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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

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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 March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

More Resources About Job Interviews

Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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