I am a girl from Australia, currently living in London. I have travelled fairly extensively, but have never been backpacking before. The countdown is on until my first backpacking trip (exactly 3 weeks), when I will be travelling around South America with two of my friends from Australia. Originally, I was excited by the prospect… The unknown; the spontaneity. Just me and my backpack and my two friends, and a massive continent to explore.
Step One was getting all of my vaccinations. I probably should have done this step previously when travelling around South East Asia. But I hadn’t and I did some research and found that you probably need a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate when coming in and out of some of the South American countries. So off I went to the travel clinic. I got ahold of my vaccination record, and apparently I hadn’t been immunised for Hep A (it’s not routine in Australia!?). Great. I had been galavanting around the world exposing myself to Hep A (which is passed on through food and drink). The nurse also recommended I get a Hep B booster, as well as the Yellow Fever shot AND take some tablets for Typhoid. After some traumatic jabs in the arm (the Hep B shot definitely hurt the most…. the Yellow Fever was a walk in the park), I was feeling like I was truly ready to go and face whatever is waiting for me in the unknown.
Learn Spanish. This can’t be too hard, right? Hablar Espanol es no muy dificil? So that’s probably wrong. Alright maybe this is a bit more difficult than I anticipated. I’ve learnt the basics, my pronunciation is probably horrible… I’ll probably pick it up when I get there….. Right?
If I’m going to be backpacking, I guess I need a backpack! Being the Clueless Backpacker that I am, I have no idea about backpacks. They all look the same – ridiculously large ugly sacks which sit on the back of granola eating people who look as though they not only haven’t showered, but have also been rolling around in the mud. For this step, I enlisted the help of my friend Josh, who is not only coming on this backpacking trip around South America – he’s done it before. Two separate year long trips around the world, staying in hostels, with only a backpack.
He gave me some valuable advice: to get a backpack which opens suitcase style as opposed to a top loader. Therefore I could avoid having to unpack everything to reach stuff at the bottom of my pack. Great! After some back and forth freak outs and an online shopping hunt I eventually settled on a bag and ordered it. All I had to do was sit back and wait for it to arrive.
After a short wait of 3 days, my bag arrived promptly this morning. It was wrapped in a big cardboard box. I ripped open the duct tape to reveal my bag. I got it in black and grey. Yes it’s still ugly, but it’s not entirely unfortunate. I didn’t even know where to start unzipping all of the zips. There are so many straps and it’s all very confusing. Eventually I found the right zip to the main compartment…. I opened it to reveal—- an extremely small space. Ummm… Was this some kind of a joke?
I called my housemate in immediately to help. “Jason??” I yelled. “What?” He yelled back from the kitchen. I brought the backpack into the kitchen where he was cooking. “Is this some kind of mistake? This backpack doesn’t seem to have a lot of room in it.”
“That’s what you get for going backpacking.”
I proceeded to have a mini-freakout. My toiletries and makeup is going to take up half the bag!! Do you know how many pairs of underwear that I have!? Jason pointed out to me that I only need to bring two pairs of underwear and I can wash them on alternate days. But that’s not how I roll! I have different underwear that I wear during the day and night…. I don’t wanna be doing washing everyday! Laundry is my most hated task of all!
How am I supposed to be fashionable with these limitations of the amount of stuff I can bring!?
The arrival of this backpack has created a load of worries in my mind. Maybe I’m just not cut out to be a backpacker. I was excited to go exploring and travelling, but the mere arrival of a bag has made me realise – I am nothing more than a Clueless Backpacker.
This is my story.