There's no doubt about it, backpackers may give it the bigg'un about how few items of clothing we need and how we can survive with just a bar of soap instead of all those luxury beauty items - it's true, most of the time when you're on the road you realise you need very little luxury to have the time of your life. But there are times when every single one of us craves a treat, misses some of those home comforts, or just doesn't want to share a room with seven other people! We all get pushed to our limits in order to keep travelling for as long as possible, and often we don't realise how much we have sacrificed in order to extend our trip, to make our money last and to keep going just that little longer. I know I'm guilty of it as much as the next person and can remember several times where I have sacrificed staying somewhere nice for an absolute hole just so I can save those pennies to do an awesome boat trip or yoga retreat. I like to weigh things up and instead of ever turning down an experience, I just see which I would rather have - more often than not, a luxurious night in a big, comfy bed with a hot shower is the first to go. But then there are those times when I just can't stand the thought of staying in another dorm, listening to someone snoring as I lie awake knowing I have to get up in a few hours. Those times when all I crave is space to unpack my bag and some time on my own - we all feel like that sometimes, and it soon becomes all we can think about.
I've noticed in my ten months travelling that there are some things that just stay in my mind, things that I perhaps never fully appreciated until I came away. Particularly recently, because I've just moved into my own place as part of my new job and have all my food provided for me - I'm suddenly living in more luxury than I have for nearly a year. And it's really making me realise how grateful I am for even having the opportunity to go away and experience other cultures, to be both deprived and enriched at the same time as I learn to truly value what I have. So in the spirit of being grateful, and of dreaming of far off luxuries - here's my list of 35 things you really learn to appreciate when you've been backpacking for a while:
- Personal space - whether it's the crowds in Asia or just finding room for your bag in an Aussie hostel.
- A good night's sleep - either you're up all night partying or someone is getting up early to catch a flight.
- Your mum's cooking, or your dad's, just those comforting foods that remind you of home.
- Supermarkets - nothing beats a good supermarket, 7/11s in Asia, IGAs in Oz, they just don't measure up.
- Your own room - being able to shut a door on the world at the end of the day is such an amazing feeling.
- A double bed - oh god after battling dorm life, top bunks and all the rest, starfishing is just heaven!
- Shampoo and conditioner for your hair type - not just half empty bottles you found in the dorm shower.
- Clean kitchenware - in a hostel kitchen shared by 40+ people this can be a rarity.
- Finding all your food in the fridge where you left it, no milk missing, or beers stolen.
- Sitting on an actual sofa and watching TV - the first thing to go when I left, but perfect for hangovers.
- Having wifi all the time, and being able to rely on the connection.
- Having phone signal all the time!
- Having your hair cut, or your bikini line waxed by a woman who can speak English.
- Being able to plug into sockets without using adapters.
- Not pulling out coins from six different countries every time you pay, then having to sift through them.
- A quiet night in - can't believe I'm saying it but sometimes it's all you crave instead of another night out.
- A whole wardrobe of clothes to choose from instead of wearing the same outfit, yet again.
- A really good roast dinner - sorry but I've not found one yet other than back home.
- Christmas in the UK - nothing beats it.
- Showering without wearing flip flops.
- Not being woken up by the sound of someone having sex below you, or above you, or next to you.
- Good chocolate - it just doesn't taste the same overseas, especially in hot countries.
- Not having the scars, scratches and bruises that come with traveller's legs.
- Actually having a night out where you look glossy and groomed instead of sweaty and scruffy.
- Having your washing done for you instead of having to wait for a hostel washing machine to be free.
- Not being eaten alive by mosquitoes, bed bugs, sand flies and whatever else wants to eat us.
- Being up-to-date with every detail of the lives of those you love. Being able to be there for them.
- Being able to talk to your best friend on a whim instead of dealing with such a huge time difference.
- Hot showers. 'Nuff said.
- Simple foods like beans on toast instead of all the spicy curry in Asia.
- More exciting foods instead of living off beans on toast and instant noodles.
- Being able to buy your alcohol from a supermarket pretty much all the time instead of bottle shops.
- Not having sand at the bottom of all your bags and shoes.
- Not having permanent flip flop tan lines.
- Having a car and not having to rely on public transport.
All of these are things we talk about longingly about with other backpackers over long nights by a fire on the beach, over beers by the swimming pool, or when we meet other travellers. But as much as we talk about how amazing it would be to have a nice long, hot shower with luxurious products before getting into a huge double bed in a private room, we also know we wouldn't give up this life for the world. That these bed-bug infested rooms and long nights out are worth every second. That the feeling of sand between your toes and those moments when you catch two people at it in the bunk next to you aren't all part of the experience. That we've never felt freer and happier than we do right now. And that every sunset and sunrise brings new excitement into your life at the prospect of what is to come. Home comforts are great, but nothing beats adventure. If you fancy a little luxury and want to leave the kids at home, why not check out the adult-only holidays available at Tropical Sky?
What at home comforts and luxuries do you miss when you're away from home? Do you like to treat yourself every now and again when backpacking?