I'm a 28 year old neurotic Jew from New York. I graduated college, I have a stable job, and I am quite possibly the most risk-averse person you know. I have moderate anxiety, hypochondriasis, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and within the last three years, I have been to 18 different countries. I’ve been scuba diving, rappelled down waterfalls, swam in claustrophobic pitch-black caves and came face to face with Bengal Tigers. I’ve been on months-long group and solo trips, and I’ve dropped myself into countries whose languages I spoke none of. If you’re wondering how this adds up, I used to as well.
I never - Never - (I repeat, Never ) thought that my life would have taken this turn. Until 23, I fully existed in my comfort zone, and had absolutely no intention of leaving it. But after college, I started wondering what existed outside of my bubble. I did some research, called up a friend of mine, and we began planning our two month trip to Southeast Asia. I’m not being hyperbolic or “Eat, Pray, Love”-y when I say that that trip was life altering for me. Until then, I hadn’t fully grasped the range of ecological and cultural diversity in this world, and how accessible it is to people like me - Neurotic, anxious, risk-averse me.
The long and short of it is this: I want you to know that backpacking isn’t just for those free-spirited, carefree types. You don’t have to be an instagram nomad who just decided to buy a one-way flight and “figure it out.” You can be the type to pack every medication under the sun *just* in case you’re a few hours away from the nearest hospital. You can be the type to grab your wallet a little tighter when out in city streets because one person told you he knows someone who got pickpocketed. And you definitely can be the “maybe this isn’t such a good idea” guy and still find joy- and maybe even therapy - in the challenges of backpacking. I know, because I’ve done it.
What I'd like to do here is share some of my travel stories and explain exactly why the loosely structured trip is the best way to get started for those who teeter on the fence - those who’ve thought about picking up and going somewhere but don’t know how, or are perhaps too fraught with worry about how it would all turn out. If there’s anything I can tell you it’s that regardless of your concerns, I’ve been there, I’ve thought about it, I’ve worried about it, I’ve worried about it some more, and there is a solution.