Guest Post: A Backpacker Re-Bitten by the Travel Bug

Is there such a thing as an ex-backpacker?

The answer is, of course, yes. For some people a gap year is a box to tick; an itch to scratch. They’re travel dabblers, not addicts, and once they’ve done their three-month stint around South East Asia they hang up their backpack, trim their ‘traveller hair’ and slide back into their real world clothes. They get on with their lives.

And usually they don’t look back.

That’s who I thought was: an ex-backpacker. I’d done my volunteering gap year in Africa. I’d put in some good stints. But now I was a worker, a civilian, a tax-paying member of the Big Society. My guide books were gathering dust on the shelf; my backpack was lying neglected in the wardrobe.

I was ready to settle down and get one with my life.

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Relapse symptoms

I fully expected that the future looked like comfy hotels and guided tours, not budget hostels and overnight buses. I was prepared for that. My travelling days were over. I got married. Settled down. Or so I thought.

But then something happened.

I relapsed.

I am once again plugged into travel and backpacking completely. My days are consumed by travel. I talk about it, hear about it, read about it. Oh, and being a website content producer I, you know, tend to write about it. A lot. I spend my lunch breaks mentally planning trips. I am obsessed.

I blame you, obviously; the travel community. I have spent literally hundreds of hours looking at your photos, reading your messageboard posts and absorbing your adventures through social media. There’s only so much a man can take before he cracks. You can only live vicariously through others for so long.

Or maybe I’m being unfair. Maybe it’s not your fault. Maybe the craving to travel and experience the world is intrinsic. Genetic, even.

Backpacking genes

Perhaps I’m pre-disposed to travel. Maybe some people can never really be ex-backpackers the same way some people can never really be ex-smokers. Even if you haven’t travelled anywhere for ages that desire – that need – to explore and experience new things is always there.

For me, the symptoms of travel-craving are back. A stroll past a travel agent gets my palms sweating. Skimming through a blog about Thailand starts my heart racing. And as for photos of backpackers just hanging out on a beach and having an awesome time? Let’s not go there.

But maybe all this isn’t a bad thing. The travel bug? I’m pretty sure there are worse things to be bitten by. Mosquitoes, for one. No, it’s a good thing. Because travelling really is a positive experience. It broadens your worldview. It takes you out of your comfort zone.

It challenges you to reconsider the way you live your life.

Future plans

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So now I’m looking at how to travel in future. It looks like short gaps, to be honest. But that includes InterRailing. Overlanding. Maybe I could even volunteer overseas.

I’ve actually already booked trips to Copenhagen and Barcelona this year! (If you’ve been there, leave a comment giving me some ideas of what to do.)

So for some, the backpacking itch is scratched in one trip. They’ve done their travelling. Moved on.

But for others, the lure of the backpacker trail returns to take hold of us. It tempts us back into hostels and guide books and the world of budget travel. It’s happened to me.

I have officially fallen off the wagon. Succumbed. Relapsed.

And I’m not looking to get treated.

About the author

Andrew Tipp is a writer, blogger and editor. He’s spent more than a year backpacking and volunteering around the world, and has previously worked as a travel editor for His favourite places are South America and southern Africa.



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