I just returned from backpacking in Colombia and Costa Rica all through August and into September (2015). A total of about 5 weeks. A couple weeks before that trip I was in Puerto Rico for a week. All my travels have been on my own (it’s easy to meet fellow backpackers in hostels so never be afraid to travel alone!). So far the countries/territories I’ve been to outside of the good ol’ US of A are the following (in order of least recent to most recent):
- Puerto Rico
- Costa Rica
That’s it. Not an impressive list by any means (that’s why I call myself an amateur world traveler). In total it comes to about 10 weeks outside of the US so far in my young, but not that young, life. 28 as I type this.
So why travel? In particular, why travel outside the US? Just to get away from the hustle and bustle of the States? Sure, that’s a good reason. To relax on a fancy resort? Unless you are bringing kids I think you’ll get more out of your trip by avoiding the resorts, and joining the backpacking circuit in the country of your choice for less money. What you will get is a life changing experience that you will remember forever and provide you with plenty of interesting stories to boot.
For me, I’ve never felt more alive than when on the road in a foreign country. Everything is an adventure. Whether it be trying to get a taxi/order food in a foreign language, navigating back to your hostel after a long night of drinking, or even finding an ATM that will take your debit card. All while constantly observing your surroundings to make sure you don’t find yourself in a bad situation. Not to mention there are new things to see around every corner and an endless stream of new people to meet. Of course you should also take on some “excursions”. I’m a big fan of ATVs, biking, hiking, rock climbing/rappelling, white water rafting, and even bungee jumping.
Now traveling can be dangerous. No I’m not talking about being a victim of a crime or being the victim of bad luck on your afternoon bungee jumping trip. Those dangers are over blown to be honest. I’m talking about a more common danger. I’m talking about how traveling can make you lose sense of reality. Backpacking for more than 3-4 weeks will make you start to lose interest in the rat race of life. No longer will acquiring a fancy car, a big house in safe neighborhood, and even settling down and having kids seem as important anymore. All of that stuff can wait. At least that’s how I started to feel and I struggle with it still. So be wary!