NZ Adventure Chapter 9: The Worst Things About Backpacking
Remember how I was talking about weird transitional phases back in Chapter 6? Yeah, I’m experiencing another one of those and it’s fucking hard to write about. Really, I admire writers that can talk about the everyday like it’s a novelty. Maybe one day I’ll be good enough to write about standing in line and have it be funny and interesting (how does Bill Bryson do it??). But for now I’ll lean on honesty and hope that counts for something.
Since Fox Glacier I have jumped off a bridge, stared at Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown, and enjoyed the cooler weather in the South Island. Now I’m back in Auckland experiencing that ‘whiplashed-how-did-i-get-here’ feeling that I felt after leaving Karekare. I’ve taken a barista course, gotten a job cleaning the dance studio I’ve taken some classes at, found a place to live that’s not a hostel, and made some new friends. I’m now job hunting for a second job to cover my rent and figuring out how to settle into something somewhat normal.
But these three months have given me a lot to think about and while I’ve had some amazing experiences, I’ve also realized that there are some things about traveling that are just inherently shitty. So, without further ado, here are my least favorite things about traveling long term/backpacking:
1. Bathrooms and shower stalls with no counter space or hooks causing you to constantly balance all your stuff like a circus performer so you don’t drop anything on the inevitably gross floor.
2. Lack of Privacy
When you’re staying in a room with 6-18 other people your phone conversations are out there for everyone to hear and you get to enjoy looks of disapproval as you trim your toenails (Hey, you have to do it at some point. I’m not about to go three months without clipping my nails, sorry).
3. Staring at blank boxes that won’t load because good WiFi is hard to find…
4. Not having room for…anything really….in your bag.
5. Not having access to all your usual cooking stuff (like spices, milk, butter, olive oil, etc.)
I’d love to cook more than ramen and sandwiches but it’s hard when you’re working with whatever spices people have left behind at hostels. Also I’m not about to carry around a bottle of olive oil, which is usually my main cooking ingredient.
6. Never getting too comfortable
When you’re constantly traveling and living out of a bag, you have to have a mental inventory of where you’ve left everything so you don’t forget your stuff. If you lose something in a hostel there’s a pretty good chance you’ll never see it again.
7. Being homesick for something that doesn’t really exist yet...
Since many long-term travelers (like me) don’t keep their apartment or car there’s not really a solid place to “go back to” yet. So you find yourself homesick for things from your country but know that your life when you go back hasn’t really been set up yet.
8. Making friends with people and then immediately having to say goodbye because you are both traveling.
This one. This one sucks so much. You might see them again but you know there’s a greater chance you never see those people again in your entire life. It’s both freeing and depressing.
9. Bus drivers that won’t shut up (some people like it but it bugs the hell out of me)
Like my bus driver from Greymouth to Fox Glacier who kept his mike on at all times which meant we could hear his congested breathing over the speakers for the entire ride. Also you can try to listen to music but will be interrupted every few minutes by a “fun fact” you never wanted to know.
10. Stumbling around in a dark hostel trying not to wake people up….
I just want to be able to see my stuff and not step on a plug in the dark.
11. ….and on the other side having to always wear earplugs to bed because someone is always moving around or doing something annoying when you’re trying to sleep.
I just want to sleep without the sound of ruffling plastic bags and zippers.
And those are some of my least favorite things about backpacking and traveling long term. I know that the good memories are worth the lack of sleep and future back problems but hey, you’ve just gotta vent sometimes, you know?
Me & my trusty backpack with my too heavy laptop bag before leaving for Auckland...how has it been three months already?!?