10 SIGNS YOU'RE A VETERAN BACKPACKER
Do you remember the first time you hit the road? The first time you hopped across to a new destination? The first time you set foot on the backpacking trail of Thailand? The first time you dove in tropical waters? The first time you sampled the spicy chilli mixes of South America? If you answered 'no' (and not because you've never done em'!) to any of the above, then you might just fit the bill of the veteran backpacker. The LBW fam is guilty of the whole shebang methinks…
You laugh when someone says they're going travelling for a weekend
One of the more irritating aspects of attaining the glorious heights of the veteran backpacker is that all travel is shifted down a notch. Those two-week getaways in the sun become just short taster sessions. And those city breaks for just a couple of days are nothing more than child's play to you now. Unfortunately, those six-month odysseys through the sticks of the Indonesian jungles, that lengthy gap year spent pottering around Africa, and those endless days of beach hopping around Europe now mean that you can't help but crack a smile when a friend mentions they're off travelling like you used to do. You smug so and so!
Your diet is more varied than your friends'
While everyone else contents themselves with the usual rigmarole of Chicago deep-pan pizzas and Sunday roast dinners, you, the returned prodigal traveler, simply cannot bring yourself to return to your homeland's cuisine. After all, you've sampled the lemongrass infusions of Shanghai, the chilli-topped meat cuts of Bolivia, the earthy bean stews of Peru, the sizzling noodle fries of Thailand, the gado gado stacks of Indo – the list goes on…
You do yoga before breakfast
Forget rising and cracking a couple of eggs like you used to do in the days before you were a globetrotter a la Alexander Supertramp – these days it's all about finding your inner Zen and realigning the chakras before chowing down on the morning meal. Blame the yogis you met in the Himalayan mountains, or put it down to all those sunrises spend pulling downward dogs on the cliffs of Krabi during the LBW YogaLife.
You can't stop thinking about that next trip
Ah, the travel bug. Some call it the only disease they'd never want cured, and it's easy to see why. The symptoms really aren't that bad at all: an insatiable wanderlust; a perpetual tan; loads of stamps in the passport. Oh, and then, of course, there's the ceaseless need to just keep on moving. Yep, even if you’re fresh from a three-month tour of the Thai Andaman, or only moments ago alighted from a Boeing just outta' Bali, you know you're a globetrotting veteran if you're already planning that next itinerary around the planet. Guilty.
You're pretty much always out of dosh
Unless you're one of those lucky flashpackers with a wad of dollars already behind you, the chances are that the backpacking life has taken its toll on the bank account. No worries though, for as a wise anon once noted: "Travel is the only thing you purchase that makes you richer". And darn knows the LBW family agrees there's no price tag on the globe that could be placed on Koh Phi Phi's sunsets and Koh Tao's reefs, Costa's misty jungles and encounters with three-toed sloths in the rainforests of Central America!
You've slept in your fair share of stations/bus stops/ferries/airports
There comes a time in the life of every backpacker when there's no money for a hostel, or a late train departure means there's nowhere better to bed down than in the station itself. Cue a makeshift pillow, usually made out of the overturned padding of your own backpack, a throw-over blanket (a jumper will do) and any old bench, and bingo – it turns out to be the night that defines you as a veteran.
You no longer dread the airport – you love it!
Once upon a time you dreaded those wasted hours; sitting, twiddling your thumbs, in the departure halls of the airport, ticking time away until the loading gate popped up and the holiday began. These days, those people-packed halls, from Suvarnabhumi to Singapore, O'Hare to Heathrow, are hallowed ground. After all, that's where you go when it's time to take the next trip. The place where the steel birds of the air open up the promised Full Moon Parties, or beckon with the surf-washed sands of Nicaragua and the faraway Pacific.
Your passport takes dog earing to new heights
It's been stamped by grumpy Croatian border guards. It's been stamped by smiling Thai clerks. It's been stamped by shout-happy German train attendants. It's been stamped by meticulous Indian airport monitors. Visas occupy all the pages, and smudged finger marks are scrawled across the pull outs. Yep, it's your trusty passport – your handy compadre on the road. Dog-eared and scuffed, it's got all the same scars as you do from a life spent on the road.
There are simply too many currencies in your change draw
From dirty old Czech koruna to shimmering new Singaporean dollars, curiously-shaped French francs from a bygone era to pretty plastic Australian notes, that foreign currency repository is packed to bursting these days. Yep, it might be a handy place to pick up a few bob before heading out on that next traveling trip, but it's also a chaotic currency-based testimony to just how many places you've been to over the years.
Patches take up every inch of your backpack
Sewing and sewing every idle moment you get aboard those Javanese trains and Indian overnight connections has really taken its toll on your backpack. You've got scuffed and ripped flags, city symbols and coats of arms occupying every square inch. There's the tricolor of Ireland (a remnant from a party weekend on the Guinness). There's the emblazoned eagle of Polska (one from that summertime jaunt through eastern Europe). There's the rising sun of Japan (left over from that mind-boggling month in Tokyo). And that's just some of the patches taking up space on your travel pack!
If you can think of any more tell-tale signs you're dealing with a veteran backpacker, we'd love to hear about them in the comments below. Or, if you think it's time you started globetrotting to earn your status, be sure to check out all the awesome tours we've got at LBW travel.