“Are you sure you can handle long term travel?” This was one of the questions my friend asked me when I told her I had decided to leave my corporate life to travel for a year. She knew I wasn’t a “backpacker.”

Here are some of the things that made me less of a “princess”:

I Slept in Uncomfortable Beds

We spent two days on a cargo ship on the way to the Corn Islands. One extra day than usual because the engine broke down the first night. Our transport was nowhere near a cruise ship. We had make shift bunkbeds alongside other locals and all sorts of supplies on board, including two live pigs. The sea didn’t cooperate either. I was so glad when we made it to the Corn Islands.

During this trip, I’ve slept in pretty uncomfortable sleeping situations including a hammock in San Blas Islands, a freezing 6-person tent in the Sahara Desert and the departure area of Rome’s Ciampino Airport. It was hard to sleep but it made these experiences more memorable.

Related Post: Two Weeks in Panama: Beaches, Cloud Forests and Skyscrapers

Female Travel Story - Backpacking Women - Little Corn Island Nicaragua

Little Corn Island, Nicaragua

I Used the Jungle Toilet

“What happens in the desert stays in the desert.” Camping overnight in the Sahara desert in Morocco was one of the best experiences in our trip. Everything was very basic though.

I don’t have to go to China like Karl Pilkington to complain about certain toilet situations when travelling – sometimes there isn’t even a toilet available when camping or trekking.

Female Travel Story - Backpacking Women - Sahara Desert Morocco

Camel Trek at Sunset in the Sahara Desert

Female Travel Story - Backpacking Women - Ait Ben Haddou Morocco

Ait Ben Haddou, One of the Stops of the Desert Tour in Morocco

I Skipped Some Flights and Took Long Bus Rides

From Santa Marta, we took a 14 hour bus ride to San Gil and another 1 hour bus ride to Barichara. This was the longest time we had travelled overland and the roads were probably the windiest. It was a rough ride but the trip offered the most scenic mountain views and the small colonial town of Barichara was just beautiful. Skipping the flight definitely paid off, so we gave up on the idea of taking flights in Colombia and rode buses everywhere. I get pretty bad motion sickness but I made it through (I took some pills, of course).

Female Travel Story - Backpacking Women - Barichara Colombia

Barichara, Colombia

I Rode the Chicken Bus

There were no more seats on the chicken bus to Managua so Jon and I had to stand face to face with random people for the next few hours. Our misery didn’t stop there. Just as the bus made a stop, vendors hopped on and pushed themselves unto the standing crowd (us). That was a really long ride!

In most of Central America, the chicken bus (an old US school bus turned into a public bus) is the easiest way to go around. The ride isn’t always pleasant (lots of vendors, no AC, you may have to stand) and uncomfortable (seats have no cushions) but it took us where we needed to go.

Related Post: The Charming Towns of Ruta de las Flores in El Salvador

Female Travel Story - Backpacking Women - Chicken Bus El Salvador

A Chicken Bus in El Salvador

I Ate a Lot of Street Food

Let’s try a scorpion! It sounded like a pretty smart idea while Jon, his cousin and I were drinking at Khao San Road. We each had one. It tasted like charcoal.

From the Gyros in Greece to the Tacos in Mexico, I’ve learnt to love street food. Does it matter if we’re not eating in fancy restaurants often? Street food can be good food. It’s cheap and it’s filling. There were some we just tried out of curiosity, like the fat-bottomed ants in Colombia.

Related Post: 10 Must-Try Local Delicacies in Europe

Female Travel Story - Backpacking Women - Fat Bottom Ants Colombia

Fat-bottom Ants in Colombia

Female Travel Story - Backpacking Women - Scorpion Bangkok Thailand

Scorpion in Thailand

I Used Cheaper Bags

I fell in love with the leather bags in Morocco. I bought one when we were in Marrakech and never looked for another bag. It’s not as classy or as expensive as branded bags but it’s unique and perfect for travelling!

Related Post: Magical Marrakech: The Perfect Gateway to Morocco

From $1 socks to $7 shoes, I’ve learnt to dress for a little less. It’s not very practical to carry a branded handbag while backpacking in Latin America anyway. There are also a lot of good finds in the artisan markets around the world, you’ll find these things are a lot more interesting to use during a trip.

Female Travel Story - Backpacking Women - Spain Andalusia

Female Travel Story - Backpacking Women - Granada Spain

I Cut My Own Hair

Is it even? I finally started to think that cutting my own hair was a bad idea. I cut one side shorter than the other and I couldn’t fix it.

