While many of us wonder at the idea of backpacking to travel and relax our body and mind for a few days, the bitter truth is travel is exhausting. If anything, more exhausting than going to the office on a 9 to 5 shift every day.
Let’s begin with the packing. You can’t afford to have luxury trolley bags with you. You need to stuff everything you’ve to carry, in a single bag that you can carry everywhere. You’ve to wear the same clothes for days without any shower. Few days you might have to spend without brushing. Your hygiene goes for a toss. That calls for minimalism.
You can’t skip breakfast since you’re gonna walk more than 10km every day. You eat everything you can find. You’re prepared for all kinds of weather, be it rain, hail storm, snowstorm, cold or hot. Also, as you’re carrying a lightweight pack, you’ve a max of 2-litre water at any point of time. You eat local food, it doesn’t matter if it’s as per your taste buds.
You can’t afford to miss sunrise, sunset, night sky. You hardly sleep despite so much of body pressure and carrying a 6-7kg backpack all the while. You’re auto-adjusted to changes in the itinerary. Every penny you spend, you mentally calculate how much budget you’ve left for the trip. You sleep in cheaper places, sometimes for free...Sometimes in a tent, sometimes at a local stranger’s home whom you’ve met only a few hours ago. Talking of safety, eh?
You don’t go prepared for all what if conditions and when those rare conditions occur, you subject yourself to unknown situations and solve them immediately.
While you take your precautions, nothing prepares you for the problem in front of you. And the dynamics of the problem are often unknown. It’s raining heavily, and you’ve no idea when it’s gonna stop. The avalanche coming over to you, you’ve no freaking idea where it’s gonna stop or even how to save yourself. The strange sounds you hear, you’ve hardly few minutes to identify what’re they and if they’re a danger to you.
You’re not trained for any of this, but the fear of death will offer you the best solution you can manage, and you implement it without second thoughts.
Time runs 10 times faster than you. Hitchhiking, backpacking, asking locals for routes and the best food at a low price, figuring out where you’re gonna sleep tonight, etc. happen in minutes. Sometimes you’re stranded in a place where you don’t see a single human around. All the preplanned calendar itineraries, map drawings you’ve made, they all go to trash when you face reality.
But why do you do this?
Because this is simply the most rewarding decision of life. While you regret every step you take, every stop you make to take a deep breath offers an unparalleled view.
A wholesome of life stories walking around you, with each person being of several perspectives. You’re no longer the same person when you return. You appreciate every small thing you’ve in your life, including regular drinking water.
The sense of achievement when you feel you’re growing and not just getting older every day is the greatest of all.