If you’ve taken anything away from our blog, I hope it was that anyone can go vagabonding. I’m not going to say you have to go backpacking for a year, because that is definitely not for everyone. Some people are unhappy when they’re away from their loved ones and home comforts. And that’s fine. But if you’re at all interested in independent travel, don’t keep putting it off. Start saving up money now. Start doing research now. Here are some of the sources we used for inspiration and information during our trip planning:
- Travel Independent. The most comprehensive and user-friendly resource for future backpackers.
- Vagabonding by Rolf Potts. Amazing book about the vagabonding lifestyle. Absolutely required reading!
- BootsnAll. Useful travel articles and forums.
- Thorn Tree. Best and most popular travel forum on the web. Whatever your question is, you’ll find the answer here.
- Everything Everywhere. Gary Arndt (who also happens to be from Wisconsin) sold his house in 2007 and has been traveling around the world since. I’ve spent many hours reading his blog posts and looking at his pictures.
- CouchSurfing. Social network for travelers or anyone interested in hosting/meeting them.
- Airbnb. Rent rooms or entire apartments from locals.
Just don’t make excuses. You don’t have to be young, single, and rich (although that would make it much easier). We’ve met fellow travelers of all ages, races, nationalities, and backgrounds, from families with children to fearless elderly people. And don’t think you have to go somewhere exotic to have an adventure. Remember we have amazing national parks and regions to visit right here in America.
If you do decide to go backpacking, don’t worry too much about the details. It’s easy to spend hours agonizing over your packing list, but as long as you start with your essentials (passport, debit card, cash, medications, sturdy shoes, and non-cotton clothing), you’ll be fine. You’re not going to the moon. There will be stores selling whatever you’ll need. (It might take you all day to find them, but they’ll be there.)
Know that you may have more bad experiences than good ones, but those bad experiences will make you a stronger and more interesting person. You’ll probably meet some amazing people and some obnoxious people. You may often feel confused or conflicted, and that’s okay. The whole point is to shake up your worldview. Be prepared and make an itinerary, but don’t feel like you have to follow it. Listen to your instincts and be on your guard, but don’t think everyone is out to get you.
And, of course, have fun!