My fear of backpacking

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backpacking, travel, teenagers
That’s me with braided hair on some backpacking adventure in the 1990s. I wouldn’t trust my daughters with a man looking this.

I have a fear about my children’s future. It’s a perfectly rational fear based on personal experience. Essentially I am worried my kids will want to go backpacking one day.

I wasn’t too bothered about this until I saw a video on the BBC website a while ago. It was of an Australian backpacker who did a bungee jump in Zambia.

As luck would have it the rope snapped, sending her head first into the crocodile infested waters of the Zambezi river below. Luckily she only received minor injuries but the footage really is quite something to watch.

The thought of my children hitting their teenaged years and wanting to undertake such endeavours themselves just makes my blood run cold. I want them to go out and experience the world and to travel. After all, it’s something I did when I was younger.

This, of course, is the problem. I don’t want my kids to experience some of the things I have done, or to get involved with some of the stuff I saw other backpackers doing.

At risk of sounding like a travel bore, I have vivid memories of travelling down a river in a small thin, canoe in the dead of night in the Bolivian jungle. Water was lapping at the gunnels and behind me I could see the most amazing lightning storm over the Amazon rainforest way off to the east in Brazil.

A local guide was sat in the front. He just happened to mention in passing that the river was full of crocodiles.

I wasn’t hugely impressed by this admission. Agreed, I lived to tell the tale but I certainly don’t want my kids sailing off down crocodile infested rivers in a canoe that could be easily overturned.

The other experience that springs to mind leaves me feeling very guilty. I was merely 19 years of age and backpacking through a part of the world that isn’t generally considered very stable.

There was a massive terrorist attack in one of this nation’s biggest cities. I’m not going to identify it, suffice it to say it was so brutal it has made history.

These were the days before the internet and instant, digital communications. I received a handwritten letter from my mother a few days later. She had gone to the trouble of making enquiries and found out that I could fly back to the UK for as little as £69 if I hopped over the border into the neighbouring country (a relatively easy journey).

The tone of the letter was incredibly diplomatic. She wasn’t asking me to come home, but “if I was considering” returning then it could be done very easily.

I scoffed at the suggestion. I was an arrogant 19 year old and thought I was invincible. It was at least another month or so before I returned home.

Now I’m a parent, I can see exactly where my mother was coming from. I know what her character is like. She must have been in turmoil when writing that letter. As I’ve already said, these were the days before the internet. Researching flight times would have taken time and probably cost money on phone calls.

It will be a good few years before my kids pester me for money to go backpacking. I suspect it’s inevitable that they’ll want to undertake some kind of overseas travel and I’d probably be a bit disappointed if they didn’t. I just hope they go somewhere stable and safe. Oh, and ideally take me with them.

22 thoughts on “My fear of backpacking”

  1. Awesome photo John. Still got the dreads in an envelope somewhere? Lol

    If you’re still working from home by the time the kids go back packing, maybe you could accompany them and be their guide?

  2. When the time comes let your daughters go and discover the world, John. Offer them advice, but on no account try to accompany them. The benefits they will gain will far outweigh the risks, as you yourself have found.
    It’s not always the obvious places which give rise to the greatest risks. I’ve travelled in most parts of the world, but the place where I most nearly came to harm was Glasgow Airport, which a friend and I were travelling through when it was subject to a terrorist attack in 2007. Even sitting at home involves some risk, so I think the best advice is – be sensible but don’t miss the chance to see what this wonderful world of ours has to offer.

    1. Oh David, I was joking. I’m not really expecting my kids to go backpacking with me! It’s the absolute idiots you meet while backpacking that concern me. Just frightens me the thought of my offspring dealing with some of the people I’ve met overseas. Although yopu’re quite right, danger often lurks much closer to home.

  3. When you said backpacking I suddenly have this movie in my head and I cringe. The beach. Have you seen that? Nasty. I dont know if I will say yes or no to my son but I am really worried now if he will ask permission. Goodness its so hard to be a parent =P


  4. I’ve already decided I’m tagging along whether he likes it or not! I genuinely hope my Son grows up to have common sense so I don’t need to worry. #MMWBH

  5. Great photos. I understand your fears, I will be exactly the same when I get older. Ill be saying yes you can backpack to Cornwall I’ll follow behind the bus in my car lol.

  6. I loved my backpacking years but thinking back, some of it does make me shudder! Of course I want my children to have the same fun as I did but I’ll wrap them in cotton wool first 🙂 #MMWBH

    1. I agree entirely. I knew a group of people who thought it was fun to hide in a mountain while some local miners blasted the rock looking for silver. That’s the kinda thing I want my daughters kept away from!

  7. I absolutely get this. My hubs and I have talked about this quite a lot, we both did a lot of travelling and did and saw some amazing and some very stupid stuff. Like you I want my children to see the world as I think it does one good, but also I will be making sure I am hiding in that backpack!!

  8. Tom @Ideas4Dads (and Mums Too!)

    This one will be firmly filed in the ‘stick my head in the sand’ category in the hope of developing ‘character’!!
    Ps loving the striped trousers 😉

  9. I can so relate to this having been there and done that many times myself. The ridiculously stupid things I’ve done and lived to tell the tale make me shudder to think that my kids might/will do the same. But then if they don’t want to go off travelling I’ll feel disappointed for sure. Parentingis such a hard act to balance.

  10. Pingback: I can't stop worrying - Dad Blog UK

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