I think my mum is not alone in trying to suppress her utter horror that I have set off alone to South America. Of our generation of parents, many have not travelled outside of Western countries, so simply cannot visualise nor comprehend what life is like for their son or daughter travelling in anywhere that’s developing.
So when I was sitting in the hostel lounge last night, chatting with young and old people from various nations, I couldn’t help but smile at the thought of our parents’ and loved ones’ imagined fears. The traveller trail really is a bubble; it’s very rare you come into contact with any real danger, any more than you would at home. My brother instructed me before I left: “Don’t go getting into any sticky situations”. I explained just as I avoid these at home, I don’t intend to change this policy just because I’m in foreign climes, and start pursuing a life with gun-toting drug barons.
Backpackers have got it easy; we can move between hostels that are microcosms of home, our only real contact with local people being workers in the hostels and cafes, those herding us on and off the buses, and tour guides. There’s really not much chance of getting in to any more trouble than maybe getting ripped off a little.
So rest assured, dear loved ones, we will be back – a little worn after successive 20-hour journeys, a little smelly with a lack of hot showers, and probably quite poor, but we’ll have lots of stories to tell you. And we’ll be all the more grateful for that first cup of tea that only you can make taste so good.