Adrenaline & Adventure · Backpacking and Beyond · Inspirational Corner · Thoughts · Travel Listicle

6 Lifestyle Changes That Happens After Backpacking

Thought Catalog published this article and I might as well post it here in my blog. 

While there are plenty of deeper and more meaningful things that happen when you travel, there are also minor ways that it changes you. Yes, sure, you’ve found yourself and you now have a new perspective in life. We get it. But besides all the wonderful life changing travel reflections many has confessed, travel also could affect us in the littlest ways that sometimes happens to be unnoticeable. May it be subconsciously or voluntarily, travel, especially backpacking on a budget, is bound to make a few minor tweaks in your lifestyle. Little things they may be, but it might even make life more convenient for you in the long run.

1.) You become more comfortable prancing around without makeup. 

 No shower, no makeup, no filter after a 12 hour overnight train ride– just the good ol’ ugly people lighting 

Although I’ve never really been dependent on it, I do love makeup. I buy them, I play with them, and at the right occasion, I wear them. For a while I felt more confident stepping outside with make up on, because it really does enhance my face. I used to always have a carefully chosen set of cosmetics packed whenever I travel. But then came a day when I completely just stopped giving a ffff. First of all, makeup can get quite heavy. It’s such a compromise on my baggage limit that it usually turns out to be a waste because I almost always never use it. Second of all, I travel to humid places that whatever little makeup and time I invested on would just melt away. And finally, you learn as you wander around that no one really cares. Yeah ok I get it, it’s a personal boost of confidence. But come on, when you’re traveling, who really has the time to do a full contour? I can’t even commit to brushing my hair on a regular basis. So the less I wore it, the more I just got used to it, and the more I began to appreciate myself without wearing any at all. A few years ago, you won’t catch me posting photos of myself without any make up on (or at least I’m covered with big sunglasses if I’m bare faced). Today, absolutely zero ffffs are given. Not because I feel flawless. I haven’t completely given up on makeup because I’m still a lady and I love them, but I’m just more comfortable without it now. #IWokeUpLikeThis

2.) You learn how to compromise with shitty public bathrooms.

We all love the comfort of our own clean toilets (and I’m Asian, so I love my own bidet too). When I come home, I look forward to having access to my own bathroom more than I look forward to sleeping in my own bed. Traveling obviously does limit your choices when it comes to doing your business in so many ways. When you stay at hostels, you have to share communal bathrooms. But that’s not even the case, because at least hostels try to maintain the cleanliness. It’s when you’re in a long journey or just out exploring in the middle of nowhere that nature just decides it needs to go. So whether you have to pay 20 baht for a dirty little stall with pee drops everywhere, or whether the only toilet present is the squatting kind right on the ground, you just go. Bowel systems simply just don’t have time nor tolerance for your picky ass bs.

3.) You become a pro at packing.


Packing will never be easy. As much as I’d like to think I don’t give a ffff, I still like to look cute. But when you have to unpack and repack practically every other night, you inevitably obtain pro skills that rookies just don’t have. You also learn the importance of packing light thus you begin to eliminate unnecessary materials when you do. If before I had to ponder an entire week picking out clothes to pack, this time I could pack everything I need a couple of hours before departure. If before I had to second guess what I’ll be using or not, this time it’s like a quick instinctual reflex that would guide me. If before I had to stress about the check in baggage weight limit, today I could fit everything in a carry on. I think I deserve honorable bragging rights for that.

4.) You master the art of sleeping in inconvenient situations.

For a light sleeper like me, it’s been a challenge to even get used to sleeping in a hostel dorm. It’s already hard enough for me to knock out on a plane. Travel doesn’t change any sleeping problems, but it does build up your tolerance. In no time, I find myself mastering different positions sleeping in any form of moving vehicle while sitting down. I managed how to squeeze in a little disco nap at airports, hotel lobbies, the floor, and pretty much wherever I can when I need to. Best of all, after some time, you start freaking out less at the sound of bugs crawling on the floor. Just kidding, that’s a lie. I’ve been in the Philippines for six years now and nope, not going to happen.

