By Nikki Majewski

Travelling as a backpacker has been the greatest learning experience of my life. For the past decade, I’ve honoured simplistic travel by journeying afar for long stints of time with nothing but the essentials on my back.

During those wayfaring years, my default choice was to ‘rough it’ – it’s certainly not the way most people choose to vacation – but for me, each trip was an adventure and each adventure offered up new learning opportunities.

I’ve learnt, the more you travel with less, the more courageous you become. As a backpacker, you’re stripped right back and it sort of forces you to embrace the world for what it really is and harder still, let it embrace you back. But to reach that point, I had to learn to let go of expectations, excess and judgements. I discovered an openness to all that it offers and have learned to base my world knowledge on my own experiences of places, people and politics and not on the current news agenda.

Everyone has a story; the tuk tuk driver who picks you up the airport, the mother running the guest house where you stay, the old men playing chess in a side alley, even the little girl selling counterfeit books on a street corner.

It’s the stories of these people who I’ve been blessed to meet during my travels that have helped to round out my perspective, instil gratitude within me and want to make a change.

Making such a change can occur in a million little ways. For instance, swapping out judgement for curiosity toward minority groups or ethnicities; looking into the history of different people and regions or choosing to support local small businesses rather than their corporate counterparts.

Backpacking – in my eyes – is about travel, not tourism. It’s about challenging yourself, exploring the realms outside your comfort zone and opening yourself up to friendship and meaning outside of your everyday experience.

Take a chance and turn your next vacation into an adventure as a backpacker.

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