I am very curious to see what responses people post to this thread as the reason I am going backpacking for a year round Oz is to, find myself by becoming more independant, mature, learn diverse cultures and gain a lovefor the smaller things in life.
I am also very interested to see if South Africa is similar to Oz as I gew up in South Africa and now live in a tiny town in England where everyone knows everyone.....BORING!
I am especially keen to hear from people that have already done the trip... What did you get out of it emotionally and spiritually or anything else. Was it amazing to get away from all the problems in your life and clear your head?
Thanks for any responses
Last year I did 9 months in Nepal, India, Western/Central Europe and parts of the Middle East, predominantly solo.
What I got out of it was more experiences, memories, knowledge (learnt more travelling than going to uni!) and friends. I got put outside of my comfort zone several times, which made me more confident in dealing with certain situations. I also found that, despite being in total different areas of the world on my own, things always seemed to fall in place.
I was also challanged and sometimes had to communicate through body language and context, and relied a lot on my instincts.
I learnt that human nature is so similar around the world, and found myself empathetic towards people of different religions, customs, lifestyles, etc.
Also in spending a big part of it alone I also learnt a lot about myself, like my interests. For example I had a newfound interest in trekking and the beauty of natural landscapes after seeing so many different places.
You learn a lot about your life before you left as once you are outside your normal domain, it is easier to analyse and think about it.
I was always pretty grounded at home, open-minded and had a good direction so there were no 'problems' that I wanted to get away from. I just wanted to experience new things and broaden my horizons a bit.
The lifestyle however is a big change, where you don't have to work, and can just float around different places with your biggest worry being "oh I should book somewhere to stay next week". However, I found that after several months I missed the grounding and routine I had at home. Although, I did some voluntary work which was great for this aspect, and when I left the placement it felt like I was leaving home again.
As for 'clearing my head', to be honest I think it did the opposite. A lot of the times when travelling you learn about new things, theres many things you see that you may ponder about. You are exposed to so much more sometimes you can lose your grounding as it all seemed pretty simple before you left. It'll open new doors (eg. if you could see yourself living/working in another country), and you'll meet heaps of other people that have been to cool places, and your lust for travel will increase, not go away
The reasons you listed for backpacking are spot on, so you should love it.
Although I think for the 'learning diverse cultures' part of it, it would be great to include a place with a different language, race, religious background, etc. so I'd encourage you to take advantage of the region and perhaps do at least a couple weeks in Asia. For me I found the more different the country, the more there is to grow and learn.
I also visited family in Europe and where my father and mother grew up, which made my learn invaluable things about my heritage, which I'm sure you'll appreciate in South Africa.
I think I've rambled on enough - enjoy your experience!
Thank you for your reply has made me think alot about what I want out of my trip.
When I mean problems at home I meant, getting away from my life back in England so that I could think about the direction of my life, the person that I want to become, and my goals for the future with out the people that would normally be around me to persuade my decision. I am currently at uni. Just about to finish my first year and I am loosing focus on my studies because I feel very closed down where I live because I grew up in a massive city where I would constantly be meeting new people and new cultures etc... At home its ALWAYS the same thing and it makes e depressed.
For me going travelling will fill that need of exploring and pushing my comfort zone. Hopefully I will be able to clear my head of my issues back home so that when I get home I will know what direction I want to take my life.
What you have said has given me a lot to think about and I am considering going to Asia now.
Thanks for your reply
Asia is definately a great place to go. You see a truly different culture and lifestyle and scenery. The locals i met there were also very inspiring people.
Travelling to Australia, changed my life I would say. I was in a boring finance job, and wanted change. It paid well, i never went without anything and got what i wanted, all the time. But after a while it got abit shallow. So i dropped everything, and went to Australia.
It helped me on so many levels, I have a new respect for people who can't talk English properly. Or speak broken English. Only after a week in Australia, I had a guy from Italy, asking me how to use the washing machine, and how to wash his dresses??? I asked him if he ment clothes, after i got to know him abit, and he thought dresses was the correct word. He then thought i had an idea he was gay after i told him what a dress was in English, we laughed about it. Nothing agaisnt gay people by the way. I got more pleasure from reading books, and relaxing and seeing sites, things are so fast paced in London. I worked for "free" in exchange for reduced accomidation cost at the hostel i was staying at. This was not me at all, lol. I found myself wanted to help people more.
It only hit me i gave everything up when i was flying over India on my way to Australia, and as for getting to the airport in Sydney. I had no idea what to do. But i met great friends, and partied the whole month of december.
That said, I am going back in November for 2/3 months, then off to New Zealand. When i got back from Australia, my boss and friend offered me a job right off the plane. But i miss Australia and the ease of life out there so im going back.
I agree with erik85
I thought it's would clear my head but it has done the exact opposite. although now I don't care about owning things anymore. I've come to the conclusion that the less stuff I own the more freedom I have.