FEARS & CONCERNS I want to travel, but I don’t like the idea of going alone This is the biggest hurdle for many would-be-travelers. The hard reality for many is if we don’t go backpacking alone, we aren’t going backpacking. You have to be lucky to have a travel partner with similar goals, time, and money as yourself. Plus, can you realistically expect to have a travel partner with whom you want to spend almost every hour of every day? Traveling alone will force you to meet other people, and will probably expose you much more to the real experiences of travel. If you feel you must travel with someone, there’s a good chance you will meet another person in similar circumstances as you travel. I have traveled with dozens of backpackers for periods long and short--from a few months to a few weeks, a few days, even a few hours. It’s fun, and you can go off on your own again whenever you must. I don’t think I’m the backpacker type. Most Americans don’t think they’re the backpacker type, but perhaps you aren’t sure what the backpacker type is. We Americans really don’t do much traveling compared to Germans, English, French, Italians, Danes, Australians, etc. We take brief vacations, sign up for tours and cruises, but as a nation we aren’t very adventurous. The reason for this, I believe, is that our country is so gigantic we aren’t much exposed to travel in other lands. Many people in Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Denmark, and Australia--including teachers, architects, engineers, secretaries, mechanics, farmers, and students--consider themselves backpacker types, and travel on their own all over the world. They have an intellectual interest in other cultures, and it is the greatest fun for them to make their own way through. The purpose of this book is to expose more people to the concept of backpacker travel, and to give them a good start on how to do it. Americans especially need to travel more. It would do our national outlook good, and it might do you good. You might be more the backpacker type than you realize.
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage” Ana Nin, USA & France
But there are plenty of pickpockets in London, and backpackers can be just as run-over there as in any developing world city. Indeed I consider myself at a greater risk in left-side-driving Great Britain than proper-side-driving Nicaragua--it’s easy to forget where you are when you’re having so much fun. The other determinant is you. Your risks skyrocket if you don’t wear a seat belt, if you don’t take proper health precautions, or if you walk alone at night in dangerous areas of medieval countries in a miniskirt. If you are sensible, like most backpackers, your risks are reduced wherever you travel. As with everything, you must weigh benefits against risks. I’m afraid I’ll be blown up by an infantile God conceptualizer. Fear is useful for an initial brief period: to expedite movement to safety or to cause a reevaluation. Soon thereafter rationality must come to the fore. Those who would reduce the fullness of life want to engender fear, limit intellectual and physical activity, ultimately roboticize humanity for their own idiotic ends. Nowhere is it preordained that brutality and appalling conservatism will lose. Reasonable people must fight to preserve and enhance freedom for themselves and others. Regarding rationality, intoxicated vehicle operators kill five of my fellow Texans every day of every year, maim many more. In Germany and France fatalities per kilometer of travel are fifty percent higher than in the United States--in developing countries the rate is twenty times more disastrous. With this in mind I’ll make my next backpacking journey with all possible care (using my alert and flexible superpowerful1 brain to daily make scores of mostly right decisions), and for the first time I may even suggest political
meaning to dancing with new friends on Saturday night.
As with everything, you must weigh benefits against risks. Is it safe to travel? The last thing I want is for someone to read this book and then navely get hurt traveling. There are risks to travel, as there are in everything you do. The first determinant of risk is largely geographical. For example, pickpockets are currently a greater plague in Managua than London. Backpackers in Central America, however, are a self-selected group who are overall more worldly than average backpackers in Europe or Australia. They know to keep money in a hidden money belt, and are wary with wallets and packs. These travelers mostly navigate Managua without great incident.
Regarding the terminology at the end of your question, it is shameful how so much human resource is wasted on repression, militancy, dogma, conformity, obedience, and ritual in the name of religion, instead of the obvious one (and only one) thing God would find significant. I clearly foresee, however, a glorious future when everyone will be educated and free to live to their potential. Low budget travelers hasten that day by buying goods and services from poor people and by being beautiful, sincere, individuals.