Last Updated: 10/10/20 | October 10th, 2020
Backpacking. It’s more than just slinging a pack over your shoulder and setting off into the wild blue yonder. It’s a way of seeing the world and interacting with it. It embraces chaos, challenges, and serendipity. It’s wanting to get under the skin of a destination, to get out of your comfort zone, to try new foods, meet new people, and skip the fancy resorts.
Backpacking isn’t a vacation. It’s an adventure.
It’s a way of life.
When people ask me what kind of traveler I am, I always say I’m a backpacker. It’s just who I am as a person. Even as I get older, it’s a style of travel I continue to identify with.
But how do you know if you’re a backpacker at heart?
Here are 47 tell-tale signs that you too might be backpacker:
You don’t know what to write down when asked for your permanent address.
You don’t know what to write down for occupation on the customs forms.
Pasta has been your main meal for months in the hostel kitchen. Sometimes you mix it up by putting chicken in it.
You also live on rice, trail mix, and other cheap foods.
You wear the same shirt for a week (or longer).
You wear the same jeans for two weeks.
You do your laundry in hostel sinks.
Everything you own fits into one pack.
You think nothing of sharing a room with the stranger you just met five minutes ago.
Hot water is often seen as a luxury.
So is a comfy bed.
So is a bathroom IN your room.
So is air conditioning.
You will sleep anywhere as long as it is cheap and bed bug free.
You have a warped sense of cost. Three dollars for a room? Great deal! Three dollars for a meal? Outrageous! Five dollars for an Uber? I’ll walk the extra thirty minutes.
When you go back home, you find it weird that you can’t haggle over prices.
You can’t sleep without earplugs anymore, even if no one is snoring.
You haven’t slept in a room by yourself since you left home.
You can never remember what day of the week it is.
Or the month.
You’re excellent at using hand signs and pantomiming for things you want.
You ask people where they’re from before you ask them what their name is, and you remember them according to where they came from.
No matter where you go, the beer is never cheap enough.
You have permanent flip-flop tan lines on your feet.
You find it odd to be surrounded by people who have the same accent as you.
You can say “cheers” in more languages than you’d like to admit.
You are pleasantly surprised when you find toilet paper in the bathroom.
You believe that a good shower constitutes running water.
You have learned to say “beer” in 10 languages.
You fill your pockets with as many bread rolls and jam packets from the free breakfast as you can so you can eat lunch today.
You haven’t showered without flip-flops in months.
Your budget revolves around how much alcohol you can buy in one night.
You plan your travel around getting free accommodation on a train, plane, or bus.
You’ll spend a night in an airport to save money.
You know the nationality of everyone in the hostel just by looking at their backpacks.
You’re permanently tired.
You see a television as a luxury and a waste of time.
But you instantly want to become best friends with someone that has Netflix subscription with them!
You still think the three shirts you have been wearing for the past 6 months are fashionable.
You have fisherman’s pants.
You know what the words “visa run” entail and how painful one can be.
You consider a dorm with “only” 8 beds a luxury.
You get disappointed when you enter a new country and don’t get a stamp.
You repeatedly swear “this is your last time flying Ryanair” until the show up as the cheapest flight on your next search result.
You swear you’ll never take an overnight bus again and do it anyways.
As you get older, you swear you give up dorms and then book one for tomorrow night. It’s so cheap!
No matter where you are in the world, you know it’s exactly where you’re supposed to be.
How to Travel the World on $50 a Day
My New York Times best-selling paperback guide to world travel will teach you how to master the art of travel so that you’ll get off the beaten path, save money, and have a deeper travel experience. It’s your A to Z planning guide that the BBC called the “bible for budget travelers.”
Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner. It’s my favorite search engine because it searches websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is being left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- SafetyWing (best for everyone)
- Insure My Trip (for those 70 and over)
- Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)
Want to travel for free?
Travel credit cards allow you to earn points that can be redeemed for free flights and accommodation. They are what keep me traveling so much for so little. Check out my guide to picking the right card and my current favorites to get started and see the latest best deals.
Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.