In the last few years I’ve been asked some interesting questions relating to my backpacking. I thought it’d be worth posting some of these questions with the best answers I can offer. If there’s anything else you’d like to know feel free to contact me.
What motivates you to travel?
Great question because everyone has their own reasons for travelling. For me, it’s about fulfilling dreams and to be able to say yes, I’ve been there and done that. Ticking things off my bucket list. I have a passion for adventure, learning about other cultures, understanding history and meeting new friends on my journey.
How can you afford to travel for long periods?
Firstly, I’m fortunate to live in a country that has a reasonably strong currency so in many countries my money can go a long way. However, the cost of travel can add up so it’s important to save up and budget well once you’re on the road. Do your research and establish approximate daily costs before doing any serious planning.
What do you pack?
Another great question and one that deserves more than just a brief answer. There is no universal, definitive packing list because it depends on factors such as your location, season and planned activities. The golden rule though, regardless of anything else is travel light! If you only think you may need it then leave it behind because you probably won’t. As a helpful guide please refer to my recommended travel packing list.
Mount Beerwah, Queensland, Australia
How do you get around?
Obviously many destinations require a flight but once I’m there I always like to travel overland unless it’s logistically too difficult, time consuming or expensive. Taking local buses may not always be the most comfortable option but it’s an authentic budget travel experience. You get to see the countryside and interact with the local people.
Where do you stay?
This is a broad question that depends on a number of factors. In short though, the cheapest available option wherever I am. This is often a backpacker hostel or a room in a budget guesthouse. I’ve also slept in tents and overnight buses or trains. In more recent years I’ve joined Couchsurfing which is a great way to meet other likeminded people and make new friends.
When is the best time to visit places?
Your timing can depend on a number of factors but generally the most important one is the weather. For me, an optimal travel experience means not having to battle uncomfortable temperatures or excessive rain. It’s true that destinations can be more crowded in the best seasons so it’s important to consider spring and autumn in your travel planning.
Which countries have you travelled?
Everywhere in red!
What is your favourite country?
This is such a difficult question and I’m afraid there’s no clear answer. Every country is unique and offers something different. There is beauty in every destination, whether it is great sights, extraordinary culture, interesting cuisine or friendly people. My simple advice is not to arrive anywhere with preconceptions or unreasonable expectations.
Can you work overseas?
This is a complex question that can be dependent on visa arrangements but the short answer is yes. Teaching English is popular in many Asian countries and Australia is well known for its working holiday scheme. Sometimes you can do short term work to pay for your accommodation which leaves you more money for other things. Don’t forget that there are also many opportunities for volunteer work abroad.
Is independent or tour group travel best?
With my experience I will personally always opt for independent travel because it’s cheaper and options remain more flexible. However, being part of a tour group can be a good way to ease yourself into travel and there are plenty of options available. Sometimes combining the two travel styles is a great way to fully explore a country.
Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan
Does it get tiring?
As much as I love it - yes, budget travel can get tiring. Exhausting in fact. It’s important for first time travellers to understand that backpacking isn’t a relaxing holiday. If it was easy everyone would be doing it right? It’s a challenge but there’s a real sense of pride in completing an extended trip and you’ll soon be eager for the next one!
Is it ever dangerous?
I’d like to say no but travel does have some inherent risks to it. My experience of being held at knifepoint while demands were made for my camera are told in my travel story On a Knife Edge. Don’t worry though, this was a rare event and there are many precautions you can take to keep yourself and your possessions safe. Most of them are simple common sense and have been detailed on my Travel Safety page.
Do you have language problems?
Of course I do and my travel story Hasta Manana is a great example! It can be tricky sometimes but if you’re reading this then you have a big advantage. English is the global language, spoken by most other travellers and many locals on popular tourist trails. If you find yourself off the beaten path you always have options such as a few words of the local lingo, sign language, pointing and smiling.
Meeting the locals in Papua New Guinea
Do you meet many people travelling alone?
Solo travel is the best way to meet others! You’ll meet interesting and friendly people virtually every day. It’s a wonderful aspect of backpacking and the memories of these people will stay with you long after you arrive home. Travellers always seem to look out for each other so don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need something.
How do you adjust to life back home?
It can take some adjustment but personally I appreciate the sense of familiarity and stability that comes with arriving home. It’s a nice feeling knowing that you’ve become a more interesting person and contrary to what you may think, being able to add a backpacking trip to your resume looks impressive and is viewed very favourably by employers.
How long will you keep travelling for?
Interesting question and a long time yet I hope! My dream is to visit every continent on the planet and that includes Antarctica. There are more specific goals on my travel Bucket List which is my plan over the next few years. All I hope is that I can tick items off that list faster than I feel inspired to add new ones!