6 Life Lessons I Learned from Backpackers - Breathe Travel

Backpackers are a unique type of people. They find joy in constantly lugging their few possessions from place to place. They seek friendships they know will last for only a short period of time. They define home as the place they are sleeping on any given night. They are excited by being tied to nothing and having the opportunity to go anywhere at anytime.

I have met many backpackers and may even be seen as one myself. Conversations with these dynamic individuals have been enriching moments. While I talked to some for three minutes and some for weeks, I have learned a lot from the people I have met.

These are six life lessons I have learned from backpackers during by travels which I feel we need to keep reminding ourselves in day to day life:

1. Be brave to make big life changes

A boisterous, strong willed Canadian couple explained to me “We only got one week of vacation time from work and we tried to figure out where could we go in only one week. The answer: nowhere. So we quit our jobs and moved.”

It can be incredibly hard to make such huge life decisions. Choosing the unknown is scary and unpredictable. However, being brave and not settling with what’s comfortable can lead to amazing personal discoveries.

2. Be trusting

An 18-year-old Canadian solo-backpacker welcomed us to the dorm and simply said “I won’t steal your stuff if you don’t steal mine.” It’s natural to hesitate to trust another at the first meeting. However, when you’re living in a dorm, you don’t really have that option. You’re sleeping only a few feet from each other and share all facilities. But everyone is in the same situation. Everyone is traveling and broke and seeking companionship.

By taking the time to get to know and trust one another, I have felt safe and comfortable in hostels around the world. That being said, be smart and safe with your valuables, but seek comfort in the fact that more often than not fellow travellers can and want to be trustworthy.

3. Enjoy other’s company while you can

A Kiwi in her 80s described how her friend just lost her husband and said, “That’s life though and all we can do is enjoy people while we have them.” Even though backpackers know each other for only a few hours, days, or weeks, they still enjoy each other’s company while they can.

As cliche as it sounds, traveling teaches you to live in the moment. The people you meet and experiences you have can be short, but are meaningful and memorable in the long run.

4. Stop worrying, it’ll all work out

Many people assured me this but it first came from Amelia in Fiji. I was stressing out just listening to her talk about all the hard work she was putting in for jobs and visas. She was calm though and knew that one way or another it would work out and she’d be okay.

I am a planner so worry about travel logistics constantly. Where will we sleep? What will we eat? Will we find work? Will we make friends? Is it safe? It’s important to take a deep breath and accept things as they come. More often than not, the stress is unnecessary and just exhausting. Because after all, it’ll all work out.

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5. Be comfortable simply existing

One of my dorm roommates explained her past weeks of travels as just existing. She didn’t have work or plans but just existed. She wandered and watched and enjoyed. So many times we desire a plan and structure. Rarely have I simply existed so I found this idea fascinating. It isn’t often we reward ourselves with time to relax and rejuvenate.

The life of a backpacker can be restless but by taking the time to exist in that time and place, you allow yourself peace of mind in all the flurry of travel.

6. Everyone has a story worth listening to

Everyone you meet has been somewhere you haven’t, done something you haven’t, and knows something you don’t. There have been times when I really enjoy getting to know someone I initially don’t think I’ll have much in common with.

Take the time to talk to fellow travellers and hear what they have to say. You might get ideas on a local activity to do the next day or a new place to travel in the future. You might meet a lifelong friend or say goodbye the next day. You might learn about something you’ve never heard of or get a new perspective.

My biggest piece of advice: keep your ears wide open. You never know what lessons you’ll learn from backpackers.

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Have you learned any life lessons from traveling which stay with you even when you return home?
Do share them below!​