My first impression as a backpacker

When I traveled alone to Peru for the first time at the age of 21, I was completely overwhelmed. Everyone gave me tips, but they made me feel more insecure than they helped me. Everyone wanted to scare me about how dangerous Peru was and what I was going to do there for three months.

Before the trip started, I was a bit afraid that I would do something wrong. Today I think that this trip was the best thing I could have done. Detaching myself from everything overnight, for the first time I could really concentrate on myself and do what I wanted, this feeling of freedom and happiness changed my whole life. At that time I didn't know any backpacker, but this changed quickly.

I have a wonderful life in Switzerland and I consider myself lucky to have such a life. But I wanted more, more than just working and paying bills. For me there was much more to see in life than just the "perfect" Switzerland. I wanted to see how the poor people of the world live and what they eat. It was important for me to help on site, but this is more difficult than I imagined.

So in August 2012, I went to Peru with my suitcase to improve my Spanish and volunteer in a project with kids. At that time I packed everything possible, only out of fear I could have too little with me. I quickly realized that this is a complete nonsense and had to exchange my suitcase for a backpack. Because I totally got the travel bug and always wanted to feel like I was freer. The three months were a great start to learn the language, but after Peru I wanted to travel from hostel to hostel to see more.


In my first hostel I was in Chile, at the beginning it was quite unusual to share the room with strangers. But at the latest after the third night I could get used to it. Most people imagine the hostels to be dirty, noisy and crowded, but these are the people who have either never been in a hostel or slept in cheap accommodation 20 years ago. Almost every hostel offers private or double rooms, so surely every backpacker can retreat as well. In 99% of the hostels it is not a problem to get WIFI, this is very convenient to plan your onward journey. Some hostels have a great style and really put some thought into the set up. I love hostels which have graffiti on the walls or have an artistic influence. In every hostel I can tell a funny or embarrassing story, because there is so much life going on there.

Somos Hostel


The bus network in most Central and South American countries is great, clearly no comparison to the European countries, but depending on the route, the buses even run several times a day and this at very low prices. Here the tourists should simply think more and not always compare everything with their home country, because if you travel, you are embarking on a new adventure. So stay calm and laugh about delays.


The beauty of backpacking is waking up in a new place, whether on the bus or in the hostel, every day brings new surprises, some funny, some annoying, in different situations you get to know yourself all over again. When you travel with a travel partner, you get to know each other from a side that was previously unknown.

Travel partners

Here it is very important to know what interests each person represents, here are a few points you should agree on:

  • Sea or mountains
  • Nature or cities
  • Sport or Relaxing
  • Adventure or safety
  • Fast or slow travel
  • How much budget does everyone have available?
  • Prefer to travel by plane, rental car or public buses
  • Party or discovery vacation
  • Luxury or relaxed restaurants & hostels

The perfect travel partner doesn't exist, but it's pretty important to think about who you want to travel with for a while.

With my best friend I was on the road for 4 months during my last trip. So quite long. We've been on vacation together before, so we were sure to have common interests and like the same type of travel. We were a super travel team and could really enjoy our trip.

Unfortunately I had a not so great travel experience with another friend that lasted 6 weeks. I must honestly say that over time the trip became more of a burden than a pleasure. Since we both had respect from traveling alone, we continued our journey. I have to admit that I don't have great memories of this trip, the friction can spoil the trip.

Travel partner at the sea

Culture and language

Everyone can learn a new language and dive deeper into the culture of each country. This requires a little discipline, perseverance and courage. Especially those who travel alone have the chance to meet new people and make new friends. I meet up every year with some people I met in the language schools. The great thing about the schools is that the teachers are locals and they can give you good advice about the city.

Friends and family at home

Since I have been abroad longer, I appreciate my friends and family more. I see things that I took for granted before. I enjoy the time with my loved ones much more since then. I also find my city much nicer since I have seen other cities. I see my "old" life with different eyes since my travels.


I can advise everyone to make a longer trip, it will change your life. The excuses do not count, because everyone lives only once and you should try to get as much out of it as possible. It will be worth it for sure!

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