What I learnt from living out of a backpack.
It seems like a lifetime ago that I quit my job in South Korea , packed up my life into boxes , put a bag on my back and left for my 3 month journey across Asia. Looking back on it now I have come to realize that it was the most transformative period of my life thus far.
I am not going to tell you about the top ten places to eat in Nepal nor am I going to tell you about the top 5 places to get smashed on cocktails in Vietnam, but what I am wanting to share is the perspective that I have gained and the life lessons that I have learnt having spent the last 3 months living out of a backpack and travelling through 4 beautiful mind altering countries.
Live simply — don’t complicate it
If you have done long term travelling you will know how important it is to pack light . This is something that I struggled with, but after surviving for 3 months with my few possessions amd items of clothing in my your backpack you very quickly come to realize just how little you actually need in life to be happy , yet we insist on living in excess. Long term travel means you don’t have the comforts that you have at home. No flat screen TV , no fridge filled with an endless supply of yummy snacks , no wardrobe of clothes and shoes and no draw filled with jewelry .Living out of your backpack teaches you to re-evaluate what is truly essential in your life. How differently would you live life if you knew that everything you owned had to fit into your backpack, what would you regard as essential?
The present moment is all we have, savor it.
Travel teaches you how to appreciate time. Time and the world slow down. There is no rush for anything, no office to get to, no boss screaming deadlines in your face and no social obligations and events to attend. Your only obligation becomes learning how to live in the present moment and learning how to savor it. For me one of the greatest aspects of the journey was the time given to me. For the first time in years I was able to just sit with my thoughts, appreciate what was in front of me and not worry about the future. This is something that I found incredibly difficult to do when I was working and living in a society that basis their entire existence around “Pali Pali” which translates to “Quickly quickly”. Eat your food “Pali pali”, enjoy the moment but “Pali pali”. What a contrast to what I have experienced in Nepal. “Don’t worry you are in Nepali time” which translates to taking things slow , not rushing and just embracing the moment. I won’t lie, at times I found really difficult to apply this very laid back attitude, especially when you have buses to catch and your food takes two hours to get to you, but again, you learn to just let it be, take things slow and to live in the moment .
We live in a beautiful world, explore it
It has been 3 months of witnessing the most jaw dropping landscapes and discovering the most magical hidden places, places that I remember reading about in National Geographic and only ever dreaming about seeing for myself .Here I am years later witnessing those very same landscapes, except the un- photo shopped version. In the last 3 months I have witnessed sunrises and sunsets in some of the most beautiful places on earth.
I watched a sunset over the lush green fields of Sapa valley in Northern Vietnam and chased a sunset over an ocean whilst scootering on beautiful Cat ba island .I sat on top on an ancient temple in Bagan, Myanmar with the love of my life watching the sunrise with the hot air balloons filling the skies. I sat at Annapurna base camp in the Himalayas and watched a new day dawn with the sun rising in-between the majestic snowy giants. It was an experience that I never imagined I would get to witness first hand.
Just thinking about all that I have seen in a few short months overwhelms me. It overwhelms me because it makes one realize just how much magnificence exists in the world. This world has been given to us because the creator intended for us to see it. Life is not meant to be spent in one corner of the earth, he wants us to explore it, to marvel at his creation and to appreciate the beauty that exists around us
Your life is good — appreciate it
Let’s talk about problems, our problems which are so #firstworld compared to the REAL problems that the rest of world faces.
Feeling tired from carrying your 5kg backpack on your back up to the Himalayas? Sore feet and feeling exhausted after a few hours of walking? It could be worse , you could be walking for over 10 hours a day in flip flops and shorts with a 10kg metal gas jar on your back all the way up to base camp. Yes, this is the life of the local porters in the Himalayas who transport goods up to the mountains. Goods to provide trekkers like you and me with comforts such as food , hot water , and gas. They get paid almost nothing to do this yet , they do it without complaining and with a smile on their face #perspective
Frustrated with the slow wifi, and bad face time quality ? It could be worse ,you could have no connection at all.
Irritated by the cold shower and lack of water pressure? It could be worse . You could have no water and be forced to walk km’s to the town well only to be told that there is no more water. It could be worse , you could be told that you can only shower once a week. Yes , I witnessed such things. Staying with local families truly opens up one’s eyes.
Complaining about your bedroom and the fact that it is too mall ? It could be worse, you could be sharing it with 6 other people.
Stressed about which item of clothing to wear because you have so many? It could be worse , you could be wearing the same item of clothing for 3 days straight due to having a limited supply of clothes.
Tired of sitting in the traffic in your lovely comfortable car or not happy about the car that you are driving ? It could be worse, you could be on an overcrowded bus, standing for hours waiting, t with people falling on top of you with your baby crying in your arms wanting to be fed.
Don’t want to go to school or do your homework ? It could be worse, it could be your first day of school and you can’t afford the textbooks that are required for your classes.
These are just a few of the many real struggles that I witnessed during my journey. These challenges and struggles really make you reevaluate your own life problems. Having experienced some of these problems first hand now I will never take things such as running water , wifi , food and clothes for granted again. It is only when we leave our comfort zone and put ourselves and our lives in the shoes of those who have far less than us do we truly learn to appreciate all that we have.
Travel by faith not by wifi.
There is a famous bible verse “For we walk by faith not by sight” and if there was ever a time to follow this verse my time in the Himalayas would be it. As a traveler and digital nomad we so often rely on wifi and internet to get us to our next destination , however there’s no wifi guiding you when you are trekking in the Himalayas, not even Mapsme yo is going to save your lost ass and as a result you are left with no choice but to trust your gut, follow your heart and have faith that you will eventually end up where you need to be.
I will admit I wasn’t very prepared for it to begin with. I’m the girl that decided to go without a guide and a porter and attempt to reach base camp on my own. I’m the girl that decided to trek for 5 days in my running shoes, over glaciers, mud slides and rocky terrain. I am the girl that didn’t have a proper jacket or carry a sleeping bag, but what I did go with was a lot of faith and I’m telling you that made all the difference.
It is amazing how fearless you become when you travel with faith. I had numerous experiences during those 5 days where it was clear that God’s divine intervention helped me. He sent me a dog when I lost my way, this dog that continued to trek with me for 3 hours all the way to the next village. He sent me an amazing group of young guys that encouraged all the way to the top who I now call my Angels of Annapurna .
You see when you walk with faith then anything becomes possible. You become fearless and the world just becomes one huge place of possibilities. You don’t need to necessarily believe in God , but just believe in something greater than yourself for that belief alone will get you over mountains and any obstacles that come your way.
Trekking to Annapurna base camp truly was a journey of “Travelling by faith and not by wifi”
Having experienced all that I have in the last 3 months I have come to realise how life should be lived which I believe is in the present moment , with minimal stress , an abundance of happiness and a desire to give back to the world where we can .
My words will never be able to truly express what I have experienced and no pictures even with the fancy Instagram filters will be able to recreate the scenes and landscapes that I have witnessed first hand , but what I hope you will take away from this is to have the courage to take that leap of faith , to leave your comfort zone , pack your bags and go out and see as much of the world as possible, because it is only once you leave and experience all that the world has to offer that we are truly able to appreciate life in its entirety.
So book that one way plane ticket and see where you end up. Choose freedom over captivity , serenity over stress, adventure over routine , risk over security and the extraordinary over the ordinary.
Live the life that you imagined.