We will never be able to see all there is to see in the amazing world that we live on, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t try, right? Travelling is a great way to spend your time, as it allows to see some of what the rest of the world has to offer, rather than just the small town or city that you call home. If you’re a fan of travel, then you might have considered going backpacking at some point. In case you don’t know what that is, backpacking is when you travel around carrying what little luggage you have in a backpack. If you’re camping, this will include a small tent and camp essentials. Of course, backpacking isn’t for everyone, so if you’re on the fence, then reading some of these pros and cons might help you make up your mind.
Con – You Travel Blind
When you go on a regular holiday, you know where you’re staying, when you check in, and when you check out. With backpacking, unless you’ve done a lot of research and planning, you don’t always know where you’re going to be sleeping each night, which can be pretty scary for people that thrive on routine and solid plans.
Pro – You Leave Behind All The Bad Stuff
Life isn’t perfect; This is something that everyone, young or old, probably knows. Every day, all you need to do is turn on the news, and you see wars, famine, terrorism, racism, illness, death and so much more. You might even have some pretty heavy stuff going on in your own life. When you go backpacking, you can avoid the news and social media pretty easily, so you’re exposed to less of all of this heartbreaking news.
Con – You Get Homesick
Some people get homesick going on a short holiday in the city and staying in a swanky hotel, so no one would blame you for feeling a little uneasy while backpacking. This homesickness is even worse if you travel alone, so if that was your plan, you should consider whether or not you’re going to be able to cope not knowing anyone.
Pro – Your Confidence Grows
If you are not very confident, and your social skills aren’t great, then backpacking might be a big no-no for you, but you shouldn’t dismiss it so quickly. When you’re travelling, especially alone, you have to speak to people, so if you thrive under pressure, then you will quickly get the hang of it. Sometimes you can even meet people on your travels that become lifelong friends. You don’t have anyone to tell you what to do when you’re backpacking; you just have to do it.
Con – Limited Packing Space
When you go backpacking, you can only take what will fit in your backpack and your pockets. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a little materialistic, but if you are, then backpacking is going to be difficult for you. You are only going to be able to take a few outfits, which you’ll have to rewear and wash whenever you can, and anything that you don’t absolutely need will have to be left at home because it just won’t fit in your bag.
Pro – No Restrictions
Apart from the packing space, there are few restrictions when you go backpacking. If you have a tent or can rent one, then you can camp pretty much whenever you want for however long you want (as long as it’s legal to do so, of course). If you wanted to sleep in a bed, you could easily find a cheap hotel or hostel. You might even make some friends while you’re away, in which case you could sleep on their sofa for a night or two. The freedom is amazing, and the possibilities are endless.
Con – The Bag Is Heavy
Even if you only pack the bare essentials, it’s highly likely that your backpack is still going to be fairly heavy, and will only feel heavier as the time goes on, especially if you injure your back. For some people, the weight of the bag alone and the fact that you’re going to have to carry it all day every day is enough to put them off backpacking. To avoid this, you should practice carrying your bag for a few weeks before you go away. It might seem silly, but it will get you used to carrying the weight, rather than shocking you on the first day of your trip.
Pro – It Can Be Cheaper
Backpacking, even if you’re travelling for a few weeks, can often be a lot cheaper than a typical week-long holiday. There are many reasons for this. Firstly, you are getting rid of one of the biggest expenses of a holiday, which is the hotel; Even if you travel for longer, the cost of a tent pitch or hostel is going to be less than your typical hotel. You are also going to save money on luggage, travel agent fees, and souvenir shopping, because you won’t be able to fit many in your bag.
Con – You Can’t Buy Souvenirs
Everyone splurges on souvenirs when they go on holiday. If you go to Paris, you’re going to get a miniature Eiffel Tower and key ring versions for all of your family. If you’re staying by the sea, you’re going to buy everyone back home friendship bracelets from the stalls by the beach, and get yourself an incredibly overpriced little jar of sand with the destination stamped on the front. You can’t do this when you go backpacking because you don’t have enough bag room for random souvenirs.
Pro – You Can’t Buy Souvenirs
It might be sad to hear, but you don’t actually need to buy all of the random junk that people sell as souvenirs. No one back home is going to be expecting anything from you, so why waste your money? When you go backpacking, you can’t buy lots of souvenirs, so you will save a lot of cash, that can be spent better elsewhere. Rather than buy lots of stuff, take pictures and write about your journey in a journal. You will care about this a lot more in the future.
Con – Lack of Hygiene
If you shower every single day and take regular baths, then backpacking is going to be a big wake up call for you. You probably won’t see a bath for a long time, if at all, so get used to walk in showers. You also won’t be able to shower as frequently as you are used to, and even if, by some miracle, you can, you will rewear your clothes so much that a shower is pretty much pointless.
Pro – The Experience
Travelling, in general, is amazing, but there’s just something special about backpacking. Rather than just visiting and observing places, you will properly experience them, which, trust me, makes all the difference. When you go on a regular holiday, you usually stick to tourist spots, but when you go backpacking, you can do whatever you want whenever you want, so you are more likely to get an authentic experience. You aren’t restricted to any one place either, so if, for some reason, you don’t like a certain place or feel like you’ve seen everything, you can simply move on to somewhere else.
Backpacking is a phenomenal experience, but, like everything else in life, it does have its downsides. Weigh up all of the pros and cons before you make any solid plans, and decide objectively if backpacking is for you or not.