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Backpacker #FirstWorldProblems

I chose to gallivant around the world, so I should be happy about it, right?  Well yes, I am actually.  But every now and again there are some things that really bug me. Here are some backpacker #firstworldproblems that in the grand scheme of things aren’t a big deal, but have a tendency to piss me off every time they happen!

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#FirstWorldProblems no wifi!!!!
Must. Have. Wifi

No wifi. Or worse, wifi so poor you can’t do anything on it. I think everyone will back me up here, as wifi is now an essential item on most people’s destination checklist. Unless I know there will be no wifi, when I can actually look forward to a week of relaxation, away from the world of kitten videos and Donald Trump’s ridiculous behaviour; my pet hate is when a hostel or hotel say they have wifi but it keeps cutting out just as I’m trying to upload a photo. Or skype home. Or send a whatsapp message to the cute guy I met. Poor me.

All my clothes smell funky. Having everything rolled up tightly and shoved into a backpack for days on end apparently doesn’t make your clothes smell good. Who knew??  Depending on the humidity of where I am, my clothes seem to consistently smell like wet dog or moth balls. However, it does make you appreciate laundry day so much more.

That old “I’ve got nothing to wear” none-issue actually becomes a reality.  It’s hard to plan what you’re going to wear for the next 6 months when you have limited space in a rucksack.  I am prepared for hiking up a mountain or chilling at the beach, but a hot date?  Unless flip-flops and denim shorts are acceptable, I’m screwed.

Tales of a Backpacker Looking SpecialPeople staring at me. All the time. No, I’m not from “round ‘ere”; obviously the blonde hair and the fact I’m several inches taller than most people in South America means I’m a foreigner. Nevertheless, why do people have to stare soooo much? I’m from Europe, not outer space.

Locals complementing me on my Spanish. I suppose I should be pleased about this one, but see point 3 above, I’m not an alien. Just because most tourists don’t speak a word doesn’t mean that we’re all mono-lingual . Sometimes we do try and learn some Spanish. Sometimes.

photo credit: Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs


People warning me about going everywhere else. The Ecuadorian taxi driver telling me all Colombians are bad people.  Peruvians telling me Ecuadorian food sucks.  A Venezuelan telling me Brazil is dangerous.  Every single person telling me that everyone else I meet will try and rob me. Sometimes I wish people would just let me enjoy the experience without paranoia of food poisoning, mugging or kidnapping.  I do appreciate people looking out for me of course, but that wide eyed look and sharp intake of breath when I tell people my next destination really is wearing thin.

YES I AM TRAVELLING ALONE. I get this from everyone, and I suppose it is unusual in Latin America, but most people I meet from other parts of the world (who aren’t travelling alone) are also surprised that I am travelling alone. And brave enough to leave my hostel without an armed escort and bullet-proof underwear. Solo travel really isn’t that bad!!

#firstworldproblems - Buses in South America are A Mystery to Me
Buses in South America are A Mystery to Me

Concrete information on bus routes and/or timetables.  Or lack of.  I have tried to figure out the local bus routes in several cities now and there seems to be no written record anywhere of which bus goes to which location and when. Locals just know, and travellers just have to hope for the best and cross fingers that the person they ask for help isn’t pulling a point 8 below.

People making stuff up. If you don’t know how to get to the Bus Station its ok to say so, you don’t have to make it up and send me off in the wrong direction. I do wonder if they do it on purpose sometimes for a cruel joke (like I’m sure some Brits do to unsuspecting tourists). “Oh yes it’s easy; just follow this street then turn left, then right, then left again, spin round 5 times, touch your toes, and the station will magically appear in front of you.”

Inconsiderate room-mates. I feel a whole blog post on this topic coming on, but general advice is: if you’re sharing a room with a bunch of people you don’t know, don’t be an arsehole. Turn the light off when other people are sleeping (unless it’s the afternoon when that’s their problem), don’t shout to your mates next door at 4am, and turn off your fecking alarm clock.

Gringo Tax. That magical extra fee that is added to everything when people realise you’re not local. I don’t mind paying a bit more for taxis, fruit and veg, whatever, but when I know you’re trying to charge me double or triple the real price just for being from out of town, then that gets on my tits.

The ‘Know It All’ traveller.  We have all met them, that person who spent 6 months with Tibetan monks, a year volunteering in a turtle rehabilitation centre, climbed Mount Everest twice and discovered a new tribe in the Amazon.  I love meeting new people and sharing stories but sometimes you get that guy (or girl) who has been everywhere, and instead of being interesting just sounds like he’s showing off.

#firstworldproblems missing my family is actually a real problem
My Family, taken a few years ago – kept as my screensaver

The hardest thing I have found about travelling, is being far from my friends and family.  I miss having girlie wine & dvd nights with my besties, a hug from my mum when I feel sick, and the comfort of knowing I’m safe and among people I trust.  I have a picture of my family on my computer screensaver as a little reminder of home.  Missing the people I love is not a first world problem, it is a real problem, and is harder on some days than others.  But it is brought on by my own choices.  So I take a deep breath, wipe away my tears and get back out there.  Because no one said travelling is easy!

Have I missed any #FirstWorldProblems on the list? Am I being a Moaning Minnie or can you relate to some of these? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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14 thoughts on “Backpacker #FirstWorldProblems

  1. Pingback: 10 Essential Items for your Backpack - Tales of a Backpacker

  2. Pingback: Five Foolish Mistakes to Avoid While Travelling - Tales of a Backpacker

  3. The Little Blonde Backpacker says:

    I thought taking perfume away with me was a silly idea as it was just a luxury, after your point about smelly clothes – i think i’ll invest in a decent but small bottle to pack! smelly clothes, ewww!

    great blogpost, and as for the point about learning the language – very true! everyone should at least try to learn some…

    Love, May x

  4. travelhundelena says:

    Yep. Feel you on these. I also had one when I was in Thailand where locals would ask me if I was a boy or a girl. Short hair is apparently very confusing there. Oy!

  5. lynnstrough says:

    Great article & so true! No one can appreciate it more than a fellow traveler who’s been through it. If I mention any of these things to peeps back home, they just grumble that you’re whining, after all, you’re traveling and they see themselves as stuck at home. The one thing I have found to be also true, is that it’s not just people warning you about those OTHER dangerous countries, whenever I meet Brazilians here in SE Asia, they warn me about their OWN country as being dangerous. Not sure what to think when people dis their homelands, but then I’m not exactly the best ambassador for the States (there are reasons I’m not in a hurry to go back).

    • Claire Sturzaker says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one to feel like this sometimes! And you’re right, people do also warn against their own countries – I do try and big up England but its hard when I don’t want to go back – I usually say it is beautiful (when its not raining)! 🙂 Happy travels x

  6. wanderwildandfreenicki says:

    I always get the “You’re traveling alone?” Even here in the States. I had one guy automatically I lived a life like Cheryl Strayed and started asking me about female infidelity and using heroin. Very strange! And the Gringo tax. I love calling them on it. “Porque soy americana.” Safe travels!

    • Claire Sturzaker says:

      Haha oh yes, all female solo travellers use heroin of course. I nearly got stung again by gringo tax today, I asked how much a belt was at the market in Sao Paulo & was told 20 reaies; at the next stall it was only 10 so I bought the cheaper one – serves them right for doubling the price! 🙂

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