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15 Reasons Backpackers Rock

15 Reasons Backpackers Rock

Backpackers enjoy adventures into unknown territory, meeting new people and above all gaining a much deeper understanding of the world we live in. This is far superior to the typical tourist who will rarely encounter exciting challenges and never learn new skills. Backpacking is excellent training in back-to-basics living which is often envied by preppers. Here are 15 reasons why backpackers rock.

1. They know how to adapt.

Backpackers have a limited budget. This means they have to camp or sleep in hostels which may mean sharing a dormitory with lots of others. They know how to make the best of far from ideal sleeping accommodation. If they have been around Europe, they can recommend some great hostels.  The knowledge that this means they can travel for longer and much further is what keeps them going.

2. They know the best ways to hitchhike.

Often when on long trails, there may be a need to re-supply with food and other essential items. Once on the road, they have to hitchhike to the nearest town to stock up. They know that they have to freshen up beforehand, smile and locate near a place where it is easy for the driver to pull over.

3. They know exactly how to pack.

They know exactly what they need for a long trek in the wild. They can plan ahead for food needs, clothing in extreme temperatures and navigation gear to help them when they may get lost. They also know what they can do without as they develop more backcountry skills.

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4. They are expert nutritionists.

One of the key elements will be knowing what is the best, lightest and most nutritious food they have to carry as this will lighten the backpack considerably. They dispense with containers as far as possible and use ziplock bags. They don’t normally bother with water content foods such as fruit and prepared soups. They know that opting for freeze-dried or powdered foods which can be mixed with water at the campsite is going to save on weight.

5. They know how to plan a trip.

They know that they will have to estimate travelling time and also take into account some extreme weather conditions and plan accordingly. They know that every time they climb 1000 feet, the temperature is liable to drop by at least 3 degrees. Backpackers are aware of logistic issues such as where to stock up on supplies and what transportation will be essential. They know how to identify a safe campsite and will be aware of dangers posed by animals and poisonous plants.

6. They stay in shape.

Backpackers have to be fit and well. Lots of people think that having strong legs is enough for all that walking. The wise backpacker knows that a strong lower back and core are essential for carrying weight. They regularly work out on a rowing machine or just by cycling. They are also aware of the importance of having a medical check up just to see if there are any underlying health problems such as a heart condition. Not much point in calling 911 in the wilderness!

7. They know when to cross icy rivers.

They have learned that the best time to cross a dodgy river is in the morning. This is because the evening and night temperatures have cooled the water flow to a minimum. Later in the day, under the sun, the rivers tend to grow in volume and are more dangerous to cross.

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8. They know how to start a fire.

They know that in an emergency situation or if they have to keep warm in very cold temperatures, they have to know how to start a fire. I know some backpackers who claim they know at least five ways of starting a fire. They know that they can process firewood, have a ferro rod, a survival knife and some cotton balls soaked in Vaseline.

9. They know about a country’s culture.

Backpackers who do their homework are always well rewarded. They know that it may not be politically correct to give vent to their opinions on the government, monarchy, legal system or drugs laws in public. The savvy backpacker would never insult the royal family in Thailand!

10. They will end up in random places.

Backpackers always have great stories to tell about situations or places where they had never planned to be. They will also have great anecdotes to tell about fascinating people they have met. The normal tourist will never be able to compete, as everything is so tightly organized for them.

11. They are content with very few things.

When they travel on a tight budget with very little weight, they realize how possessions, clothes and money and comfort do not matter at all. What matters is the adventure, the joy of the open road and the lack of a fixed timetable. Knowing this makes them feel content with very little.

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12. They are more open-minded.

The great thing about backpackers is that they have seen so many different cultures and people all over the world that their world view is broad and tolerant. They are rarely bigoted and are also much more relaxed as they have experienced real danger or risky situations.

13. They love the night sky.

Ask any backpacker if they have ever experienced the pleasure of sleeping under a star lit sky. They will be enthusiastic because there are fewer and fewer places to see the night sky without the glare of urban lights, industrialization and pollution. Just think that a city dweller can only see about 500 stars whereas a backpacker in an International Dark Sky Park can see up to 15,000!

14. They are great map readers.

Experienced backpackers will know how to use a compass and read a map. Not many people can do that nowadays. But some backpackers rarely take the trouble to learn, which is foolish. This is essential when they may get lost and this basic skill can save a life!

15. They know how to purify water.

Backpackers always know about how important it is to be able to purify water because this is a rather heavy item to carry! In addition, they also know that 90% of the world’s water is not safe to drink without being purified. The USA backcountry and wilderness are no exception. Wise backpackers will know the ins and outs of chemical, chlorine or iodine treatment.

