9 Universal Myths about Backpacking Travel

You won’t believe what some people say about backpacking. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about the idea of solo travel or an epic backpacking adventure. For some people, backpacking might seem like an unfamiliar and uncomfortable thing to do. But that’s normal, I guess. Because standard society doesn’t ‘educate’ people in such way to promote backpacking. That’s just wrong, right?As a result, all excuses from people who are against backpacking are just put in place to keep you from going. In return, these excuses might also keep you from growing your personality.

That is the exact reason why I want to bust some of these myths about backpacking travel around the globe.


1. You need a traveling partner

There are several different ways to go backpacking. Plus, not one way is better than the other, because every experience will be unique in its own way. Backpacking all depends on who you meet, where you are, how long you will stay and where you will go next. The experience will also be different if you are either traveling solo or together with someone that you know.

What I learned from my personal backpacking experiences is that you don’t need a traveling partner all the time. You definitely can go backpacking around the globe on your own.

  • If you are a solo traveler and you plan to stay alone, you eventually will meet other backpackers. Also, you probably will stay together with them for some time. This is something that is almost completely inevitable. The times that you will be alone, will be perfect for self-reflection. Those moments will be a good learning school for your self-dependency and for growing your personality.


  • When you’ll be backpacking together with a friend, your partner and/or family member, the experience will always be different. Traveling together with someone else can be easier because will always be someone at your side. Keep in mind that this can become annoying as well after some time. Hence, this person might have a slightly different opinion than you about things like food, places to go, when to chill and when to go sightseeing.


  • In case that you do travel solo, you’ll be able to go backpacking in the most flexible way. A fact is that having someone to go backpacking with can make things easier sometimes. But it can also become a burden. For ultimate freedom, do travel solo. Plus, you’ll probably come in contact with much more different people. Plus, you will always be free to go to your next destination.
A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles. Myths backpacking - Unnavigated A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.

2. It’s unsafe to go backpacking

Some people come up with the idea that backpacking is unsafe or even dangerous. It got me thinking about my own backpacking experiences. The fact is that you always have to keep an eye on yourself, in every situation. Keep in mind that basic safety rules are not only applicable on backpacking. Everybody should always follow these rules in their daily lives:

  • Get to know which neighborhoods are safe and which ones are not so safe. Ask at your hostel for more information about the safety of the area. Don’t walk after nightfall in the wrong neighborhood on your backpacking trip. Also, don’t flash any fancy stuff when you are in a risky neighborhood.


  • Book a hostel in advance if you know you are going to arrive late at your destination. Walking around alone on the streets after nightfall with all your belongings is not the best thing to do. This, of course, depends on the backpacking destination are. In risky situations, it’s better to stay close with other backpackers. Have a fresh drink, play a fun game or have a good talk with other backpackers in your hostel.


  • Always stay alert and keep attention to what is happening around you. Better be safe than sorry on your backpacking trip. Always keep an eye on your stuff and put your most valuable stuff in a locker in the hostel.


  • Don’t carry your money altogether in your wallet. Also, don’t show all your money together on your backpacking trip. Keep a smaller amount of money in your wallet, put the rest in a safe place.


3. Travel is too expensive

Some people say that they don’t have the money for backpacking. Also, because they think it’s too expensive. I often don’t agree with this statement. The largest cost you will have is probably going to be your plane ticket. Other costs really depend on how you travel and where you go. South-Asian countries like Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Vietnam… are famous budget backpacking destinations.

Sleep cheap in hostel dorms, make your own food in the kitchen and plan your sightseeing trips wise. Do this and backpacking can be very cheap for you.

Some people say that backpacking is too expensive, but they do have money to go party every weekend. Or for buying a new iPhone, and spending a lot of money on new cars or on other fancy electronics. The high standard for materialism is also a reason that keeps people home from leaving.

My advice for all people: book a plane ticket and try it out at least once in your life. After your first backpacking experience, you can still decide whether backpacking is too expensive or not.

Myths about backpacking - Unnavigated Touching a completely safe rock in Sri Lanka.

4. I won’t be able to fit all the stuff I need in a backpack

Fitting all the stuff you need in a backpack can seem like an impossible task. This is a myth because you imagine yourself needing too much stuff. You don’t need a lot of equipment, clothes or other gear on your backpacking trip.

