Backpacking: You’re Doing It Wrong

It’s time to bust out my MS paint skills (which are relatively non existent) and take a look at some of the fine characters you can meet whilst backpacking.

This is just a bit of light hearted fun, everyone likes to travel in different ways (which is fine!) – but I can’t help but feel that some of the people who will proudly tell family and friends that they went backpacking are, well, doing it wrong!

The Rolling Suitcaser

There’s a reason that backpacking has the words ‘back’ and ‘pack’ in it. Those that travel with a rolling suitcase and yet are still doing a lot of walking to/from hostels and train stations are really doing themselves a disservice. A good backpack is worth the money – just make sure you figure out how to adjust it properly so you don’t get a sore back!

Rolling suitcases - you're doing it wrong!


The Outrage At Paying For Sheets & Towels Guy

I’m sure many of us have seen this guy before, he’s a little outraged at the insane fees that the hostel is trying to charge him for sheets or towels. If you’re getting angry at this, you’re doing it wrong. It’s extremely common for hostels to charge you a fee for getting a sheet and towel, if you don’t like it, then you bring along your own travel sheets and a towel. Getting angry at a hostel staff member over something like this is backpacker fail.

The yeller who doesn't like paying for sheets - you're doing it wrong!


Unreasonable Expectations For Reasonable Hostels

This is something I’ve run into a fair bit, especially when backpacking Europe. Some people seem to have completely unreasonable expectations of what it is a hostel should be offering. Let’s put it simply, a hostel should be offering you a bed and a bathroom in relatively clean conditions. All the extra stuff is great, and that’s what makes the best hostels really shine and there are certainly an abundance of these superb hostels all throughout the world. However, bear in mind that not every reasonably priced hostel is going to stun you with its amazing extras and features!

Sometimes you are going to have to share a dormitory with other people, and sometimes they snore. Sometimes the bathroom and toilet will only be cleaned once a day, so if you’re the last person to use it then it’s not going to be spotless. This is all part and parcel of hostel life – don’t worry though, there are heaps of fantastic reasons to stay at hostels too!

The person who has never stayed in a hostel before and will tell you all the reasons they don't like it. Unreasonable expectations of reasonable Hostels!


I Packed Too Much But I Still Don’t Have Enough

Some people pack WAY to much, and then still protest that they have not packed enough. You don’t need more then one pair of jeans. You definitely don’t need more then two pairs of shoes (a lot of people just bring one pair) – and if you do bring along two pairs, one should be a decent pair of walking shoes and the others some casual shoes for all occasions.

If you’re backpacking and want to keep your pack around 15 kilos or so, then there is no room to pack all of your fashionable gear. That’s just the way it goes!

I'm not sure if I have enough shoes and jeans!

When you first start backpacking it’s easy to make mistakes, I know I sure did. I’ve packed too much before and it’s always a little surprise when you get charged for sheets and towels for the very first time.

All I really wanted to say about backpacking through my horrible little stick figure diagrams is:

  • Buy yourself a decent backpack (one that is suitable for your height).
  • Remain calm in stressful situations and you’ll always get better results.
  • Don’t have unreasonable expectations when it comes to hostels.
  • Don’t over pack.

Backpacking is meant to be fun, if you take it or yourself too seriously the fun-o-meter will remain at dismally low levels.

15 Responses to “Backpacking: You’re Doing It Wrong”

  1. Laurence says:

    Travel blogging is all about the paint skills 😉

  2. Jerick says:

    Love the art, I’ll print one out and hang it on my wall 🙂

  3. Yash says:

    Too true my friend (love the drawings) Although i am buying a backpack with wheels, so i can put it on my back, or chris can wheel it for me if my back gets sore! The best of both worlds! haha

    • Tom says:

      Aww, those things are cool Yash! As much as I got on my high horse in the first bit of the article, sometimes it sure is nice being able to wheel your stuff along behind you 😀 Those dual backpack/wheel things look great. I’ll have to find out from you how it went after your trip!

  4. Danny Cruz says:

    Hahaha. I had my first hostel experience in Hawaii… It also wasn’t what I expected. But then again, where I’m from, and my culture… hostels are COMPLETELY different to anything we do. In the end, it all turned out well and I met some great people.

    • Tom says:

      Hi Danny, I’ve haven’t been to Hawaii yet (or the USA at all in fact), and would love to go and can’t wait until I finally get around to backpacking the States.

      You say that you ended up meeting some great people at that hostel?

      I truly think that’s what makes hostels so awesome is the instant camaraderie and social interaction you get with other like minded backpackers – whenever I recommend hostels to people I pretty much tout that as the main benefit (along with keeping your costs down of course).

  5. Haha I love it! I always bring my own towel and sleeping sheet/bag. I usually pre book my hostels and you can tell if they charge extra for sheets by looking at the description usually.

    I do overpack though… can’t help it… im a girl!

    • Tom says:

      Hey Jade, thanks for the comment 🙂

      Good tip about the hostels, it’s true it is NORMALLY in the description of hostelworld/hostelbookers when you book, so it shouldn’t really be a surprise =D

  6. Michelle says:

    Hahaha I love your MS Paint drawings! I’m totally guilty of the last one…although I have definitely improved over the years. On my last trip to Europe, I packed so light, that my friends who came to pick me up from the train station kept asking with concern if I had left another luggage (or two) on the train!

    • Tom says:

      Thanks Michelle! Packing light is definitely a skill, I still need to get better at it! I have a massive 75 litre backpack though (which is great for extended periods on the road), but I really want to get like a small 30-40 litre pack and start taking that when I go on trips instead.

  7. Nicole says:

    I had a question about the backpack with wheels…do you think that would be worth it to get the backpack that doubles as a backpack/roller or is it just better to get the traditional backpack? I’m getting ready to go on my first trip to Europe for 42 days and can’t decide which one to go with! I’m scared of over packing and being stuck carrying it all on my back, but didn’t know if it would be worth it to get the one that doubles as a roller and backpack? Would you even be able to use the roller that much or is mostly everything cobblestone and too hard to roll?

    • Tom says:

      A lot of areas have cobblestones in Europe, honestly, unless you have an issue with your back just get a normal backpack (would be my opinion).. but that’s only because I have a traditional backpack haha. I’ve never tried a hybrid wheel/backpack – give it a go, maybe it’s awesome!

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