A Little Humor… The Life of a Backpacker, Days of the Week Style

Last updated on December 3, 2022

Long term travel sounds so glamorous—you tell someone you travel most months out of the year and no matter what you follow it up with, they’re picturing vibey ancient temples, blindingly-white sunny beaches,  turquoise-blue tropical waters, and an endless cocktail party with friends from all over the world.

And those idealized travel images? I’m not going to lie: They’re true. Wading in the pure white sands of the Whitsunday Islands transitions in my memories into a sunset bike ride through Angkor Wat and then the beers shared with the lasting friends I’ve met along my travels.

But those are just snapshots of travel. What about the other days?

The Life of a Backpacker—According to the Days of the Week

Monday (AKA Deprivation Day)

Napping on the Bus
Enjoying the rare joy of having two bus seats and a chance to lay down flat… ish.

The rest of the world starts their work week, but you’re a backpacker so you’ve just switched towns in some remote area of the world. The “restful” 12 hour overnight bus ride to get left you twitchy, tired, hungry, and bleary-eyed as you schlep your backpack (yet again endlessly grateful you’re light packer) from the bus-stop to your next guesthouse.

Food and sleep are tops on the list—and perhaps a nightcap with new friends you met on the bus—before you drop onto the thin mattress by 8pm and check out of the world for ten hours straight.

Tuesday (AKA Sightseeing Day)

Angkor Wat Cambodia
A cycle ride to the Angkor Wat temple grounds early enough in the day to snag a photo without hoards of tourists in the background.

Ten hours of sleep puts a pep into your step on Sightseeing Day and you wake at the ungodly hour of 6am—perfect to get an early start on those nearby temples while the light is still ideal for photographs and the oversized tour buses haven’t yet vomited out mobbed masses following a waving flag and clogging up the pathways through the ancient temples.

Your itinerary takes you through the “must-sees,” UNESCO sites, and anything else your parents would lambast you for missing on your next video chat. Tourist-centric food stalls keep your hunger at bay on this Sightseeing Day, and you snag some postcards for your niece/nephew/brother/sister/mom/dad/grandma/favorite aunt/aunt’s dog.

Wednesday (AKA De-Smellifying Day)

The previous day of sweating at the tourist attractions all day long used up the last ounce of “clean” you pretended your clothes had before you set out—now they’re truly stinky. Laundry day dawns and you strip out of your PJs and scrounge through your bag for the cleanest and least useful of your travel clothes. Donning those purple leggings and workout shirt, you then pinch your nose and tip your backpack into a bag and cart it off to the nearby laundress.

The Gang

Not daring to venture far in such a bizarre outfit, you log some computer time catching up with friends and family, watching your favorite Netflix show, and eating some comfort food.

Thursday (AKA Friends Day)

The day before at the temple, you bonded with several other hostel-goers and backpackers (they didn’t even bat an eyelash at your crazy Laundry Day outfit). Today you all venture together on an outing to some nearby cave/beach/waterfall. Friends Day is about having fun and sharing a day doing whatever the collective group of backpackers decides.

By the end of the day, you’re eager to prolong the hanging-out and hunt down a nearby “hotspot” of entertainment—a pub, bar, club, dancing, bowling—for drinks and conversation.

Friday (AKA Eating Day)

You’ve already found all of the great eats near your guesthouse, so today is about exploring a local market and finding regional treats proffered by the smiling locals standing behind the dozens of street-food carts and market stalls. In the life of a backpacker, not every day is photo worthy. But Eating Day is also a great photography day—your camera is charged and ready for a day of meandering and exploring wherever the meandering streets take you.

A tasty dish I enjoyed at a local warung near my guesthouse in Bali.

Saturday (AKA Business Day)

Those postcards you bought earlier in the week aren’t going to write themselves. Your camera’s memory card is full three times over and photos are still unsorted. Blog posts need to be queued, social media feeds maintained. You’re leaving town the next day and transportation needs to be planned and booked.

Though you’ve been working a couple of hours each day this week, it’s time to buckle down and plough through work. Besides outings for tasty foodie treats, you’re holed up answering emails, WhatsApping, and writing until your fingers cramp.

Overnighter into Laos

Sunday (AKA Transportation Day)

You spend the morning hitting all of your now favorite local eating spots between repacking your trusty backpack, checking out of the guesthouse, and executing any other leftover tasks from Business Day. By late afternoon you’re happily skipping down the street toward the bus station for an overnight bus ride. You’ve packed some fruit and treats for the ride, an extra sweater in case the bus blasts the AC. Your iPhone is charged, your book was swapped out for a fresh one on Business Day, and you’re ready for that 12-hour over-nighter.

And there you have it: A grossly simplified look at a week in the life of a long-term backpacker. :)

16 thoughts on “A Little Humor… The Life of a Backpacker, Days of the Week Style”

  1. This seriously should be gospel for everyone! Really helpful when dealing with feeling guilty for having days to just get practical stuff done and decompress so thank you!

  2. Sounds like a fun week! ;) My longest trip so far was six weeks of cycling/camping… that was fun (and smelly and exhausting)

    • Six weeks of cycling and camping is huge! I’ve never even remotely
      camped/trekked for that long (my trekking and camping tops out at about two
      weeks) – that’s a whole different brand of smelly! ;-)

  3. HaHa! thanks for an inside look at the realities of long term travel. Apparent acceptance of laundry outfit days that involve purple leggings put me over on the still want to do it side.

  4. Love this! It’s so true! The best part about long-term travel is that you can take days to write postcards and blogs and log some time online without feeling guilty about missing valuable time to sightsee.

    • When I first set out I did feel guilty about “business days”, but now I know
      that sheer exhaustion comes from trying to move to fast and never take days
      to just sit and take care of business/relax! :)

    • Agreed! They are so exhausting – it’s the main reason I travel slowly now,
      in the beginning I tried to move really fast but couldn’t handle all of that
      movement without some good rest :)


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