Sure fire signs you know you’re a backpacker when …

Firstly, what exactly is a backpacker? The highly esteemed Cambridge dictionary cites one as “a person who travels with a backpack”. Thanks for that! J The Oxford … “a person who travels or hikes carrying their belongings in a rucksack”. That’s a little better … I guess. But the clincher comes from ‘the most up-to-date Australian dictionary available’, the Macquarie, which states that a backpacker is “an elderly person occupying a room in an aged care hostel on a respite-care basis”. For real.

So inane definitions aside, it does prove that the word ‘backpacker’ is somewhat difficult to qualify. Obviously the act itself is more than just carrying around a backpack looking like you’re a seasoned globetrotter. Backpacking is the ultimate quest for freedom and a nomadic style of existence that sets adventure-seeking funsters apart from other so called ‘travellers’. So how do you know if you are one?

You know you’re a backpacker when …


  • Your core travelling diet is two-minute noodles with a side of cheap wine. Occasionally, you’ll mix it up with a bowl of pasta. Pasta with chicken. Pasta with tuna. Pasta with canned anything. Variety is the key.


  • On takeout night, you scour the foodie street markets for a cheap slice of pizza, a fistful of satay sticks or anything that’s cheap and carb laden.
  • You’ve mastered the art of being first in line at the hostel’s free brekky and pocket as many condiment packets and bread rolls as you can while you’re there.
  • You swerve the $3 cocktail (what a rip off).
  • You’re not sure what day it is other than it’s Cheap Beer Day at the local pub. And beer is definitely nutritional – it’s in one of the five food groups.


  • Hotel rooms are as foreign to you as the language the locals speak.
  • You haven’t slept in a room by yourself since you were twelve and strangers (the more the merrier) are your favourite type of roomy.
  • Earplugs are a mandatory part of your nightly routine, even if it’s just to drown out your own snoring.
  • Your sleeping bag liner is your BFF.
  • It’s 3am and you’re negotiating your way into a strange bed in a strange town in pitch darkness and it’s not even a challenge.
  • You can sleep anywhere – dropping-covered park benches, bustling airports, jam-packed train stations and quiet little street corners.
  • Your itinerary is planned around freebies you’ve swindled out of friends of friends, long lost cousins and your last hostel manager who is now a valued Facebook friend.
  • You book accommodation online and the deciding factor is whether they have airport pickup and free breakfasts.
  • You have free beds booked (via your new found travel buddies) all over the globe.

Clothing and cleanliness

  • Everything you own fits into a 50cm x 40cm backpack.
  • You’ve worn the same shirt for a week, the same jeans for a fortnight and your socks are now standing up on their own.
  • Your wrists are stacked with global bracelets.
  • You’ve morphed into Mr or Mrs Fuzz. Facial, leg and armpit hair are now running rampant.
  • Forgotten toiletries in the shower are like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
  • Your shower accessory of choice? Your thongs.
  • You classify a great shower as comprising of running water. If it’s hot, it’s an unbelievable bonus.
  • You smell fine. You’ve done the sniff test on every piece of clothing you own.
  • Laundry time means sink time.
  • You have permanent ankle, sunglass and T-shirt tan lines.
  • The highlight of your day is finding toilet paper in the dunnies.
  • The epitome of a fantastic hostel? It’s got Wifi.
  • Air conditioning. What’s that?

Transport and money

  • You’ll walk for hours amid a myriad of baffling one-way streets if it means you’ll save on a taxi fare.
  • You prepare diligently for the day, as you’ll be carrying around your pack for the next eight hours because you’ll be lost in a strange city and can’t afford to pay for Google Maps.
  • Time is of little consequence, so if it takes a 14-hour bus ride or three indirect flights to get to your destination, it’s AOK because you’ve saved some coin.
  • You’re happy to sit on a bus for ten hours to save $50.
  • You’d also rather cross borders on a ten-hour bus ride than a 2-hour flight.
  • XE Currency Converter is your favourite app.
  • You think $3 for a meal is an absolute travesty.
  • Your friends want to disown you when you try and haggle over the cost of your Welcome Home dinner.


  • You can say ‘hello’ in a dozen different languages and ‘cheers’ in way more than that.
  • People with an Aussie accent sound weird.
  • You start a conversation with a fellow traveller with, “Where are you from?”
  • Names aren’t important, destinations are.
  • You can tell the nationality of everyone just by looking at their backpack.
  • You greet your new travelling buddies by their country of origin … “Hey, Kiwi!”


  • Your permanent address? Ummmm … what’s that?
  • On customs forms, you leave the ‘occupation’ section blank.
  • You’ll never be a 9-to-5’er again.
  • The career ladder has been dismantled.
  • You’ve memorised your passport number.
  • You know it’s Monday because it’s Steak Night.
  • Friends back home hate you or at least hate you because of postcard envy.
  • New friends are just a bus stop, airport or karaoke night away.
  • Your Facebook status is continually updating that you have a ‘new friend’.
  • You have more friends on your Facebook page than Justin Bieber. And they’re better looking.

Other stuff

  • You can’t believe you used to watch TV, let alone catchup
  • The words ‘visa run’ are permanently sketched in your memory.
  • You’ve become addicted to souvenirs, even if it’s just an unusual rock you found on a deserted Caribbean beach.
  • Selfies are gold. Selfies with a famous attraction in the background are priceless.
  • You’ve run out of passport pages … again.
  • You hated English at school, but you’ve become a travel blogger.
  • Tourists with over-sized luggage on wheels make you laugh out loud.
  • Travel warnings? Meh.
  • There are no ‘bad times’ when travelling, just challenges.
  • Your future consists of formulating new travel plans, reconnecting with bunk buddies and smashing your now-expanded bucket list.
  • The world map in your head is full of too many unexplored destinations.

And the MOST blatantly obvious, overtly conspicuous sign of a true blue backpacker?

When reading this, you kept saying to yourself …. “OMG, THAT IS SO TRUE”.