Three Months and 37 Countries

While I haven’t been as active with blogging as I would like, (it’s hard to keep up with when you are moving this quickly), one thing that I think I will put an effort into keeping up is my monthly reflection posts. It’s an opportunity to look back at where I’ve gone, what I’ve learned, done, seen, and experienced. Yesterday - as I entered my 37th country since my departure - marked three full months of being on the move across Europe so it’s time to do just that. So for this reflection post, I thought I would compile a list of 37 things that happen when you backpack long term -  and at a very fast pace. Or at least 37 things that have happened to me.

1.     You become an unusually good at sleeping in any position, anywhere

2.     But only thanks to the most important item in your bag (after your passport): ear plugs

3.     You gain an international friend group

4.     Ultimately making you think in multiple time zones

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5.    Having a room to yourself becomes a luxury equivalent to a 5-star hotel

6.    Free laundry makes you believe in God

7.    Your level of fucks given decreases exponentially

8.    While your level of exhaustion increases exponentially

9.    Time is measured in countries, not days or weeks (for example, “Thanksgiving is in five countries!”)

10.  There’s that one food staple you always have on you

11.  Your maps app is your most used app

12.  Bathrooms remain your enemy

13.  Overnight buses are both a blessing and a curse for saving you money on lodging but giving you a shitty night’s sleep

14.  You become an expert at finding outlets…

15.  And at understanding bus/train timetables even without an English translation…

16.  And at finding the non-touristy spots for good, authentic local cuisine…

17.  And at navigating new cities with nothing more than a compass and a paper map

18.  Train and bus stations might as well be your second home

19.  But your actual home is a backpack and an ever changing hostel bed

20.  And when people ask you where you’re from, you aren’t completely sure how to respond since home is such an elusive term

21.  You’ve established your favourite seat on buses and get irrationally angry when you can’t get that seat

22.  Aside from clean underwear, smart wool socks become your most important clothing item

23.  You go out of your way to not look like a stereotypical obnoxious American tourist

24.  Haircuts go to the wayside, so you might start rocking a mullet 

25.  You perfect the art of handling creepy and inappropriate men, regardless of language barriers

26.  Cities and countries start to blend together, sometimes making you slightly confused as to where you are

27.  But the moments of sheer beauty and joy standout


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28. You’ll go out of your way to change your itinerary upon seeing a picture from another backpacker and thinking “I have to go there”

29. The people you meet become as important as the places you go

30. The digital world becomes simultaneously more and less important as you try to stay connected to your community around the world and disconnect to focus on the here and now

31. Travel rewards credit cards are a top priority

32. You begin to understand on a deeper level how privileged you are

33. While also having the chance to see how much better things can be (in other words, America is terrible and seriously falling behind the rest of the world)

34. You overcome your fears

35. And gain new ones

36. You forget about the stigma of going out to a restaurant alone, and learn to enjoy how marvellous the experience can be

37. You realise that you never want to stop learning about the world around you