Whether you have had enough of that 9-5pm office job and are bored out of your mind, just broken up with the love of your life and need some space or you are finally making your dream of traveling the globe come true, packing up ship and heading miles overseas away from the clutches of your last world can be a tough thing to do. Condensing your life into a backpack, saying goodbye to your family and friends and accepting the fact there will be no more of mums Sunday dinners for a while.
I first started working in hostels when I was 19. I had no idea what to expect... to be honest I didn't even know 'backpackers' existed. When I thought of going to another country I always imagined 5 star hotels and what I'd seen in movies. All of this changed when I started working at Nomads Fat Camel in Auckland. I saw the backpacking community as one big family... one big poor family but a family nevertheless. They cooked for each other, drank with each other and of course slept with each other.
With minimal funding they explored my beautiful country of New Zealand; climbing mountains and jumping out of planes! I worked the occasional night shift and they would come in after a night out and tell me of their adventures of the world, into the early hours of the morning... and that was when I realised I was bored! I was bored of my complacent life of sleeping, eating and working - work was the best part of my day, I was hooked on the backpacking scene! I wanted to have next to no money, do volunteer in exchange for accommodation or food, go to backpacker bars and enter all sorts of games that would probably humiliate me, but the possibility of winning prizes would compensate for that fact. So I packed up and left! I didn't go far, only across the ditch (Australia) and so far it has been the best decision of my life.
Drinking! It can be given, won, taken and spilt!
It can be intimidating trying to make new friends, especially if you are traveling alone. Backpackers love anything free, especially alcohol. So, go down to the local bottle-o and pick up a box of their finest 'Carbordeaux' also known as 'goon'. It's quite possibly the cheapest form of alcohol you will find in Australia (costing around $3- $4 a litre). It can be used as a great ice breaker as you talk about how foul it tastes and you wish you had some lemonade to mix, while laughing at how it 'may contain traces of fish eggs.' And you might even find the odd backpacker who actually enjoys the taste of goon! Mmm delicious!
Traveling doesn't have to be expensive.
Whether you are on a tight budget or have plenty of money to share, traveling doesn't have to be expensive. There are other ways of saving money on your trip that doesn't include living on instant noodles and depriving your needs of being a social butterfly. Go to backpacker bars! The drinks are cheap and the games are waiting to be won by you! Yes those games might involve playing sex positions, having a balloon tied to your ankle with people trying to pop it and the classic jelly wrestling. But the prizes generally make up for it. It be could anything from bar tabs to bungy jumps! Or... get yourself a job! Whether it's volunteering in hostels in exchange for a bed or getting a part time job, it will keep you busy and you will be saving more of that hard earned backpacker cash! Find out where the local markets are! You can get your weekly shop of meat and vege for about $25! Steak anyone? Here in Melbourne, the Queen Victoria markets are amazing for good food!
You don't need 5 suitcases and a handbag with a small dog in it.
Since coming away, I have found I could probably live without 80% of my belongings. I recently traveled throughout S.E Asia with 8kg of luggage and some carry on. I wore the same shirt 2 days in a row and lived in a bikini. There are many places that don't have elevators and if you don't have a strong man at your disposal... well good luck getting your stuff up 3 flights of stairs! You might be lucky enough to have both of the above, but if you aren't, trust me having as little to carry as possible is the best way.
Everyone at some point in their life should go traveling! You don't have to go forever, but experiencing different cultures, sights and what other countries have to offer I have no doubt you will be amazed at what you find!