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Backpacking Zen

Backpacking Zen

Thank you to Leyla Giray for contributing this post to GoGirlfriend. We’re a community-based travel blog and we welcome submissions from everyone. Whether you’re a budget-baller or a first class only kinda traveler, we’d love to hear from you. Visit our Writer’s Guidelines and learn how you can share your travel advice, stories and adventures!

Backpacking isn't an activity - it's a state of mind...

Backpacking ZenBackpacking ZenIt's akin to slow travel, without limits, long-distance and timeless travel.

It's also light travel, bearing only what you can comfortably carry for a day on foot.

Backpacking is a state of being - one is a backpacker, one doesn't do backpacking.

It's membership in a tribe, a special tribe of outcasts for a week or a year, emigrants who have left home in search of... something different, something outside themselves.

Backpackers argue about the line between travel and tourism

"How long have you been on the road?"
Tourist: A week
Backpacker: A year
At least that's what backpackers like to think.

But it's not just a question of time. I've been a backpacker for as little as 2 weeks, for as long as 3 years. What makes it different is the spontaneity, not knowing where I'm going next. It's freedom, unshackled by return dates or work.

It's the camaraderie, joining with others for a day or a week, linking up with strangers from strange lands in a common search for differences - and similarities.

It's about carrying a backpack and leaving your hands free to touch, feel, wave or just plain hang on to overcrowded buses.

It's staying at a hostel rather than a hotel, spending less than I have to, going off the beaten path (especially where people tell me I shouldn't) and talking to people - bus drivers, street cleaners, presidents, midwives - the many people who make up that foreign land.

It's about what they see, not about what I see.

Have a backpacking question for our Woman on the Road? Post your questions here for Leyla and she'll answer them in a future post.

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