I’m back in DC, slowly adjusting to the freezing weather and extreme time difference. But it’s not all bad, I’ve been able to hang out with friends, play with my cat, and sleep in an actual bed.
More than anything August seems worlds away. I’ve jammed so much into the past four and a half months that I find myself struggling to remember details from a week or two ago, let alone September or October. I’ve been looking back at my pictures from India, and rereading my personal journal from the early days of my trip and am realizing there is so much that I have already forgotten (sometimes for the best, and sometimes just because it’s been replaced with memories of even more amazing things I’ve done since then).
I think that’s the thing about the kind of backpacking I’ve been doing- it’s not necessarily about any one place, but rather about the whole experience of traveling around the world. Many of the places I’ve visited are spectacular in their own right, and I do intend to revisit some of them. However, I’m glad I undertook this trip the way I did. I really can’t think of a better way to have as many different experiences and see so many things in such a short time while finding and expanding your personal limits.
I must admit that I had some doubts before setting off. Four months seemed like a long time to be away from familiar surroundings, and traveling around the world alone felt just a bit daunting. Fortunately it turns out most of those fears were ill-founded, and in the end I found myself extending my time in New Zealand and wishing I had done a full year backpacking. That’s not to say there weren’t tough parts. I found backpacking through India in particular to be very wearing. I never felt like I got so far out of my comfort zone that I couldn’t manage, but it would get to me little by little and there were days when I didn’t want to get out of bed, let alone deal with another day of smog, rickshaws, and sketchy buses. I think starting in India and then moving on to places like Thailand and New Zealand made my trip more enjoyable, although I’m not sure you would want to start in India if you haven’t been there before or haven’t traveled a lot.
One thing that was interesting was how few Americans I encountered while traveling. I ran into tons of European twenty-somethings while traveling, but I can count on one hand people I met from the States. I guess backpacking around the world never really took off in the US like it did in Europe where there is a tradition of Gap Year (a year-long backpacking trip usually after high school or college). However, I would highly recommend such a trip to anyone that is able to embark on one.
And now I’m off to catch up on sleep, and yes, start plotting my next adventure.