When we think of backpackers, we definitely have two very different images in our minds - some of us might have a rather rose-tinted view of sun kissed limbs stretched out on the beach in skimpy bikinis watching on as muscly guys play football on the beach in their shorts. Those who have actually been backpacking will know there are usually big bags under our eyes from late nights, that we're all a bit soft around the edges and around 20lbs heavier than we were before travelling thanks to indulging in too much pizza and beer. It's pretty difficult to keep with any kind of fitness routine, or to maintain healthy eating while backpacking - often the easiest and cheapest options are the least beneficial for your body. (Read my top tips on how to try and stay fit and healthy while travelling here)
Despite the fact that you might not always be at your absolute peak of physical fitness while backpacking, I think it is fair to say that many people feel the most body confident they ever have. Body confidence is something that plagues us all, whether we want to admit it or not. Some of us have it in bucket loads, others barely have enough to keep them going for a two week holiday in the sun. But something I've noticed about backpackers is that despite them coming in all shapes, sizes and colours, they all have this radiant glow of sheer confidence and knowledge of their fabulousness that shines through. When you look at them, you don't notice their love handles, cellulite, beer belly or stretch marks. All I see is the huge smile on their faces, the golden brown glow of their skin and the fun that sparks out of them. Where does it come from? Well it's all down to confidence. But why are they so confident?
- Happiness. These backpackers are the happiest and freest they have ever been and it radiates out of them, as the Roald Dahl quote says, they will always be pretty when happiness shines out of them like sunbeams.
- Most backpackers in Asia and Australia come from somewhere like the UK, Germany or Canada - it's much colder there and there's definitely not as much sunlight. See what effect a heavy dose of vitamin D can have?
- A good tan. It hides a multitude of sins and everyone looks better with bronzed skin. It makes you look slimmer, healthier, plus you don't want to plaster yourself with as much makeup and fake tan which makes you feel more beautiful.
- Less time and effort is spent getting ready because you're so busy and you get lazy, and yet you feel better for it. You rely more on your natural self and become more confident in it as a result. In Asia, makeup on nights out is pointless. It will be sweated off in minutes, so you get pretty used to seeing your face without makeup and even start to prefer yourself without it.
- Knowledge of the world around you, seeing outside your little bubble at home, it makes you an authority and sets you apart from the crowd. Knowing that you've seen something and experienced a world outside your own makes you realise that you are different in the best possible way.
- More space for your personality to shine. When you meet backpackers, particularly in Asia, it is not about how people look or who is beautiful or fit. What's important is who is funny, who has something to say, a story to tell, an opinion worth sharing? It's about conversations by firelight all night long, not about posing in clubs. You become valued for so much more than your looks.
- Fun becomes more important than what you look like when you're having it. You live for the moment and aren't bothered by that roll on your tummy when you're skinny dipping after a tipsy night with friends or snorkelling with sea turtles. Travelling gives you a much better sense of perspective.
- Really getting to know yourself makes you realise how awesome you are and that you really should have this confidence. That no one can make you feel less that incredible without your permission and that's something you just won't give.
- Fearlessness. Seeing how much you've accomplished by yourself and knowing you kick ass, knowing you can take anything that's thrown at you and smash it. Knowing that you have well and truly proven to anyone who ever doubted you quite how capable you are.
- Living in a bikini every damn day. It's the dream, but the thought would scare some chicks. Trust me, there's no better way to feel comfortable in your own skin than to expose the majority of it at the beach every day. Seeing every contour of your body under direct sunlight is definitely a way to really get to know it and to accept it. Plus seeing everyone else's bodies on full display make you realise that nobody is perfect.
This post was originally published on the Base Backpackers blog and won me a free bed for the night in a Base Hostel! Find the original here.
What do you think makes backpackers so beautiful? Do you feel the most confident and happy you've ever been?