It’s Not All Sunsets and Waterfalls: Behind the Scenes of Backpacking

“I wish I could go on a six month vacation” – a thought that has undoubtedly passed through many of our readers’ minds. With a slew of beautiful photos and exciting blog posts flooding your Instagrams and Facebooks, I’m sure it’s easy to be envious of our travels.

Well, after officially being on the road for a little over six months now, I can assure you that this trip has been far from what we would call a vacation. Behind the breathtaking photos and inspiring stories, there are challenges that most travellers fail to share.

Here are some of the difficulties that come with backpacking around the world that Buzzfeed, Yahoo Travel, us or whoever else you hear about quitting their jobs and living the ‘perfect’ life as a nomad fail to share.

 

It’s Exhausting:

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Josh is really ‘tired’…

This feeling comes and goes, but one of the first things that really hit us when we began travelling, was how tiring it is to be in a different location every 3-7 days. Think about going on a short business trip, or a very long car ride or even just a short plane ride half way across The States. Usually when you arrive at your destination, you’re pretty tired. Now imagine doing that every couple days and then packing in everything that a city has to offer in that short span of time. That’s what it was like traveling through all of Europe in only 90 days and although we have slowed it down a bit in South East Asia, the travel time between destinations is longer and even more exhausting.

On top of a ton of travel, we try to save money by walking everywhere. This has been excellent for burning off all the food we shovel in our mouths on a daily basis, but our average daily walking mileage is about 4 miles and on a sightseeing day, we can walk upwards of 13 miles in a day. Exhausting.

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This damn bag is bigger than I am.

It Gets Lonely:

I’ve always been somewhat of a homebody. I enjoy having a place to call home and out here I even find myself getting attached to cities and places that we stay; however, just as we start getting comfortable, it’s time to go again. Most of the time, we move so quickly between cities that it’s difficult to build lasting friendships and even if we do find a group of people we enjoy hanging out with, we part ways soon after meeting. Each time we move to a new city, we are suddenly back in a state where nothing is familiar and while it’s always exciting, it can be overwhelming.

Former comforts are gone

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Miss you guys 🙁

It’s amazing to see so many places and experience so many different cultures. At the same time, anything we once went to for comfort other than each other is gone. The security of coming home each day from our stable jobs to our cozy apartment, the ability to eat at our favorite restaurant…or a box of Kraft mac and cheese, seeing a familiar friend or family member are gone. Sometimes we are excited just to see a McDonalds sign or a real shopping mall – how sad is that?!

 

We Miss Home…A Lot

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We miss our families, our friends, our dog and Boston. The holidays were particularly challenging for us while we knew that our families and friends were gathered together with their loved ones to celebrate and although we had each other, we were thousands of miles away from everyone else. On the road, there are tough days and sometimes we would do anything for a chance to be with a close friend or family member.

We’re Constantly Planning

If there’s one thing that we do consistently on this trip, it’s plan. Where will we go next? How will we get there? Where will we stay? Does it fit into our budget? How do we get to the next destination from this one and is that even possible without spending a fortune? There are so many factors that go into deciding where to go and sometimes it’s challenging to make it all work out smoothly. Trust me, we’ve made our fair share of mistakes that have cost us time and money, but I guess one of the benefits is that we have all the time in the world.

It’s Far From Glamorous

Freezing to death on the showboat to Laos. Being buried helped though...

Freezing to death on the showboat to Laos. Being buried helped though…

Instagram makes the life of a backpacker look luxurious. I assure you, it is not. I’ve been wearing the same damn clothes for six months now. The days of doing my hair and wearing makeup are over, although I can’t say the same for Josh; He still spends hours perfecting his luscious locks each day. Just kidding 😉 Now that we’re in South East Asia, it’s blazing hot and the second we step outside we are sweating buckets…super attractive. Easy to say we are not always the most attractive looking human beings and we’re probably not the cleanest either. Gross, I know, but true.

Budget Travel Means Sacrificing Comfort

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Another day another train, bus or plane ride.

In order to prolong our adventure, it’s necessary to budget and by budget, we mean spending the absolute minimum amount of money as possible. We’re currently on a budget of $50 a day for two people while in Asia and we were spending about $150 a day in Europe’s most expensive cities.

A bare bones budget like this consists of eating cheap meals, taking the cheapest travel option and finding inexpensive places to stay. Eating on a budget around here means passing by those enticing trendy restaurants and eating street food, which can be either amazing or extremely frightening. Cheap accommodation is easy to find in most places, but it comes with the sacrifice of comfort and usually cleanliness. Beds in most of these places are box springs and very frequently, we stay in hostels where we suddenly have 6-14 roommates who could care less if we’re sleeping at 4 o’clock in the morning when they decide it’s time to drunkenly stumble into the room and flip the lights on. Needless to say, a good night’s sleep is hard to come by.

 

And now I’m sure some of you are saying “boo-fuckity-hoo that sounds soooo difficult,” but hey, it’s not always glitz and glamour out here so, we thought we’d let you into the world of traveling behind our Instagram account. Although we frequently run into these challenges, the amazing memories, moments, cultures and places we are experiencing together make every second, whether good or bad, worth it.

 

Thanks for reading,

 

MM

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