Here’s a peek at my recently published article on Pink Pangea.
I’ve never gone backpacking, and I probably never will.
Recently I met up with some friends at a backpacker’s hostel near León, Nicaragua, where I’ve been living for the past seven months. They asked me, “But weren’t you traveling around first before deciding to stay?” No, I decided to come to Nicaragua without ever having traveled here before, because I heard it was beautiful, the people were wonderful, and it had a low cost of living (all true). I was lucky enough to like it, and I never left. I knew I wanted to live abroad, and I had an inkling that the backpacker’s life was not for me, which has since been confirmed by all of my experiences here. Not only do I have a back injury, but getting up and going somewhere new every few days sounds exhausting. I see people carrying their life on their backs on the streets of León, and often they look miserable, which could also simply be a result of the city’s extreme heat. Don’t get me wrong; I’m sure this lifestyle is great for some – it’s just not for me. What is the point of being able to say you’ve seen X amount of countries if you never truly get to know what they are like, who their people are, what their customs are? Seeing the tourist sights and restaurants is just the tip of the iceberg – there is so much to learn from a culture and learn about yourself that requires staying longer than a week, or even a month, and integrating yourself into society to the best of your ability.
Staying means learning from every single meaningful slow travel experience and letting it shape who you are. Staying means not being a ghost when you go somewhere, building relationships, building a community, getting involved and having even the tiniest impact on your surroundings. Staying means growing roots while spreading wings, always learning and adventuring and seeing new places, while still having that familiar, comfortable place to come home to at the end of the day.
Read the rest of my article here: Why I Chose Living Abroad Over Backpacking.