your body and they don’t appear until a few days after you’ve been bitten. These f’ckers aren’t really found in the developed parts of the world, but they’re common in South East Asia, South America, and Africa.
Try to get your hands on some Aloe Vera cream or Tiger Balm (the pseudo-cure for everything skin related) if you’re unfortunate enough to get bitten.
The fucking scams! Oh my god the scams! People charging you 5x the price for a ride 5 minutes down the road. Selling you shitty goods (and services) for high prices. Sometimes you might even buy a ticket for a train that doesn’t actually exist.
Just remember to do your research
Resource: the Expert Vagabond’s guide to scams abroad.
3. The Drinking.
The moment you watch someone vomit on a heritage listed 1000-year-old building after a pub crawl through the most majestic old town you’ve ever seen, you’ll know why drinking sucks as a backpacker. That is until you have another beer and forget all about it.
Fun fact: In Laos, stalls on the side of the road sell 50c whiskey that will send you blind after a few bottles – not really very fun.
4. The Sickness.
You eat that beautiful Pad Thai after you’ve stumbled your way down Thailand’s Koh San Road, and the next day you’re waging (and losing) a war with the toilet. Just hope you have a nice bed and a functioning flush for the few nights it takes for the sickness to pass.
Tip: Don’t buy the cheapest Anti-Malaria tablets, Doxycycline. Not great stuff.
People get their shit stolen all the time. It sucks. Just keep your important stuff in one of those security wallets that go under your t-shirt, and get a backpack you can lock. You are most certainly going to have your flip-flops stolen at some point.
Check out: my ultimate travel gear packing list!
6. The One Weirdo In Your Dorm.
I once stayed in a dorm room in Budapest. I woke up to a girl dressed in black with blonde hair walking around the dorm room at 3:00 in the morning. She was moving slowly and quietly but looking confused, she would stop over people’s beds and just look at them. As I sat up to ask what she was doing she walked out of the room. I went to the toilet, partly to see if she what she was doing, and she was just walking around the corridors of the hostel. I asked her if she was ok, she didn’t reply.
Eventually, she went to sleep in a bed in the same dorm room as me, and when I woke up she’d checked out.
(Likely sleep walking, but scared my to death)
Leave a comment below with a story of a weirdo in a dorm room you’ve stayed in.
7. Getting Lost.
This hypothetical situation sucks; You feel pretty bloody hopeless standing on the side of the road in the middle of fucking nowhere with nothing but your backpack, clothes and a half empty warm beer (it’s only 10:00am, grow up mate). Often with the difficult language barriers in some countries, you can find yourself stuck and lost with no idea where you are. Just remember to stay calm, get your bearings, ask for help and even find some wi-fi. Getting lost sucks, but it’s also one of the best things about travelling.
Tip: Do your research online first.
8. The early mornings
Either you have to wake up at 5:00am, after sleeping for only 3 hours (because you went on a pub crawl) to get on a bus OR, someone else wakes up at 5:00am and turns the fucking light on in your dorm room because they forgot to pack and they’re late for their bus. The morning hours are the least glorious time of day for a backpacker.
9. Border Crossings.
Not an issue in Europe, but when you’re crossing from Thailand to Cambodia for instance, there is a border crossing that will find you standing in line for over two hours waiting to get your passport stamped. All the while you’re hung-as-balls (hung over), exhausted because you had 3 hours sleep and stressed because you packed in a hurry so you didn’t miss your bus. Not to mention it’s hot enough to kill the snowman from Frozen.
10. Over Packing.
Everyone does it. Everyone is annoyed they did. It happens.
You can always throw things away though.
Every now and then, you catch a few flights right? Well once in a while, in between those flights, you have to wait fucking ages in some stupid airport. There’s only so many times you can look at the duty-free shops, realise you’re still poor and go back to reading or sleeping while you wait for your next flight.
12. Foam Mattresses
I just hate fucking foam mattresses. (Example of poor phrasing.)
13. People Having Sex In Your Dorm
So you wake up in your comfy-as-fuck (sarcasm) foam mattress at 3 in the morning because two people are trying to get it on as quietly as possible in the bunk across from you. Seriously, everyone’s just sitting there pretending to be asleep thinking “fuck, she’s not even really enjoying it mate!” This happens, it’s a thing. Earplugs are your friend.
5 minutes later, you’re just thinking “fuck I’m lonely.”
14. Trying To Have Sex In Your Dorm.
That one time you manage to put a few words together into something that resembles a sentence, which somehow manages to get someone from the opposite sex back to your hostel, what the fuck do you do then? That’s when the thought comes to mind, “Yes, we are clever and agile enough to do the deed without waking up the rest of the dorm.” (even though you’ve just drank 9 shots from a 50c bottle whisky).
15. Trying To Have Sex In Other Places.
Maybe you two are clever enough to realise that you’re not going to be able to ‘do it’ without waking everyone up. Firstly, you’re a great person, thank you. Secondly, where do you do it? Where ever you go, make sure you get a good story out of it while still being able to find your way home after.
I met a bloke who jumped out of the 2 story apartment window after almost being robbed by a lady-boy. Even with a broken leg, he made it back to the hostel, so can you.
Tip: Seriously though, be careful.
16. Being Treated Like A Backpacker.
Loooook… Backpackers aren’t necessarily represented as the best kind of people, mainly thanks to a loud (and drunk) minority – Australians and the British. So you do have to expect to be treated accordingly. In some parts of the world where tourism is a big factor in the economy, it’s hard to look past the reality that you are a walking source of income for the locals.
17. People Vomiting In Your Dorm.
I’m not even fucking going here…
18. Saying Goodbye.
It really is one of the hardest things about backpacking. All of those friends that you made, those mate’s you’ve shared some life-changing experiences with, sadly they will eventually part ways with you. Saying goodbye sucks, but it’s part of travelling.
The real question is: Is Solo Travel Lonely?
19. Missing Your Mates.
2 months have gone by and you’ve realised you missed your best mate’s birthday or your brothers first year of Uni. It sucks. (Shout out to my awesome younger brother, Dom). Feeling like you’re missing out, or just getting home sick, can be one of the great low points of travelling and backpacking. It never gets easier.
Tip: Skype helps, call ya mum.
20. Getting Close To Going Home.
Just like that it’s coming to an end. As much as you miss your mum and your comfy bed, you’re not really ready to go home, back to the real world. Sadly though, your flight is booked and you have no money left. That crushing feeling when you realise you have to go back to work/study is truly the worst.
21. Going Home.
Every backpacker knows that the hardest part is going home. Assimilating into society, especially after a long-term trip is pretty shaking. Backpackers find themselves with the Post-Travel Blues. Because even with these 21 things that kinda suck about backpacking, it’s still one of the best experiences in life.
The best part is you can always go travelling again.
Alternatively, you could cancel that flight, tell your boss you’re not coming home and try to travel with no money. Freedom.
If you enjoyed this post make sure you share it with your mates.
Also, don’t forget to call your mum.
Photo Credit: Piotr Naskrecki