What I have learned during 2 weeks of backpacking
I am two weeks in to my backpacking adventure, with four more to go. Already I have learned a lot about myself, about traveling, not to mention everything I’ve learned about the cities I’ve visited. Here are some of the most important:
- Sunscreen is important! I’ve been applying sunscreen every single day. It’s extremely important when you’re out in the sun for 6-10 hours every day. I’ve never spent so many hours in the sun for so many days in a row. I’ve even taken to carrying my travel-size sunscreen around with me, to reapply periodically during the day. Just imagine getting a sunburn and then going out adventuring the following day with your skin all crispy! Not fun.
- Water is important! Water will make all the difference between feeling energized and feeling dead. Not merely during the summer, but especially during the summer. So far in Italy it’s been in the mid to high 80s fahrenheit almost every day I’ve been here.
- If you have the chance to take a shower, take advantage of it. If you wake up 20 minutes before your alarm, the first thing you should do is listen closely to see if someone is in the shower. If no one is, gather up your supplies quickly and get in there, because it might become occupied if you wait 20 minutes. If the shower is down the hall, it’s probably best to set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier than you think you’ll need, in case there is a line for the showers.
- Shampoo works remarkably well as soap for washing dirty clothes in the sink. Please don’t think I’m a savage for washing my clothes in the sink. Clothes get dirty, they need to be washed, and laundromats are expensive. Shampoo lathers up very well and leaves your clothes nice and clean. After, simply hang them up wherever you can – on the headboard of your bed, on the windowsill, wherever.
- Portable deodorant spray (lipgloss-tube size) is a very smart investment. For a very low cost, and almost no room taken up in your purse or daybag, you can ensure that you don’t smell like a beast. It’s a lifesaver, truly, especially when you hike 414 steps up a Renaissance tower like I did yesterday.
- Toothpaste applied on mosquito bites stops them from itching! A fellow traveler told me this, and I didn’t believe it until I tried it, but it actually works!
- Travel light! No, lighter than that! One of the wisest sayings regarding traveling is the following “When preparing for travel, lay out all of the clothes you plan to bring and all of the money you plan to bring. Then, take half the clothes and twice the money.” This isn’t a joke, it’s the downright truth. I’m traveling for 6 weeks with the backpack I used every day in university. It’s stuffed full, but it’s smaller than most of the luggage I see other travelers burdened with. I see other people pulling giant suitcases along cobbled streets, and I figure they’re either a) traveling for a very short time, b) new to traveling, c) very materialistic and can’t live without their four pairs of shoes and eighteen different outfits, or d) suffering and wishing they had packed lighter.
- Make friends! I’m enjoying traveling alone, because I find it much easier to strike up conversations with people than if I were traveling with someone. I’ve met so many fascinating people, and I’ve had such fun experiences. When traveling you don’t just learn about the places you’re visiting, you also learn a lot about random places all over the globe, from talking with the people who live there.
Do you have any advice that you think should be included in this list? What have you learned during your travels? I’d love to hear it.
Three essentials – water, fan, and deodorant. Not pictured – sunscreen.