Trips to the salon were always a part of my routine when I was working. Now I’m used to cutting my own hair to save money and for convenience (even though I sometimes mess it up!).

Related Post: My Struggles with Backpacking Fashion

Female Travel Story - Backpacking Women - Bogota Colombia

Bogota, Colombia

Female Travel Story - Backpacking Women - Pozo Azules Villa de Leyva Colombia

Pozo Azules, Villa de Leyva, Colombia

I Made Friends with Animals

Goats on Trees! On the way to Essaouira, Morocco   our bus made a quick stop to a unique scene where goats are actually on top of argan trees. It was an awesome sight. I also got the chance to hold a baby goat. It was so cute.

When I was in the Philippines, I was always cautious with stray animals. I often worried about safety. During this trip I got the chance to meet a lot of different animals and even got the chance to come close to some of them.

Read More: Exploring 6 of the Best Medinas in Morocco

Female Travel Story - Backpacking Women - Morocco Goats on Trees

Goats on Trees in Morocco

Female Travel Story - Backpacking Women - Morocco Goat

Baby Goat!

Female Travel Story - Backpacking Women - Amazon Ecuador Parrot

Parrot in the Amazon in Ecuador

I Got Sick a Few Times

No one wants to be sick while travelling. During our visit to Guatape, Colombia I had a bad case of altitude sickness. Although I wasn’t feeling well, I still pushed on to the 750 steps to the top of the rock of Guatape. I was so glad I did it! On the way back on the bus to Medellin, I didn’t feel too good though and we had to push our plans back because of it.

It is no fun to be sick while you’re on your dream trip. I’ve had trouble with motion sickness a few times – windy roads had always been my weakness. After Medellin, I realized, altitude sickness can also be problem.

Read More: 12 Stunning Photos that Will Make You Want to Travel to Colombia

Female Travel Story - Backpacking Women - Guatape Colombia

The Rock of Guatape, Colombia

Female Travel Story - Backpacking Women - Guatape Colombia View

The View at the Top of the Rock of Guatape, Colombia

Nothing is wrong with wanting your trips to be as convenient as possible or wishing that things go according to your plans. But sometimes, you just have to learn to let go and adjust to situations better. I think for women, travel is a little more difficult. The change in lifestyle, especially for backpacking travel is greater.

Jon calls me a “princess” when I complain about certain things. In the ten months that we travelled so far, I realized how much I have grown as a person. I learnt to live a little simpler. I adjusted to situations a lot better. I became less of a princess.

Female Travel Story - Backpacking Women

Jon and I have a few months left to travel. We hope you continue to follow our journey around the world.

How has travel changed you? Let us know. 

About the author

Gia Kristel De Guia

Gia, who currently lives in New Zealand, grew up in Manila, lived in Singapore for three years and travelled the world for nearly 2 years. From watching sunsets to hiking mountains, she loves the outdoors. She enjoys living in big cities but takes pleasure staying in quaint, small towns. An aspiring photographer and budding writer, she is the voice behind Mismatched Passports, a travel blog dedicated to the journey around the world with her New Zealander partner, Jon.

11 Comments

  • You got some experiences under your sleeves girl! I salute you though, I personally probably wont be able to sleep just about everywhere but then again why not try one day. Dressing a little bit less and cheaper comes with the experience from travelling I guess, I learnt to find cheaper yet unique alternatives when I travel too. <3

    • Thanks EvanKristine. Latin America completely changed my perspective on what’s difficult. Sometimes there really is no choice. I’m sure you will some day.

      Some fashion lines like H&M, F21 and Cotton On don’t really exist in some parts of the world. So it is easy to go with the alternatives. I do have a decent number of clothes so I never really needed to shop much.

  • This is a great post! 🙂 I totally agree with you. Travelling changed me.. in a good way! If I was scared of spiders, I learnt how to deal with it in Australia. I also had to experiment two weeks without a toilet, digging a hole on greek islands. These stories just made me smile and it remind myself that I am more than able to do whatever I want. Simple life… is just better!

    • Thanks Melissa! Yeah, so many things that you can’t experience when you’re at home. Yes! It defineitely is better to have a simple life. I feel that I have become more appreciative of things because of travelling. Also the way how people’s lives are so different from mine, it made me realize how much I have.

  • I bet Colombia is a paradise. I can attest to that just by seeing your beautiful shots taken in Colombia. And I would agree with that being sick in traveling, it can change your whole itinerary. But I know, all is worth it. Experience is what matters most.

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