There is a super fun part of travelling. A subject so hushed up and silent that its existence becomes a secret. An essential part of the backpacking experience, the secret is shared by everyone with a rucksack the size of their body and the weight of a small wardrobe. By everyone who has tan that is a mixture of sun exposure and dirt, everyone with sand constantly in their shoes, and everyone with an Instagram account that hashtags the shit out of life. They keep this secret out of the public eye, out of their parents and friends knowledge, and they definitely don’t write it on the backs of postcards/in their inevitable travel diary or on their ‘realistic’ travel blogs.
The secret is exposed in amongst your joyous jaunt across the globe, where you discover yourself, dragonfruit and what you reckon is semi-professional photo editing.
There will be a moment when the discovery is made and you realise;
Backpacking has become lackpacking
Where instead of clutching a copy of a well read lonely planet in your tanned, sweaty and slightly naive paw, wandering the local vicinity exploring this new and exciting venture in your travelling expedition with a smile that says ‘I am having the best time’;
-You have three million copies of your CV that no one wants to take from you and a face like a slapped arse.
You my friend, cannot get a job.
You remove the multitude of colourful string ‘bracelets’ tied to your wrist, cover up that Buddha/Ganesh/symbolic tattoo, and replace the tie dye clothing you have covered yourself in for the last few months with something beige, just so you can be told you need two years experience to make a cup of coffee.
Two years experience. To make a cup of coffee.
Nescafe or visiting Starbucks everyday for the last five years before, during and after work just doesn’t cut the mustard in this caffeinated scenario.
You have serious roots, serious rage and a serious Nandos withdrawal.
Every other backpacker makes it seem so easy, popping up on social media telling the world about their free travels because of their secret wealth/probable personal organisation skills that are really an extensive team of people and PA’s/massively good looks without sweat stains/ melted makeup/ and of course they have MAJOR abs, and also their ability to get themselves a job within the first five seconds of walking out of border control, when you’re just about staying up right with your backpack on (permanently in some sort of Hunchback of Notre Dame stance), wearing what could be clothes or pyjamas you don’t actually know, and having not washed your hair for three days because to get to one country you paid for the cheapest flight which had 10 stop overs, and you just need to get somewhere silent before you cry about the fact you have no clean underwear left, have eaten Nasi Goreng every single meal for the last few months and feel like you are physically about to turn into a grain of rice.
This is the lackpacking reality.
(stupid woman standing in the ‘fortune’ fountain and being ignored)
You spend every waking hour on job websites applying for everything you possibly can, qualified for it or not (I can be a welder if I want to be ok!) and if you’re lucky, you’ll actually receive a rejection email instead of just being ignored.
You think about moving to another location and trying your luck there, where you will be in the same scenario but with a different beach to sit on and cry hysterically at the sea.
You think long and hard about whether or not you should pack it in, go home, let your mum look after you again, ask for your old job back and wait for the next episode of Great British Bake off to appear in your not so busy schedule.
You were not suppose to bring your natural British rage with you so you actually miss a packed tube train, queues and torrential rain.
Eventually (you bloody hope) you will receive a job, you will work for a few months and then you will move on.
But you need to be prepared for this:
Prepared for the fact you were not organised enough or sensible enough to not spend all your money in every market you entered, buy every ridiculous thing (who needs spoons made out of shells? Apparently I do) and save for this inevitable blip in the plan.
Prepared to be so demoralised that you want to thrust your head into a brick wall twenty seven times.
Prepared to apply for job roles that you would never have considered when you were fifteen years old and had no sense of anything apart from parks, lies to your parents and bottles of Lambrini.
Prepared to admit that you need help and you have to call Mum and Dad and promise to give them money back when you are a multi millionaire one day (obviously).
Prepared to ignore the beach, the bars and your friends to trawl the streets and pretend you have experience in what is now called ‘Latte Art’ (What.)
You will overcome this, you will travel again and you will have a fantastic, mind blowing, life altering time, where everyone you know will be consumed with jealousy, you will have the most extravagant tan, you will have tattoos you don’t remember getting, you will tie things to the front of your ruck sack because you have no more room for them,you’ll post pictures to Facebook constantly and you will be the most irritating person your friends have the pleasure of knowing, you will sacrifice your mosquito net for more clothes from a market, you will fill your arms up with colourful string, you will sleep in a room of twenty people, you will stay up for four days on the trot for no reason, you will learn some of the local language and pronounce it completely wrong every single time, and you will unashamedly use a selfie stick and look like a twat.
You will explore, interact, and return home a very boastful and annoying person.
As a quote from my delightful and delectable ex travel bud, the great and powerful KS goes ‘I am amazing, why don’t other people see that?’.
They will and they do,
just everyone must be initiated in the lackpacking secret.
That is the rule.
(bloody stupid rule)
Ps. It’s not quite so bad, I am just bitter that I cannot buy clothes.