To understand the backpackers’ culture, you just gotta do it.
Only once you have a 75 liter bag packed with 1/1,000,000 of what you own, and you shove that bag under some bed in some hostel in some foreign city, hoping no one steals it as you head off to explore that city with the people you’re sharing a room with (that you met five minutes ago), will you completely understand what it is to be a backpacker.
Only until you feel the sense of sheer panic waiting for your train that doesn’t come, that is supposed to take you to the bus station that takes you to the airport, that takes you (on a non-refundable ticket) to another foreign city, will you be a backpacker.
Only until you buy a loaf of bread and a jar of jam that is supposed to stretch for 9 meals over the next three days, will you be a backpacker.
Only until you get over the cultural stereotypes you grew up with, and realize that it’s completely acceptable to make an entirely new set of friends each night, go out with them and have a great time with these strangers, will you be a backpacker.
And only when you can exchange emails and hug these strangers goodbye, realizing the sharp stab of pain you feel deep in your chest is in fact sadness, and these strangers have not only become friends, but you might never, ever see them again…? Well then, I’d say, welcome to the backpacker’s life.
Brook Silva Braga left his cushy gig with American TV network HBO to travel the world with five pounds of clothes and 30 pounds of video equipment to create “A Map for Saturday”–the documentary of a year’s travel through 26 countries on four continents. Brook’s website says, “The bare-bones production set-up yields an intimate window onto the world of long-term, solo travel; moments of stark loneliness and genuine revelation.” Check out the trailer I posted, and Brook’s piece that wraps together a year of travel in 90-minutes.