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What Instagram won’t tell you about backpacking

The harsh truth about backpacking. Here are 10 honest & funny truths about backpacking from a travel couple who have explore 47 countries together!

If you’re an Instagram junkie like myself I’m sure you’re following a travel influencer or 10. Their photos are unbelievable right? So depressingly perfect that you start to think about how inadequate your own life is! But, the problem with Instagram is that most of the photos on there are filtered or photo-shopped to infinity. It’s not a real representation of what backpacking really entails.

So today, I’m here to give you the very honest truth about backpacking. Even though, visiting 47 countries with my husband is the greatest thing I’ve accomplished to date, it was also the hardest thing we’ve ever done. So here’s 10 honest truths about backpacking, you will probably encounter them all on your own travels so be warned!

The harsh truth about backpacking. Here are 10 honest & funny truths about backpacking from a travel couple who have explore 47 countries together!

1. You will have at least one bus journey from hell

If you’re travelling on a budget you will inevitably have to get local buses to get you from one town to the next. Depending on where you are, these local or ‘chicken buses’ as they are also called, can be anything from air-conditioned luxury like we had in Mexico to a Guatemalan pimp-my-ride-style school bus with blaring Latin music and live chickens squawking in bags at the back.

exterior of chicken bus guatemala
A local bus in Guatemala

2. You will always be tired

Like always tired. Travelling is like an attack on all of your senses. Every day you’re seeing new things, eating exotic foods, listening to new languages, smelling not-so-nice things (open sewers anyone?). It does get tiring believe me. But it’s okay, because you can sleep in the next day if you get too exhausted because you don’t have a job to get up for. It’s the best.

3. You won’t party as much as you think you will

Because you’re so tired from seeing new things but also because sitting on the beach watching the sunset with store-bought local beer is so much better. It is also a hell of a lot cheaper to buy beer at the store, so, if you’re on a budget you will find yourself less inclined to drop a load of cash at some tourist-filled night club.

sunset el salvador beach
Orange sunset on an El Salvador beach

4. You will learn to appreciate a hot (& strong) shower

Honestly, you will never enjoy a hot shower as much as you do when travelling.

5. You will contemplate blowing your daily budget for some air-con

Those who have backpacked before, will understand how much more expensive a room with some air-conditioning. And even though you will consider splurging on air-con on an almost daily basis, you will eventually decide against it. Instead, you will return to your hot room, have a cold shower and jump straight in bed. You will eventually get used to sleeping without air-con.

southern sri lanka beach
Exploring a beach in Southern Sri Lanka

6. You will meet people from all walks of life

Some will be really really cool, others will be some of the most annoying people you’ve ever met. But ultimately you will learn that the best people to hang with are the locals.

paint festival mexico
At Campeche Carnivale, Mexico

7. You will curse yourself for packing so many bloody clothes 

Because now your backpack weighs about the same as you and is starting to literally weigh-you-down. But alas, five minutes later you’ll be complaining that you’ve nothing to wear.

8. You will get sick of eating out for every single meal, every single day

This is probably the most surprising truth about backpacking. As crazy as it sounds but on your travels, you will be dying for a home-cooked meal. Hence, why a lot of travelers book an Airbnb when they get to a large city or town to have access to a kitchen and a laundry for a few days.

Having access to home comforts like an oven and TV tend to make you feel normal again.

Can I also add that if you’re travelling as a couple or as part of a group you will spend at least an hour of every day trying to decide where to eat.

dinner at meteora hotel greece
Stunning dinner at Meteora Hotel, Greece

9. Some days the weather will go against you

It is inevitable that weather will hinder your travel plans at least once on your backpacking journey. Whether it’s a cloudy day preventing your plans to sunbathe at the beach. Or a serious storm causing road closures, preventing you from getting to your next destination temporarily.

snorkelling tour nha trang vietnam
Snorkelling in Nha Trang, Vietnam

10. You will become an expert at embracing change

Every single truth about backpacking I’ve mentioned above is a teeny-tiny inconvenience when you think of how lucky you are to be exploring our beautiful world. Most people don’t have the same opportunities as you do. You will never be as young and as fearless as you are now. This world is big and scary, sure, but, it’s also incredibly beautiful and begging to be explored.

Please – if you have even the tiniest desire to travel don’t suppress it, embrace it, not everyone has the same wonder for the world as you. Travelling is awesome, I promise once you start you will never want to stop!

boat tour corfu greece
On a boat in Corfu, Greece

Tell me – what did you think about our 10 truths about backpacking. Is there anything else you would add to the list?

Read more: how to save for a vacation on a tight budget

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The harsh truth about backpacking. Here are 10 honest & funny truths about backpacking from a travel couple who have explore 47 countries together!

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