Epic Backpacker Fails And Why They Don’t Matter.


Things will go wrong on your gap year at some point, it is just a fact. You will miss a flight, lose something, make an epic gap year fail that at the time will feel catastrophic. But when all is said and done, they rarely matter in the grand scheme of things.

Read any travel blog or check out any social media platform and you will see a smorgasboard of highly curated content, of statuesque models flicking their perfect hair with a backdrop of the perfect Instagram sunset. You will hear tales of infinite fun and adventure that will make world travel sound like one awesome experience after another and make the travellers themselves sound like effortless heroes.

I’m sorry to burst everyone’s bubble but this does create a bit of a false impression.

When Things Go Wrong.

What all this curated content doesn’t show you is the times when things aren’t perfectly staged managed. It doesn’t show you the bed bugs in the hostel you have just arrived in, the soul destroying 12 hour flights crushed under a reclined seat in economy, it doesn’t show you the times where you look – and probably smell – like a sweaty hobo because you’ve been in transit for 36 hours and it certainly doesn’t show you all the time things go wrong on your travels.

Because things will go wrong. I guarantee it.

Don’t get me wrong, travel is genuinely awesome, the good times outweigh the bad every single time and the benefits you get from travelling are infinite. But don’t get sucked into the whole mentality of believing that everything has to be perfect all of the time. It doesn’t.

I get emails and messages on a daily basis from people dreaming of their very first gap year who are so nervous about things going wrong, so worried about what they will do if everything isn’t perfect and stressing about ‘getting it right’.

Well I have news for you. There is no right or wrong when travelling the world. You shouldn’t compare yourself or your journey to anyone else’s, especially if all you are seeing is the highlight reel on Instagram. Your trip is your trip, and it should be completely unique to you alone.

Things will go wrong on your travels, not everything will be perfect all of the time, you will mess up and you will make mistakes. But guess what? It really does not matter!

All Just Part Of The Adventure.

Those mistakes are part of the adventure. They are how you learn and grow as a person, and they are also how you end up with a ton of awesome travel tales!

And remember, all those perfectly posed Instagram photos and those perfectly curated social media posts will have had a ton of epic fails behind them that you can’t see! Every amazing experience and life changing view has been bought and paid for with a ton of back aching overnight bus rides, missed flights, scuffed knees and lost valuables.

I Have Made Some Epic Backpacker Fails In My Time.

Michael Huxley Travel In Dangerous Countries

I’ve been travelling for over 20 years now and I consider myself a relatively experienced traveller, but I have lost count of how many cock ups I have made over the years. I’ve turned up at the wrong airport, gotten lost countless times, lost things, convinced myself I was awesome at any given activity and come away nursing an injury or two, convinced myself the airport floor was a better choice than a comfy bed and regretted it, convinced myself that a second whisky bucket was a good idea and regretted that!

My inner monologue is a constant battle between the half of me screaming ‘do it!’ and the other half slapping me round the back of the head and saying ‘you idiot!’

Even now I still get lost from time to time,I still forget to put suncream on the back of my neck and spend the next three days crying like a five year old, I still make mistakes. I’m not perfect. No one is.

Embrace The Cock Ups!

But despite these epic fails, despite things going wrong from time to time I never let it bother me. I still travel the world and have an awesome time doing it!

So my point is don’t worry about it. Expect things to go wrong, embrace it, and concentrate on the things that go right!

Embrace your mistakes! Laugh at them. Learn From them. But never worry about making them.

Did you enjoy this article? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or on my Facebook or Twitter pages and please feel free to share it with any or all of the social media buttons. If you want to get more great backpacking tips, advice and inspiration, please subscribe to updates via email in the box to your right.

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Michael Huxley is a published author, professional adventurer and founder of the travel website, Bemused Backpacker. He has spent the last twenty years travelling to over 100 countries on almost every continent, slowly building Bemused Backpacker into a successful business after leaving a former career in emergency nursing and travel medicine, and continues to travel the world on numerous adventures every year.

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22 comments on “Epic Backpacker Fails And Why They Don’t Matter.
  1. Angela says:

    I travelled and still am – be in the moment – this is my third year! Put the whole experience together and don’t sweat the small stuff, be prepared to wait, protect yourself, respect the country you travel in and accept their differences. Open your senses, breathe, if you don’t like it you can always go home.

  2. Joe Moravski says:

    I have made so many of my own mistakes when travelling (some embarrassing some dangerous) and agree with you that it is all just part of the learning process and the adventure. Great post.

  3. Jess Flynn says:

    I loved reading this, people can put too much pressure on themselves to have the perfect trip sometimes. I blame instagram!

  4. Breilyn says:

    Its all about taking the bad with the good, brilliant post

  5. Izzy says:

    This is such a great way to look at things instead of getting worked up and worried about things going wrong. Great post

  6. Love this! It’s all about how you look at things!

  7. So true! I’ve made so many mistakes and I’ve just learned to live and laugh about them. They aren’t the end of the world.

  8. Anna Pylzaski says:

    Well said. ๐Ÿ˜Š

  9. Lisa says:

    Amazing! I think you hear so much about the polished glamourous side of travel through Instagram and SM, it can put so much pressure on to live up to that and not make any mistakes!

  10. Kian says:

    Brilliant post and you have an excellent way of looking at things.

  11. Paul Mason says:

    Everyone is all so worried about living the perfect Insta life now . So sad.

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Hi, I'm Michael! I'm a former nurse turned published author and world travelling professional adventurer! I have spent over twenty years travelling over 100 countries and I want to inspire you to do the same! Want to know more about me? Just click here!

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