An Unconventional Perspective on Backpacking
Why you should go for it
Surely not everyone is meant to or even has the desire to travel like a backpacker. There are those who seek the comforts of home even when traveling abroad. Then, there is the backpacker; the somewhat undefinable person, who seeks the difficult and thrives in the challenges of the road. Some say “backpacking is nice for young people or students even, but not for families or people like me.” Perhaps in their minds, this is true, but I can say from first hand experience that I do not think it is so. In this post, I want to attempt to explain why I believe that others may have more to benefit from backpacking than they realize.
As I have explicitly stated in my thoughts found throughout this website, I believe that traveling, specifically the backpacker-style, is one of the most authentic ways to travel the world. I believe this because the experience is about as local as you can get. It gives an individual opportunities to learn other’s ways and cultures, and it exposes them to new languages, standards of living and practices that simply cannot be experienced from within a hotel room or through a TV screen. It may seem that these experiences are good for a person to have, but that they do not readily translate into a career or into an individual’s future. I beg to differ.
First, backpackers are not likely to be career travelers. Ideally, these people will spend some time on the road, but most will move on to other opportunities and pursuits in life. They will become businessmen and women, doctors, lawyers, diplomats, shop keepers, drivers, Indian chiefs, and sandwich makers. Regardless of which path they choose to pursue, they will inevitably become standing members of society. Hopefully, productive ones.
When they do become productive members of society, they will likely lead a life based off of the experiences that they have had. A well-traveled business man or entrepreneur has the advantage of being able to analyze business ventures and other new opportunities through many perspectives. Furthermore, a doctor who spent time abroad can develop social skills for working with a variety of patients. Even diplomats could stand to gain a better grasp on global politics by experiencing them firsthand and traveling.
Therefore, I propose that traveling, particularly backpacking, offers societal benefits well beyond the scope of any classroom. These benefits, whether direct or indirect, can positively affect the society around us.
The second reason, is that even people who do not like traveling can benefit from a trip abroad. More specifically, as challenges and obstacles arise abroad people are able to formulate new skill sets, which can readily transfer into the professional field. Furthermore, the experience that a person has abroad can give them an opportunity to develop areas that they may be lacking in. For example, a person can work on problem solving as they seek to remedy a missed connection. This would require a person to be both structured and logical as they seek to fix the situation. Traveling abroad also teaches people to see things through other people’s eyes. As a professional, this may help you to deal with varying personality types as you work through a board meeting. Other skills that you can acquire abroad range from adaptability, negotiations, multi-tasking, and even more tangible skills like language proficiency.
Thus, travelers and non-travelers can actually use travel experiences to benefit and hone their job skills. Especially, if you are willing to test yourself.
The third reason, is probably unexpected but it can be true in many situations. Backpacking makes people realize what they love about home. Traveling makes people realize and comprehend the situation that they have at home, and it helps them to truly appreciate what they have. I have heard it said many times that people miss things about home. It does not matter whether it is family, stability, ease of life, or maybe even opportunity. People have a tendency to appreciate what they have more once they have been away. Sometimes we have to go great distances to see what is right in front of us. On the contrary, sometimes we go great distances to see what we truly enjoy.
People who travel get the opportunity to see what they really enjoy and do not enjoy. Moreover, people get the opportunity to think about life, and their role in it. Someone in question over a specific career path or life choice can benefit from an outsider perspective.
Lastly, the fourth and final point that I am going to make in this post is relevant to the third reason. People generally have a better idea of what they are looking for after they have experienced new things. This is why many cultures support and embrace the gap year. A gap year is an opportunity for someone to go on the ultimate adventure for an extended period of time. Although it is not necessarily a year, the point is that people are trying out new things. This gives people a chance to see what things they like, and those that they do not. In the end, people can develop a more refined sense of direction.
As a closure, people who travel can become more directive in their career paths and life choices. Some may shoot for the professional career whereas others look forward to the simple things in life. Ultimately, it does not matter. What matters is that the person did something amazing and different.
At the end of the day, people will usually find their niche in life. I realize that not everyone will be able to travel, and even more of the people who have the opportunity won’t seize it. My only hope is that those who are on the fence about making the decision to do so, think about it in a new light.
Tell me what you think!
What do you think about backpacking? Have you backpacked or do you plan to in the future?