These people have ascribed to a different way of life, much like us only intent in squeezing the tropical fruit juice of life and trekking the calories out of it, as someone who admires them and as a neophyte backpacker myself i will share the much secretive Backpacker’s Law 101.
The Backpacker knows as a Cardinal rule #1: Less is More
What defines you? Is it your 80 inch 3D TV? Or your Wii? How about the countless computer games in your arsenal? My personal source of pride and joy comes with my collection of heeled shoes that never seemed to last but they are pretty to look at, no matter how uncomfortable. But the thing i noticed is how i just kept on using a couple of booties and my black wedges in favour of my more fashion forward pairs, because dammit they hurt to walk in.
My lesson is dear reader. Backpackers can’t lug around every little possession they own, that Keith Richard’s deluxe CD collection they have so much pride on wouldn’t fit in their carry-on backpack. So don’t let your material things define you. Don’t be someone who brags about the Macbook they semi-own (until their lay-away is complete) but has never even experienced climbing a mountain, barefoot: optional. The wise backpacker knows that the strangers you befriend, the steps you took to reach your personal nirvana and the countless memory cards you’ve corrupted because of your many, many pictures are your real treasures
Remember: Less is More, but only on your material possessions. Intangible wealth cannot be measured.
Backpacker’s Cardinal Rule #2: Commute to Save the World
A normal migration pattern will usually utilize the mobility function that nature designed which is our feet. But as the Pangaea shifted away to become different continents it made much sense to develop other modes of transportation, some are more stylish while others just get you from point A to B without severing a limb.
But as the Backpacker Marky Ramone who has a zealous trait of being both a cheapskate and an environmental activist will tell you, Commute, you must. by doing so you are helping the economy. You are saving petrol. You are saving money.
Money that could go to other more important things like your super sized lunch (you’ll be burning it off when you walk to the train station) the Backpacker knows how to enjoy the journey because everyday he knows that the universe will bring him something new and that is a mindset that everyone should maintain. You don’t have to be in a strange unfamiliar country to know that today is a gift, remember that when that asshole shoves you to get in that sardine packed MRT. But know that by commuting you are helping make the world a better place, and helping yourself save up for the time when it’s your chance to go to a strange new and exciting place as well.
Backpacker’s Cardinal Rule #3: There’s not a Stranger too Strange
The time is 7:54am, jet lagged and tired from your border crossing, in a strange place you can barely pronounce. You would do well to keep Dong Ho’s mindset: Getting lost is fun and you need to admit that after walking aimlessly using that shitty free map you stole at the airport, you could use some help right now.
Best way to do that? Ask a local! They know their home better than any Lonely Planet guide book or website. Go and don’t hesitate to ask someone now! Are you too scared to befriend that weird guy with a mustache? Don’t be! You might not be able to tell from his thrifted Alpaca sweater but he once swam the trans-Atlantic ocean wearing nothing but a Speedo! Or that woman in red directly in front of you at Starbucks, she could be your new boss at this Job you don’t have yet. The point is Backpackers know that we live in a small world thus there’s no room for strangers only potential friends/ lunch buddies/ Couchsurfing hosts.
Who knows the most interesting person you ever could meet is that guy beside you on the train. So what’s stopping you from saying hi? The dude’s murderous stare? Yeah, this is one tip that you should use your gut-feel on. Remember to be careful.
Backpacker’s Cardinal Rule #4: Money Matters so Stretch it Wisely.
Juanderful Pinoy, a Backpacker said it in 5 words. “I learned to value money”. Being a backpacker means you are constantly being limited by your budget so you can’t splurge on everything because then you’ll be called a flashpacker and we like to make fun of flashpackers. Just remember a Peso that you didn’t spend needlessly is a Peso/Dong/Baht/Dollar you can spend somewhere else.
Little tips like bringing trail food or packed lunch/ snacks for school or work and refilling your bottles of water for free at canteens thus saving the environment from too much PET bottles as well is going to make a huge difference over time…
Do you really need me to convince you to do this?
Backpacker’s Cardinal Rule #5: A Good Backpacker has Skills, and Sells It
Take it from a really good friend of mine. Do something good, keep doing it and eventually the universe will find a way to give you a paycheck for it. But do it in an awesome way like the Possibly Pinay who can seamlessly mix travel and work at the same time. Well, for starters she’s already got a great gig as a magazine editor and expands on it with branding her own website in exchange for Google Ads juice and reviews. What does she get for it? Funds to fuel her many, many travels and that bad-ass street cred as a Digital Nomad.
In real life this translates to one word: Sidelines! Make sure that you’re getting revenue not just with one steady stream but with other tinier droplets at the same time. Backpackers use this to their advantage and develop trade skills such as writing, photography, web designing and more because aside from the fact that they’ve got one heck of an expensive hobby but it also beefs up their resume. So think travelers waste their time going around the world? Better think again before you lose that corporate job to a sunburnt Hippie hobo.
Backpacker’s Cardinal Rule #6: Your Friends are there to Help You
Whoever said that Backpackers are loners is seriously misguided. That cannot be farther away from the truth and i can concur that Backpackers are the best drinking buddies ever. And they tend to congregate in the same circles. Lets admit it, it’s not easy going around the world and you’re going to need some sort of support system to keep you in check. So your friends turn into a GPS (when you’re lost) an Emergency Broadcast System (should something happen) to being your very own chat support when getting homesick.
Of course a downside to this is you’ll have to buy them awesome souvenirs. And make sure to return the favor when it’s their turn on the road. It’s huge, dusty and at times scary, everyone could use a friend when walking around the world.
Backpacker’s Cardinal Rule #7: The Earth is Round and Maps are Flat
We all grew up wanting to do something grand, and as we grow up our dreams slowly become less colorful and more attuned to what is near and somewhat achievable in one lifetime. We realize that we don’t exist to move mountains but to erode it, slowly… one rock at a time. Backpackers–Travelers realize this. Being constantly a stranger from the outside looking in we somehow feel helpless even if there is much to do. Like, can an organization make Africa into the next USA in 2 years? Fat chance in hell but we can help make it better. Real and permanent change can only happen over time with collective help, it’s called Globalization and you’ve probably heard it in your High School Economics but try to think using a bigger picture, being a citizen of the world and conscious that what you do does affect other people in bigger ways than imagined.
Does this mean you can do what you want without repercussions because what you do won’t matter in the long run? No, didn’t you read? You need to do things that will make the Earth a better place and make you happy at the same time. Because your life does change this world a little bit but not enough to really make a dent on the Universe so if you did make a difference might as well be happy doing it cause you’ll really only have that one shot. Unless you are a Buddhist then maybe you’ll be reincarnated as a Hummingbird or North Korea’s next dictator…
Did any of these make sense? If not, then maybe you need to get a Backpack and see the world in crystal clarity. :)