Only the basic things will do just perfectly. A few pieces of clothing of each type is enough. You can always buy new clothes or wash them in the hostels.

You don’t need super heavy hiking shoes either for every backpacking destination. On my trip to Sri Lanka in 2016, I only had a pair of flip flops and another pair of easy low shoes. Basic clothing, shoes, washing gear, a hygiene kit, basic medicines, and some electronics will do.

5. I will struggle with the language barriers

Another myth to bust is the struggle with language barriers. Non-verbal communication will almost always back you up. Plus, on most backpacking destinations people understand at least the basics of English. Don’t forget that you will probably learn a local language much faster than you think, especially when good communication is rather difficult.

Tip: You can also buy a ‘language for dummies e-books” to get a head start with the local language in a country. Local people will always smile when you are able to speak a few words of their language.

6. It’s only for young people & hippies

The excuse of ‘backpacking is only for young people & hippies’ is dull and incorrect. Why? Because there are many different types of backpackers on the road.

Yes, there are hippies and there are party animal young people, who might as well go to the same backpacking destination as you. But keep in mind that there are also a lot of not-so-young people on the road that travel solo. Or, couples that travel together and other normal people that just like to see the world on a backpacking trip.

Myths about backpacking - Unnavigated Negombo beach, Sri Lanka

7. Travel won’t add any extra value to my life.

One time someone said to me that backpacking doesn’t add any value to life. Hence, in comparison to going to school, university or building a career. I had to bust this myth right away.

Once you had the experience of backpacking around the world, your idea about it will change forever. The experience of new cultures and meeting new people helps to build your personality. Backpacking, in general, has a really positive impact on your life. There is no greater feeling than having your bags packed and knowing you’re ready to go on to your next backpacking destination.

Myths about backpacking - Unnavigated A beach in Sri Lanka on my trip in 2016.


Going backpacking was one the best experiences of my life.
There are several reasons why I recommend backpacking to anyone:

7.1. You learn to appreciate the small things in life

Backpacking will learn you to enjoy the fullest and to make most of every moment. On the road, there will be better moments and less pleasant moments. As a result, you will learn to appreciate the small things in life more and more often on your backpacking trip. This is an important lesson in life: appreciate the small things and embrace every good moment.

7.2. Your perspective of the world will expand

Backpacking around the world will broaden your perspective about the world you live in. Growing up in your home town or city usually features a rather narrow perspective. When you are on the road to different destinations in the world, you will meet new people from different cultures. Hence, different habits, values and ways of living will have an impact on your global perspective. You will learn a lot from everything you see, hear and feel on your backpacking trip.

Flickr: Lucas Marcomini Flickr: Lucas Marcomini

7.3. You will become more open to different cultures and ways of life.

Your senses will pick up a lot of things you probably never have picked up in your life before. Thus, you will get used to other cultures, ways of life and things you might like or don’t like at first. You will eventually become a more open person towards different cultures and other ways of life. All because of the experience of your backpacking trip.

7.4. You learn to value new experiences

When you are on the road as a backpacker, you will constantly have new experiences. New places, new people & new tastes, they all become quite addictive after some time. You learn to value new experiences more. And also, to value experience over things.
I personally realized this most when I got back from my trip to Sri Lanka in 2016. I still feel addicted to go out and search for new experiences. Plus, I don’t value my stuff as much anymore as a did before. I see this as a good thing.

8. I will be too afraid to put myself out there and meet new people.

For some people, this myth might be the reason why they won’t consider a backpacking trip. That’s the reason why I have to bust this myth right away. When the worries of this thought pop into your mind, you are overthinking. Why? You don’t have to meet new people right away or at all on your backpacking trip.

A fact is that you don’t have to do anything you don’t like at all. You can go backpacking on your own and let everything come to you as it is. It can be a good learning school for self-reflection. But fun needs to be a priority.

Don’t think about what could go wrong, think about what you want most and try to achieve it during your backpacking journey.

9. I will take more time to reflect, chill, read, and write.

This last myth is only partially a myth. You probably will take some more time to reflect, chill, read and write more than usual when you are on the road. But you will probably also struggle with finding a balance between going to places, having fun and taking time for yourself. Almost everybody imagines him or herself reading a book in a hammock on a tropical beach if they try to imagine their planned backpacking trip. In reality, this seems harder to achieve than what you imagined before.

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