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Many backpackers are only too keenly aware of the need to protect the environment. That is why they know all about the Leave No Trace rules and etiquette. The next time you meet backpackers, ask them!

Featured photo credit: Backpackers Road/Tim Berger via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on September 16, 2020

3 Simple Signs of a Strong and Healthy Relationship

3 Simple Signs of a Strong and Healthy Relationship

In helping many people solve their relationship woes, I am often asked for the signs of a good relationship.

Well, what’s fascinating about relationships is the dynamics of two individuals coming together and staying together amid an array of perceptions and misperceptions.

Our relationships are not only influenced by our current actions but also by our past relationships and the life experiences that we bring forward into the current relationship. How we deal with misperceptions and misunderstandings determines the strength and health of our relationship and the level of happiness we are able to experience.

Much of the subconscious programming that takes place throughout our life causes us to sabotage our happiness by preventing us from engaging effectively, especially when we become emotionally triggered.

These mostly unconscious “scripts,” which we tend to run on autopilot, include our thoughts, words, and actions that result from these. Some may even refer to them as “baggage.” While we can rewrite these scripts and stop them from contaminating our relationships, we only become aware of them when we are in an emotionally empowered state.

So, what are the signs of a good relationship?

It boils down to these four essential requirements:

  • Emotional empowerment
  • Aligned attraction
  • Sexual functioning
  • You and your partner

While we can take it upon ourselves to develop as an individual, a strong and healthy relationship results from both personal growth and teamwork with our partner in order to resolve any problems.

Let’s take a look at how we can do this.

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1. Emotional Empowerment

A clear sign of a good relationship is that both partners stay focused on what they want to create and how they want to feel. It can be too easy to blame our partner when we’re not feeling good about ourselves or somewhat overwhelmed with the curveballs that life seems to throw at us continually.

You may have heard of the saying, “Making mountains out of molehills.” When we’re not in charge of our emotional state, that’s precisely what we do!

Someone also said, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.” Our words and the emotional power behind them are either being constructive or destructive in our relationships.

By trying to override your emotions and dredging up past situations, you may blow a current situation entirely out of context, keep retriggering yourself and your partner, and prevent essential issues from being resolved. Aside from that, it makes you feel disconnected.

As a reminder, allowing yourself to indulge in petty annoyances and sarcastic comments will likely drive a wedge between you and your partner. So, is that worth your attention?

When we focus on what we don’t want, we continually default to the old subconscious programming cultivated from our life experiences. These “scripts” can become self-destructive when expressed through negative rumination and self-talk or critical observations of our partner, rather than being the fun, uplifting, and naturally motivating partner that they fell in love with.

Many couples start competing against each other when they are emotionally triggered instead of supporting each other to create the best outcome. While we can quickly become obsessed with being right (or not being wrong), it’s essential to stay present, focus on how we want to feel, and align our words and actions toward that outcome.

Couples who enjoy a strong and healthy relationship consciously monitor their emotional states and can therefore influence the impact of their verbal and non-verbal communication in a positive manner. This offers a long-term benefit of enhancing their overall desire to be together and connect on more intimate levels.[1]

2. Attraction in Alignment

Known as the love and bonding hormone, oxytocin doesn’t just play an important role in intimacy. In truth, it’s also vital for increasing trust and attraction between two people. Synthesized in the human brain when you trust someone, the oxytocin molecule also motivates reciprocation.

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We’re living in an age where an individual’s independence is ruling the day, and the social codes of chivalry have become sadly redundant. However, it’s never a good time to become complacent in how we interact with each other and in respecting the environment we share.

According to Paul Zak, a neuroscientist and researcher at Claremont Graduate University, oxytocin is generated in the brain only after some concrete event or action, such as someone making way for you in the street.[2]

“When someone does something nice for you such as holding a door, your brain releases oxytocin, and it down-regulates the appropriate fear you have of interacting with strangers.” — Paul Zak

Suddenly, you feel like the person in front of you is not a threat. Then, according to Zak, this feeling disappears quickly for a good reason,

“If you just had high levels of oxytocin, you would be giving away resources to every stranger on the street. So, this is a quick on/off system.”

This has important implications for those in a relationship. Zak says:

“If you treat me well, in most cases my brain will synthesize oxytocin and this will motivate me to treat you well in return.”

In a relationship, our actions and behaviors are either attracting or repelling our partner. This is especially true when we have conflicting values. Common conflicting values include personal hygiene, health and fitness, and general tidiness.

It’s important to know and respect what’s important to our partner. After all, one of the real signs of a good relationship is having the desire to continually step up and live your “A” game.[3] When our partner takes the time to communicate something important to them, we need to acknowledge that it’s essential to keep a relationship long-term.

