Travel | What I Learnt As A First Time Backpacker

first time backpacker

They say travelling changes you; but as a first time backpacker, the type of travelling we did may have changed my outlook on things forever.

Being A First-Time Backpacker

You see them all over Instagram. The luxury travel bloggers who spend their days lounging in infinity pools, eating their way through acai bowls and digital nomad’ing their way around the world.

& although that may seem like a dream for many (including me, I ain’t lying!), the way that we travelled as first time backpackers has truly opened up our eyes to approaching life.

We experienced dorm life, living on a budget, being hungry, being exhausted, being drunk, being buzzing, being in love, living in the moment. All whilst seeing the real, raw parts of travelling.

The best part is; we wouldn’t change it for the world.


Travelling around rural parts of Cambodia, I seen things that made my heart both warm and ache. I am so lucky to live in the part of the world where I do. I am so lucky to have a family like mine, friends like mine and to be given the opportunities that I have been.

I’m sure we all know that deep down anyway, but seeing the living conditions and circumstances of those communities made me grateful beyond recognition.

I don’t think I’d be human if it didn’t.

We are so lucky that we have drinkable running water at our fingertips, a warm place to sleep at night where we feel safe and the opportunity to buy fresh clothes instead of what you can on the street.

As well as that, the community aspect of those places are second to none. The locals were seemingly always ‘together’, like actually ‘together’ and being in that moment – always chatting, laughing, cooking, drinking, playing with the children.

There was such a communal feel about those places that it made me realise just how ‘online’ our ‘social’ life is in the Western world.

Can we even really call it social?


Travelling out of a backpack with a rotation of a handful of outfits and underpants really shown just how much stuff I don’t need.

I’m so pleased I did a few huge charity bags before going away when I moved back in with my parents (I’m not ashamed) and there’s no doubt that I’ll be continuing to do so.

Not only because other people need it so much more than me, but because I really don’t need all that stuff!

We now live in a world where for social acceptance you have to have the latest things and follow trends.

Don’t have a latest iPhone? Bye. What do you mean you haven’t got the latest Urban Decay palette? YOU MUST! Don’t even follow me on Instagram if you’re still wearing THAT old thing.

The line between need and want was shown to me whilst in Cambodia.

Don’t get me wrong, if you want it – go get it. Hey, I’m not gonna stop you. But do you really need it? I took a dress away with me travelling that I’ve had for SIX years. SIX!

Why? Because I love it so much and cherish it, why would I replace it with something else?

I also didn’t want to buy loads of new clothes to take on a trip for one sole reason – the ‘gram’. I mean, what’s social media status going to get you that you can’t already find anyway?

You can find happiness and friendships beyond your phone and material possessions.


Speaking of friendships, value them alongside your family, of course. Although I wasn’t travelling solo (oh hey, partner in crime!), I often felt a little bit ‘out of it’.

Out of the circle and out of people’s lives.

Especially with the time difference, work schedules and WiFi issues, it could sometimes make it difficult to catch up with loved ones whilst on the road.

There are plenty of things in life that ‘make or break’ your relationships and I think that travelling is probably one of them.

You don’t hear from people you thought you might and you’re afraid to reach out in case people just don’t want to know anymore. Outta sight and outta mind, and all that.

I’ll admit that I’ve made a few good relationships fall by the waist line and I regret it. I regret no replying to that Instagram story, or dropping them a message when I was thinking of them.

But being home, they are becoming number one.

My family, my friends, my people.

I’m going to spend more time learning more about the ones I love, asking them to tell me stories or continuing to ask questions.

If there’s one thing I loved about travelling, it’s learning. & why can’t I do that at home with close ones?


Unless your that digital nomad I was chatting about earlier (let me be you pls), being a first time backpacker isn’t always glamourous.

It’s early morning wake up calls by roosters. It’s trudging for 30 minutes with a giant load on your back. It’s going to the bathroom in shocking conditions you’re not used to (hello squat drops!). It’s having to eat meat that probably isn’t what it says it is. It’s sharing dorms with annoying loud people.

But although it isn’t glamorous, it’s so fun.

It’s meeting new people who have exciting stories. It’s getting to try new food that you wouldn’t back home. It’s sunrises, and sunsets. It’s not knowing where you’re going next, or what it’s going to be like. It’s climbing mountains. It’s diving in the ocean.

& it’s the best thing I ever decided to do.

Megan. xo