Backpacking's not always fun
People view backpacking in a number of ways. For some it's glamorous, others could care less and not a few consider backpackers the scum of the earth.
For many, the traveling has great moments. You visit places that most only dream about. There are sights that take your breath away, they are so beautiful. Along the way you meet people and have a good time. But, it's not always like that.
You are going to be robbed
Whether it's a travel agency, airline or outright thief, somewhere along the line stuff or money goes. I've had pickpockets hit me for a couple of hundred dollars, an official Spanish airline guy at Barajas Airport (who became very embarrassed when I said, "Someone's got a new Mercedes in his garage hasn't he....", as he scammed me for 30% on top of the ticket price - on the take I guess) and food stolen in a hostel. Some have their wallets, gear and or backpacks taken. Others get beaten up or worse.
Then there's the times you'll get sick or injured
If it's not a disease, it'll be the water. Dysentery is the most common, bad water. Then there's: Malaria, Yellow Fever, Dengue Fever, food poisoning, tetanus, typhoid, cholera and just about anything else you can think of - especially if you are in the middle of disaster zone like a flood, earthquake or fire (wars and revolutions don't help either - there are the bullets and bombs on top of everything else). Not to mention tripping over invisible cracks in the pavements.
Everybody's got lost at least once
Those free tourist maps are not known for their accuracy. In the UK (for instance), even the official ones are way out of date. You end up wandering around for hours (or days) not knowing exactly where you are and people are beginning to take strange looks at you. Your insecurities will surface during those times and you get frustrated, angry, a bit scared and just want out.
Then Mother Nature decides to have at you
She does wonders and horrors. How many times has the sky turned dark with thunder and lightening all over the place, I've lost track. You're enjoying the sun on the beach and all of a sudden the water line retreats, 200 feet instead of 20 - Tsunami on way - Run! The ground begins to shake, buildings fall down, the earth splits. That fantastic snow cover begins to move, downwards, towards you. That crack in the ground 50 yards away, turns out to be a Black Mamba. The list goes on and on.
Transport is always easy - NOT
We've all had them. Overnight stays in a bus station, canceled flights and places where nothing runs on time. It always seems to happen at night, just as everything else closes down and there you are stuck in some nasty terminal with all the weird night life.
Or, you arrive at one station, have to cross the city to another for your next train - and you only have 55 minutes! You know what I mean.
Hard ass customs officials
Here you have to be very humble and smile a lot or they'll give you a whole new definition of the meaning of hell on earth. Who don't (or won't) speak your language and you haven't the remotest idea what they're babbling on about.
Could be anything, you never know until it hits. Fortunately these are out of the norm and in most cases your trip is fine, but not always.
If we cross paths somewhere, chances are you'll see me wearing this. It was given me by a guy who'd been beaten and robbed. I was able to help him.
There's an old rule, give and it'll be given back to you. So if you run across a backpacker who's had a rough time, don't feel sorry for them, comfort and encourage them so they don't go home in despair.
Nov 15, 2014