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While we like to think that our partner will be attracted to us no matter what, this is not realistic at all. “A” is for attraction, and we need to keep attracting our partner instead of being lazy and pretending we can get away with unappealing or inappropriate behaviors.

Any unresolved issue can build up resentment and undermine the quality of a relationship. However, the thought of approaching a challenging topic can increase stress and anxiety to the point where it is nearly impossible to clearly communicate the problem without it sounding like an accusation or blame.

Due to the fear of retriggering our partner by bringing up the same topic repeatedly, we often delay dealing with the issues that are of utmost importance to us. Over time, it can result in frustration, annoyance, and disconnection. We are sentient beings, so this type of emotional resistance can often be felt by the other person.

Furthermore, we usually communicate a part of a request out loud and then complete the reasoning behind it internally. Unfortunately, our partner doesn’t hear this internal monologue, so they have no idea about the extent or importance of our need. Therefore, many problems aren’t fully discussed, and the main issue remains unresolved.

“Prolonged stress and anxiety are like poison to oxytocin,” Paul Zak said. The underlying biological hypothesis is that stress — particularly the type that does not have a clear ending point — inhibits oxytocin release.

In a healthy relationship, both partners can retain the desire to step up and continue to attract each other through verbal and non-verbal communication. Try remembering the following:

  • Every person has their own preference for how things are done, so effective communication requires actively listening as well as clearly communicating your needs.
  • Before talking about an important matter, make sure you have your partner’s full attention. Then, try to keep your words focused in the here and now.
  • Instead of rehashing a similar experience from your past for context and risking triggering each other emotionally, get to the point and explain what you want at once. If you feel uncomfortable doing that, try starting a request with “I like it when…” or “It makes me feel…” You may also ask, “How can we work together to create a win-win situation?”
  • If something is important enough for your partner to mention out loud, then you must respect, consider, and adhere to it whenever possible. For example, if a partner is brave enough to open up about their need for sexual intimacy to feel more connected, it may be an issue that needs to be addressed in your relationship.

According to psychiatrist and Emory University professor Larry Young, increased intimacy can strengthen your connection as a couple, especially when you combine it with other rewarding experiences that get your brain’s reward system going.[4]

Verbally appreciate your partner’s effort in supporting your needs and make sure to retain your individuality and interests outside the relationship to keep your mutual attraction.

3. Sexual Function

Sex is the one thing that differentiates a strong, healthy relationship from a platonic friendship. Sexual intimacy is one of the most important signs of a good relationship and has often been described as the glue that holds a relationship together.

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Sexual intimacy allows two people who seek the ultimate connection with each other to come together. However, intimacy problems can lead to separation, loneliness, and disconnection — feelings that can eventually tear a relationship apart.

Unfulfilling sex leads to an increase in stress hormones which results in a lowered libido as sexual intimacy becomes a souce of discomfort on all levels. A common cause of a low libido is, for example, sexual function issues such as early ejaculation and erectile dysfunction challenges in men; and orgasmic dysfunction for women.[5] An unwanted sexual technique such as hard and fast or constant changes of position can also be off-putting.

While work stress, children rearing, and communication issues can all lower your libido and affect your overall desire for sex, a sexless marriage or relationship is not favorable for the vast majority of couples long-term.

One of the most important things for women in a relationship is to experience a sense of connection or feel loved and close to their partner. But this is where things can become tricky pretty quickly, considering women naturally have much higher levels of the bonding hormone oxytocin than men. For men, higher levels of oxytocin are generated through intimate connections.

What is the takeaway here, you may ask? Our hormones influence our behaviors, and oxytocin is said to be responsible for allowing us to experience love. In reality, studies have also shown that oxytocin can even work as the brain’s “moral molecule.” The more intimate moments we have, the more our bodies release the said hormone.

This is especially important for a male to feel more connected and attentive toward his partner. Research indicates that a man who is often sexually intimate with his beloved can produce increased levels of oxytocin.[6] In turn, it boosts his desire to hold and connect with his partner and stimulate positive social interaction.

A positive sign of a strong and healthy relationship is both partners’ desire to be intimate with each other. If either of the partners has little or no desire for initiating intimacy, then they need to address the issues mentioned in this article to restore intimacy in order to enjoy a truly fulfilling partnership.

Final Thoughts

The most important sign of being in a strong and healthy relationship is that you feel happy within yourself and in your connections.

While it’s not always possible to stay happy and connected with someone, ensuring that you are emotionally aligned with yourself and aware of your partner’s needs will go a long way to guarantee the health and longevity of your relationship.

After all, compelling narratives also cause oxytocin release and can affect your attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.

More on Maintaining a Healthy Relationship

Featured photo credit: Candice Picard via unsplash.com

Reference

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