Going backpacking is an experience that will change you in a lot of ways, teaching you about yourself as well as exposing you to other cultures, ideas and experiences. After you have been travelling for a while, you might find yourself developing some of these backpacking superpowers.
The Ability to Sleep Anywhere
It doesn’t matter if I am on a train rattling through the Canadian countryside, a night bus in Vietnam or an airplane zooming over the Atlantic, I have gotten so used to odd sleeping spots that I can drift off almost anywhere. All I need is a seat with a slight incline and a rolled up sweater as a pillow. It might not be the best sleep in the world and I might wake up with pins and needles down one side of my torso – but that’s life on the road.
Right now you are probably only used to sleeping in your own comfy bed, so your first few nights in transit will be pretty uncomfortable. However, soon you will get used to it and you will be snoring peacefully before the plane even takes off. This is a handy superpower to have, because taking night buses or trains will save you the cost of a night of accommodation as well as get you from Point A to B without wasting a valuable sightseeing day.
The Ability to Eat (Almost) Anything
Travel has blessed me with a stomach of steel. I have eaten everything from guinea pig in Peru to maggots in the Amazon jungle to spicy snake in Laos and chicken butt in Malaysia without any negative consequences. I suppose the more diverse foods your body is exposed to, the stronger your immune system becomes (unless you have an allergy of course).
However, notice that I did say almost anything. Lee and I did get food poisoning once in five years of travel and it was not a fun experience. Read this blog to find out more about eating street food safely and taking care of yourself if you do get stomach upset while travelling.
The Ability to Recognize Accents
I am often able to tell where someone is from within a few minutes of speaking with them because my ear has been trained to hear the difference between accents.
If you struggle to distinguish Scottish from Irish accents, Canadians from Americans or Aussies from Kiwis, don’t worry.The more you travel and speak to people from other parts of the world, the better at distinguishing accents you will become. Now, understanding what they are saying might be a completely different matter (especially the Scottish!)
The Ability to Stretch Your Travel Budget as Much As Possible
When you are backpacking on a budget you will want to make the most of every penny you have saved – because when it’s all gone you will have to go back home to the “real world” and get a job. (Unless you find a way to make money while you travel of course!)
You will learn how to exist in super-frugal mode – cooking your own meals with simple ingredients in the hostel, taking free walking tours, drinking cheap bottles of wine and hitting the museums on the special discount days. This superpower will make your travels a lot more affordable – but make sure that you don’t become too stingy and miss out on something important. Your challenge is to find the right balance between conserving your cash and still fully experiencing your destination.
Another great superpower you will develop while backpacking is the ability to take a deep breath and wait patiently, even in frustrating situations. I was recently flying from Rio de Janeiro back to Canada to visit my family and the flight was delayed for two hours due to a mechanical malfunction with the airplane’s door. The man sitting beside me was getting increasingly annoyed and was loudly sighing and complaining – but I was as cool as a cucumber. Two hours is nothing compared to some of the delays I have experienced while travelling in less organised developing countries and I have learned that there is no point in getting upset!
I said to my stressed out seatmate, “It’s all good, there’s not much we can do about it and we’ll get there when we get there.” Then I put a movie on the seatback screen, reclined and relaxed. Patience is a pretty important travel superpower that will make your experience a lot less stressful.
What Superpowers Have You Developed?
These are just a few of the superpowers you might start to develop during your travels around the world. If you have any other travel powers, let us know about them in the comments!