5.) You drink beer.


For those who doesn’t drink beer, you probably will start to. It’s simply the cheapest option to drink whether it’s happy hour or not. You don’t necessarily have to drink, but trust me, you will. But no matter how much you love your special cocktails and wine, or how much you’d like to avoid calories, the money you’ll save from sticking to $1 beers instead will go a long way. And that leads me to number 6.

6.) You become frugal AF


Because duh. Every budget backpacker knows that every single penny counts. Perhaps it’s even the SEAsian spirit in me that I’ve been so used to haggling as much as possible. I’m really just trying to make it to as much places as I could. Back then you can’t make me walk more than a block with a luggage for shit. And on my first couple of years in the Philippines, I wouldn’t even commute using the public transportation. These days that cab money can be a couple of drinks, maybe a cocktail if I wanted to splurge. A surf lesson. A boat ride to a secret island. From a third world princess to a legitimate budget traveler, I’ve taken big steps here, you guys. I didn’t even realize how bad it’s gotten until a friend called me out. “Wtf, we have to pay 20 pesos to sit in this hut even if we bought their food?” Sure that’s less than a quarter. But sometimes it’s the principles too, yeah?

“If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them – wherever you go.” – Anthony Bourdain

51 thoughts on “6 Lifestyle Changes That Happens After Backpacking

    1. Thank you! It’s actually my third time getting published with them and there’s really no secret haha. They accept submissions and if they like it, they publish it within two weeks althoug the longest I’ve waited was a week though so they’re pretty fast. They do LOVE listicles like this so you can’t go wrong with that, haha.


  1. Love it!! I can’t say that any of my trips over seas have been fully backpacking but with the acceptation of beer, allergic, I couldn’t agree more. I budget like no other when I’m traveling and who needs make up on a regular day!


      1. Ahaha well I drank it before I realized and I vote blessing, I never really like the tastes to begin with so now I don’t hurt feelings when I say no


  2. Great post Erica and congrats to having this published elsewhere! 🙂 I can so much relate myself to Makeup part 🙂


  3. Well, you look great even with no make up/filter 😉
    When I backpacked in China I was sweaty all the time/no make up as well, but for some reasons, i felt quite happy with my self !


  4. You definitely nailed it. So many of these apply to life as a traveler in general too. You just learn to be a more flexible person in every way possible.


  5. You pretty much nailed it. Actually, most of these apply to travelers in general. We all have to learn how to be more flexible in every situation because there’s no time or ability to be picky when you’re on the road.


  6. Love this! These are so true!!! I’m still horrible at packing though…I start out with good intentions and everything organized and it all goes to hell pretty quickly.


  7. Agreed. After I went nature backpacking, I came back a lot more relaxed about bugs, being dirty, and eating random stuff. I think that actually happens after each trip I take to a new country especially 🙂


    1. Oh I’m sure!! I haven’t gone nature backpacking yet but I’m sure that would be another game changer! Link me to your stories if you have any! I want to get start getting some ideas and see if I can actually handle it!


  8. I second you on sleeping everywhere. We made a cubby house out of a couple of chairs in the corner of San Fran airport once. But I can’t get used to bugs either :/


  9. Hahaha, pretty true! Though I personally didn’t use less make up after backpacking. Never used it anyways, until I started my Youtube Vlogs and put on some occasional mascara now 😉


  10. I don’t think I can backpack at this point in my life. But humor aside (love your photo on #3), when traveling in general, we tend to get less picky if we want to travel more.


  11. I want to say congrats on getting it published on Thought Catalog! 🙂

    I love that you not only think about the big changes but the minor changes as well! I honestly didn’t really think of it until you mention it, such as compromising to toilets haha. You did a great post!


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