Usually, when I say I am planning a backpacking trip to South East Asia, people look at me like I’m crazy. I have gotten all sorts of questions from “is that even safe?” to “isn’t the ebola there?”. Let me clear a few things up….THERE IS NO EBOLA IN SOUTH EAST ASIA. Okay, now that we’ve covered that, let’s address the other issues
1. Aren’t I a student? When do I have time?: Good question. First, my school has a J-term (January term) that covers the entire month of January. That coupled with the normal winter break, I have about 6 weeks off from December-February. I toyed with the idea about going after I graduate, but there are two problems with that, one, I don’t know what I’ll be doing in May or after that and two, April begins the rainy season and it gets rainy and hot (well hotter) and I don’t want to deal with that.
2. Isn’t it unsafe: Oh contraire. South East Asia, particularly Thailand and Cambodia are predominantly buddhist. Buddhist countries are known to be peaceful and have a bigger respect for women than many other countries. The things that are most dangerous in SEA are scams and pickpockets, which you will find in any tourist hub. The rest of things that people worry about i.e kidnappings and murders happen at an equal rate or even less than other countries frequently travele
3. Who’s going with you: At this point I’m not sure. I have invited a handful of friends to come, and many of them are considering it. Apparently you need a little time to “think about it” when your friend asks if you want to spend 30 days backpacking literally halfway across the world for $2500 (seriously, that’s the estimate for flights and accommodations for 30 days)
4. Would you go by yourself?: Absolutely. I know my parents don’t want to hear this, but I would totally go by myself. As I stated, SEA is extremely safe especially for women compared to other countries. I know this is something I want to do but not everyone has the passion for it. It’s not like asking your friend who really doesn’t like to swim to hangout at the beach all day. To do something like this, you really have to WANT to do it. If I did end up going by myself, I would find fellow backpackers the first day or ideally another solo woman traveler and tag along with them. I have heard backpacking is very social
5. What kind of things do you plan on doing there?: Well since I’ve already been to Thailand, I know the things that I HAVE to do and the things that I can miss. I know I want to spend a lot of time on the beaches of Thailand, particularly Karbi, since I have only visited the islands on the other side and c’mon who doesn’t want to hang out on the beaches of Thailand. I’m also 100% certain I want to visit Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Other than that I plan on just seeing where the wind blows me
6. Do you really plan on backpacking? Like with a backpack?: I was asked this question by someone who works my retail job with me and for good reason. I am very aware that I don’t look like your typical backpacker. I don’t own chacos, I don’t even own a backpack (but that is about to change! Stay tuned). I am really longing to get out of my comfort zone and I want to do this. Last time I was in Thailand I was staying in business hotels and 5 star resorts. I am aware this will be different, but why would I want to do the same thing twice? It was fun but I am ready for something new. So yes, I will be living out of a 40L pack filled with “essentials” for a month
7. Why?: Why not? I fell in love with Thailand when I went on a school trip during my sophomore J-term. I hate Chicago winters, and SEA is tropical all year round. It is home to some of the greatest cultural sites, food and beaches on earth and it is insanely cheap, like really nice hotel room for $20 cheap. You are crazy if at least one of those things doesn’t appeal to you.
So if this wasn’t enough to convince you to do the same thing then great! –But actually January is the peak time, so the less people trying to find hostels the better. I joke, but really, I think more people should consider SEA not only because it is so cheap, but the culture and the people are truly amazing.
A few pictures from my first trip to Thailand:
And a few of where I want to go (curtosey of google images)