by Erin Elaine
I have been backpacking for almost 5 weeks now.
About 2 weeks in I wrote about what I had learned, and this is an update.
Don’t feel guilty about taking some slow days. No matter how amazing your surroundings and how much you want to see and do, your body needs rest. You’re not superhuman. You will enjoy yourself a lot more if you don’t push it.
Don’t be afraid to admit some weaknesses or ask for help. My back was killing me from carrying my heavy backpack without a decent waist strap. After putting up with it for a day and a half, I popped in to a pharmacy in Paris and minutes later had some over the counter miracle medicine.
Being homesick is normal. I miss my family, I miss my friends, I miss sleeping in the same bed for more than 3 nights, I miss having an organized closet and bathroom and not having to dig into the depths of my bag for every little thing. All of this is normal and okay, and at the end I will have some amazing memories and I know it is worth it.
Trust your gut. If your gut tells you it’s not worth waiting in a long line in 90F heat to see another cathedral, trust it. If you sit down at a restaurant and then decide you’d rather eat somewhere else, get up and leave. If your gut is telling you to take a shower or call your grandma or skip a famous museum, trust it.
Traveling can be hard, but the rewards will stay with you forever. Moving from city to city, learning the lay of the land in a foreign country, getting lost, getting sick. But nothing worth its weight is free. Traveling is amazing, it makes you feel so alive. It’s like taking a dull penny and shining it up like new. It gets you out of your rut, out of your comfort zone like nothing else can. It teaches you new things and makes you realize so much about yourself and your life and your priorities. It makes you love the world. It makes you laugh and it makes you smile and it can bring a tear to your eye. And it’s something that you will remember always.