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So far on my ten week adventure through South-East Asia, I have been on two backpacking trips, and plan to go on one more before catching a flight back to Canada. Now, don't get me wrong, I adore backpacking. I think that it is an amazing journey through self reflection in the sense of becoming more at peace with your thoughts, desires, and whether you really need all of the junk that you left at home. Backpacking is a way to minimize items that you travel with and discover what you really see as valuable and useful in your life. That being said, I still stand by my title. The idea of backpacking I love—the people who participate in it, I'm not the biggest fan of. Of course, I have met backpackers that I love and call my friends now, but I've also met some that I feel uncomfortable around and actually have completely ended a conversation on a few just out of pure frustration and despise.
I find that there are only two types of backpackers (that I've met so far): the organized, supportive backpacker, and the disorganized, judgemental backpacker.
The organized and supportive backpacker may not have their entire trip planned out, but has at least their flights booked and has a good understanding of where they want to visit. This backpacker also is willing to listen to your plans and ideas, willing to put in their respectful and knowledgeable input, as well as understand your situation and give input without judgement. This backpacker is the one the one that I latch onto. As soon as I start talking to a fellow backpacker, obviously the conversation starter revolves around each other's travel plans. My travel itinerary is unlike any other backpacker that I've met, and it is quite confusing, but this backpacker is willing to listen and sympathize with me, and they understand that all backpacker's itineraries are different.
Meanwhile, the disorganized, judgemental backpacker does not have any of their trips organized. They book their flights the night before, they walk into hostels in places they've never heard of/researched, and they have no idea where they want to go/what they're doing. Although I seem to take a disliking to this backpacker, I also admire their willingness to take on the world completely and utterly disorganized and I think it takes real guts to do so. But, although they have no idea what they are doing, they feel the need to tell you exactly what you should and shouldn't do during your trip. These backpackers do not sympathize with my crazy itinerary. They actually usually make me feel bad for how "little" time I'm spending here in Asia (even though I seem to think it's a good amount of time!), and they usually try to convince me to completely change my itinerary! I am someone that cannot live my life without organization. I cannot get out of bed in the morning if I do not have at least a somewhat structured plan of what I am to do that day. Although this anxiety has followed me on my trip, I have been able to conquer great feats (in my opinion) such as changing my itinerary last minute, and walking into a hostel that I had actually not booked almost a month in advance! And although I have a calendar for my entire trip, as well as separate Excel spreadsheets for each backpacking trip, I still remain supportive and understanding of someone who decides to not plan at all. But that person usually likes to mock my spreadsheets and convince me that I am not living up to my full travel potential! The audacity that this backpacker has!
I am 100 percent being over-dramatic, judgemental, and hypocritical, but I'd say about 70 percent of the backpackers that I have met so far on my endeavours fit in some way into the disorganized and judgemental backpacker, and I felt as though I needed to share my frustration with the world! But all joking aside, I believe that all backpackers form a community, and we need to be supportive of one another, and even gain some inspiration through others itineraries (if they have any!) for our future travels. As you set off backpacking, really think about what you want to get out of your trip and how you feel comfortable travelling; be it having a million spreadsheets or booking your flight in the car to the airport, as long as you're comfortable and happy travelling your way, do it! Just remember that everyone is entitled to their own way of travelling, and that if it's not your way, that's totally fine! Oh, and a quick word of advice, spreadsheets really do help.