By Taylor Squires
If I’m going to be honest, I never thought in a million years that I could successfully backpack through Europe.
I’m the type of person who showers twice a day, brings three different purses on a two-day trip to Toronto and prefers to sleep on a bed as oppose to the concrete floor of a bus station in the middle of Berlin.
The lifestyle that comes along with backpacking undoubtedly made me nervous but there was still a part of me that wanted to give it a try.
During the last two weeks of September I had the opportunity to go backpacking throughout Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, and Germany.
Not only did I have an amazing time but I also came to realize a few significant things, which in turn, has led me to draft up the top three reasons why I think you should backpack at least once in your lifetime.
Learning to live off of less.
There is no denying that a large portion of today’s society has a problem with overconsumption.
As you can probably gather from the first paragraph of this article, I am extremely guilty of this. I struggle with constant urges to buy things that I really don’t need and even after I make the purchase, I still find myself wanting more.
When I was packing for my six-month exchange, I forced seven pairs of shoes into my suitcase. Seven. And that is not including winter boots.
While backpacking, I had to learn to live off of less. I brought the absolute bare minimum because I knew that the more I packed, the more weight I had to carry on my back for fourteen days.
At first, I was not impressed. I had no clue how I was ever going to pull it off but I can tell you now that wearing the same sweatshirt for three days in a row is extremely liberating and you should definitely give it a try.
Collecting moments not things.
During the second week of the trip, we spent three days at Oktoberfest, which is held in Munich, Germany.
Instead of staying at a hotel or in a hostel, we decided that it would be cheaper and more fun to stay at a nearby campsite despite the fact that we had absolutely no camping gear other than two small tents.
We were going to buy sleeping bags but at 75 euros each, we decided to use our fleece blankets instead (you know, the really light ones that are sometimes given out on an airplane).
Needless to say, we froze.
At the time, I can’t say that I was the happiest camper but looking back on it now, we made so many memories. Had we opted for the hostel or the sleeping bags, we wouldn’t have nearly as many jokes as we do now and if I had to do it all over, I would freeze time and time again.
Getting out of your comfort zone
There are so many cheesy quotes on the Internet that talk about getting out of your comfort zone and believe it or not, they’re right. Backpacking allows you to do things that you might have never tried otherwise.
For example, I never thought that I could actually go inside of a public shower let alone actually shower in it but here I am, still alive and breathing.