While I was really out in Africa to prove why travel insurance is so important and to prove that it is difficult to cope without your belongings, there were some odd benefits to it, some which I would never have expected had I not experienced this lifestyle. You can read about the problems I had on this article, but here let’s look at those zany positives about “not backpacking” in The Gambia and Senegal.
It pains me to say that I have never backpacked in Senegal and the Gambia (as I had no luggage), but at least I have travelled there and been a tourist in both countries, loving it. I got up to all sorts of cool things like watching belly dancing, eating fish on the beach, stroking crocodiles and visiting the famous Lac Rose. Here are some odd benefits about travelling with no luggage and how you can cope if an airline loses your bags.
1.I Had Nothing to Carry!: No weight on my shoulders
It was really weird crossing borders and walking through airports not carrying anything. At times I freaked myself out and went insane – where’s my bag? Oh yeah, I don’t have one. Where’s my notepad and pen? In my pocket. Where’s my passport? In my pocket. At the start I viewed this as negative. By the end, I loved it. I was free to walk everywhere with no weight on my shoulders!
My body felt healthy too – without that big bag dragging down my back. Perhaps my moments of peace in Africa have opened up new ideas in my mind.
2.Pretty Blue Eyes: Not staring at screen
It’s no secret that spending your days in front of a computer screen is bad for your eyes. When I realised I had 12 days away from this, I started looking at my eyes, even cleaning them and trying to care more for my skin.
I also was doing more physical things – swimming, playing football, walking and feeling crocodiles. If I had my laptop, I’d have spent a lot more time typing.
3.I Spoke to More People: More Sociable
I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to making new friends. I usually get to a hostel, ask for the Wi-Fi password, then go online and write 58 articles for a travel client before leaving the hostel the next day. I rarely even talk to my dorm mates. But here in Senegal and the Gambia, I had no laptop. So I couldn’t disappear into my laptop.
I started talking to more people, I became sociable again. I made new friends, in the airports, in bars, in hotels and on buses. While I still missed the laptop and the ability to work online and write all day, I saw the side I had missed. The sociable Jonny Blair. The life I had before business backpacking came into my life. It was good. It was a positive.
And of course the highlight was playing football with the kids yet again, a throwback to the day I lobbed the goalkeeper in Afghanistan.
4.Safety and Security: Never needed to Check My Bag
I was travelling with all I had on my person so I had no bags. This meant I felt safer. Nobody could steal anything that wasn’t attached to me. I didn’t have the choice to leave my bag with someone while I went to the toilet. I didn’t have a bag, so I just went to the toilet with everything I had.
The same at the border crossings when getting my passport stamped in and out. No need to check my bags or ask anybody to mind them. It felt odd at first but after 2 days without a backpack, I was used to it!
5.Fastest Check in Ever
I got to Gatwick Airport and realised I could go from the bus stop to my seat on the aeroplane without needing to talk to anyone, apart from the words “thank you” to the passport stamper, the bag searcher and the flight caller. My check in took 30 seconds and I didn’t have to queue.
I went to the machine, typed in my details, scanned my passport and voila! They printed my boarding passes for me and I hadn’t spoken to anyone!
Admittedly though, this negated the social aspect a bit, as it meant I was now speaking to less people while boarding the flight, but hey, it was an all new experience.
And of course there was the fact that I didn’t have any change of clothes so this made me less lazy and more clean. I brushed my teeth more, had more showers each day and washed the same clothes every day and hung them out to dry in the sun!
So it was a crazy challenge, but don’t be a lunatic like me, please! Take the hint from my stories that your baggage actually is important, and so is travel insurance. Don’t go without it on a serious trip, and since I was on tour with Money Supermarket.com, check out their travel insurance options!