You Know You’re a Backpacker When…

Back in January, Brian and I were orienting ourselves to this new and foreign world of backpacking. Now that we have almost four months on our backpacking resume, we thought it was time to share a few things we’ve learned along the way. We had fun compiling this list (and I’m sure we’ll continue to add to it as we continue our travels) and we hope you find some amusement in it as well!

1. You know how to say “hello” and “thank you” in the local language for all the countries you’ve visited (but that’s about the extent of it).

2. You’ve been spotted wearing your big backpack on your back and a smaller day backpack on your chest – no load is too big or heavy for you to handle.

Not sure who this muscle man is but wanted to provide you with a visual.

Not sure who this muscle man is but wanted to provide you with a visual.

3. You own at least one pair of elephant pants (aka backpacker pants)

4. Booking bus tickets, train tickets, hostel rooms etc. more than a day in advance sounds outrageous.

5. You’ll give up your (future) first born child all in the name of good wifi.

6. Seeing wild animals roam around in the street, on the sidewalk, or along the beach like lost domestic animals doesn’t phase you in the least.

The beach is the stomping ground for the wild horses on Vieques Island

The beach is the stomping ground for the wild horses on Vieques Island

The cows control the sidewalks in Kathmandu, Nepal

The cows control the sidewalks in Kathmandu, Nepal

7. You have a coveted supply of Cipro for when those inopportune GI bugs find you.

8. You haven’t set foot in a gym in months. Mother Nature is your gym.

9. If it’s edible, you’ll eat it.

10. You have no idea what day of the week or month it is.

11. Tripadvisor is your most visited website.

12. You forgot seatbelts still exist.

13. Showering twice a week is totally acceptable, if not normal.

14. You never realized how much you like McDonalds until now.

15. You find yourself lost more often than not (and that’s okay).

16. Your parents know how to use Skype.

17. You’ve been treated like a local celebrity just because you look different.

These girls insisted we take a picture with them at Prambanan Temple in Central Java.

These girls insisted we take a picture with them at Prambanan Temple in Central Java.

18. You’ve personally adopted the metric system.

19. The idea of street food excites you rather than repulses you.

20. You’ve perfected the art of wear, rinse, wash and repeat. Contrary to popular belief, it’s okay to be caught wearing the same outfit hundreds of times.

21. You’ve developed an impressive ability to sleep on just about anything and just about anywhere.

Brian sleeping on a hard "couch" at 3 AM in Mumbai's airport during a layover.

Brian sleeping on a hard “couch” at 3 AM in Mumbai’s airport during a layover.

22. You rely heavily on the kindness of strangers and you have never been more thankful for them.

23. You have a renewed appreciation for hot showers, electricity, air conditioning, western toilets, and your dear family and friends who support you despite your crazy idea to quit your job and travel for a year.

If you are a backpacker or have experienced backpackers in their natural habitat, please feel free to share any other observations below.

5 thoughts on “You Know You’re a Backpacker When…

  1. I love this list and have experienced many of these on my own backpacking adventures. Can you guys please give some advice as to what went into getting started on a yearlong backpacking trip? How did you save for this trip? How do you afford to travel for an entire year? Any advice is welcome! I love your blog and your Instagram! Very inspiring!

    • Thanks Natalie! Our sole aim in this blog is to inspire other people to give long-term travel a go because it’s been such a rewarding experience for us. So we really appreciate your comment! We are frequently asked the types of questions you brought up and plan to address them in the near future in a more detailed fashion. In the meantime, here are some bullet points (feel free to email us at if you have more specific questions): we worked for 5-6 years before we left and managed to save some money to put toward this trip, although we didn’t really decide to “pull the trigger” until less than a year before we left. Budget travel is much more realistic than most people realize (we didn’t even know it was possible until doing some research). For example, you can travel in places like Southeast Asia and Central America for as little as $30/ day by staying in hostels, taking local transport, and eating local food. If you can save $4,000, you can buy a round trip flight to Asia ($1,000), insurance ($300), and travel around for 3 months (90 X $30 = $2,700 of on the ground costs). That’s certainly a lot of money but probably much less than most people would think for 3 months of travel. We tried to stick to those types of destinations where we knew the dollar would go further, which helped us travel for a longer period of time. More to come but reach out with any additional questions in the meantime…

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