Video: The Disturbing Truth About Life As A Backpacker

Derek South Africa, Videos 76 Comments

This short video below is my attempt to show you the reality of life as a backpacker or a long-term traveler. However, please be warned. If you’ve been thinking about long-term travel yourself, you may be disturbed by what you see. To put it simply, life as a nomad is not as easy as one may think.

Now that you’ve watched the short video, please allow me to state that, in reality, I am of course very appreciative of the opportunities I’ve had to travel over the years, and especially for my recent trip to South Africa.

And hopefully you can understand that the only thing I did to reach this point of constant travel was to pack up my stuff and fly to Bangkok back in 1999 with a small amount of money in my pocket. That’s why I always encourage anyone interested in life as a backpacker to simply do whatever it takes to find a way to get started. Once you get out on the road, you never know where the path will lead and one day you just may find yourself on an unbelievable trip to South Africa as well.

I also want to mention again that the above video was shot in my beautiful room at The Marine Hermanus in the coastal town of Hermanus, South Africa, where Hamish and his wonderful team showered our small group with such unforgettable hospitality. Our stay here was simply perfect, and I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to recommend this establishment to anyone interested in treating themselves during their visit to South Africa.

Also, for anyone who has never eaten the dessert known as Cape Malva Pudding, please do so at the restaurant inside of The Marine if you’re ever in the area. Really, just eat it. And the next time I see you, I’ll gladly accept your hug of appreciation for the recommendation!

Finally, I’d like to point out that the video itself was shot by Matt from and I owe him a huge thank you for filming my nonsense!

Any thoughts about life as a backpacker? Anyone eaten Malva Pudding before? Any comments about the video (as I’m thinking of adding more to the site)?

*My trip to South Africa was organized by the South African Tourism Board, however, all of my posts are my own words and opinions based upon my own personal experiences. My posts are in no way influenced by any person and/or organization.


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Comments 76

  1. Pingback: Side Splittingly Sick: The FUNNIEST Travel Writing of 2012 | - Blog

  2. Earl…HA HA….loved the video. Your sense of humor in your posts often has me laughing out loud, quite to the dismay of my co-workers who are wondering what the hell I am doing in my office that would at all be considered funny. I agree with the other posts….you need to add more videos. Your a star 🙂 I am sure you and Matt were living it up. Happy Trails.

    1. Hey Craig – Hopefully the laughing doesn’t get you in trouble! And there shall be more videos to come soon. I’m looking forward to adding a regular video series on here…

  3. Its so funny, I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now but of course in my mind you have a kiwi (New Zealand) accent (even although I know you are American)! I wonder if I will read your posts differently now 😛 Looks like an amazing place to stay though, I hope 2012 is treating you well so far!

    1. Hey Renata – Haha…that’s quite amusing 🙂 That’s actually why I want to start doing more videos because hopefully it will make me a little more ‘real’. But if it helps, often times when I’m traveling, people do mistake me for a Kiwi or Australian. My accent tends to change all the time!

  4. Hilarious! Great Video Earl! A hard life indeed. I’ve been giggling away for ages. It sums up perfectly what my family seem to think I get up to in India!
    Wishing you all the best.

    1. Hey Fiona – Thanks for watching! If only that was the true backpacker lifestyle, although, I personally love the life of a backpacker and don’t think I could handle luxury travel for too long 🙂

  5. Hey Earl,

    a friend of mine visited an affordable high-end four star hotel in an extraordinaire setting a couple of weeks ago. If you think your hotel room is mundaine then you should check out the “Yanggakdo” Hotel (a quick google search will help you to find out where it is, I don’t want to spoil the surprise 😀 ). If you are interested to top your rough life 😀 then let me know and I will send you contact info to book a tour to that country.

    Enjoy South Africa!
    Greetings from Germany,


    PS: The Yanggakdo hotel is definitely on my to do list for this coming year.

    1. Hey Tim – Haha…that would certainly be quite a unique experience! Not sure they have bathrobes though 🙂

      But actually, a visit to that country is on my list of potential destinations for 2012 as well. So let me know when you plan to go and I just might see you over there, perhaps for a round of golf. I’m not a golfer, but I’d play that course!

  6. lol…too funny Earl. Hey, I agree with some of the others….Short videos on the real rooms you stay in, the local streets, the local people, etc. would go a very long way in fully showing the lifestyle. Perhaps even more so than words can describe. I hope you decide to put up more real world video’s in the future. Keep up the great work you do. [email protected]

    1. @TravelingFirefighter – That’s great to know and I do plan to add more real world videos to the site in the coming month or so. I’m excited about it actually so I’m happy that others are interested in watching them!

    1. Hey Mike – Well, I spent most of my time in that room in tears myself, not wanting to go outside and face another challenging day. Oh wait, sorry, I just didn’t want to get out of the bath tub because of the beautiful view. Wrong trip!

  7. Cool room, although at $1000 a night a tad more than the regular backpacking place! I remember when walking The Camino, booking in the Parador Leon for a couple of nights and using the room jacuzzi as a washing machine for my walking clothes 🙂

    1. Hey Geoff – That’s too funny! I love how us budget travelers often stay true to form even when we don’t have to. Hopefully you spent some time in the jacuzzi yourself!

      1. I’m quite liking the Dearl – it’s just perfect 🙂 I think I’ll adopt it! Looks like you’re having a tough time… Hope you get to rest over the holidays after all that stressful travelling. Take care, Dearl!

    1. Hey Gerard – Ha, the yellow wallpaper was interesting but by the end of my stay, I came to enjoy it. Something about the color yellow apparently puts smiles on people’s faces.

  8. Earl 🙂 Awesome video. Talk about living it up. And all in one take too!

    But on a serious note, you should consider writing a book on how to live as a permanent nomad, kinda like one of those “for dummies” books. I think it would sell out because everybody dreams of living the life you lead but I guess that it’s fear and ignorance that stops most people.

    1. Hey Matthew – Such a book is actually in the works and I’ll be dedicating a lot of time over the next two months to working on it 🙂

      1. That’s awesome news to hear. Please keep us all posted on how it goes. I’d love to be one of the first to get my hands on a copy 🙂

  9. hahahaa I love it!!

    I always wonder if these hotel videos have some secret agenda (saw something similar on another site but not nearly as creative!!) but I really don’t care one way or the other because this is hilarious… and original!

    In all seriousness though, now that I’ve been bunkered in the third world life of Manila for 6 months and being more of an ex-pat than traveler, I’m starting to think that my travel ‘style’ isn’t well suited for the permanent nomad life. I always wonder this because I’m still not sure where I lie in the spectrum of ‘settling down’ and travel but I do think that ultimately, I’d rather have a home base (or several home bases… around the world 😛 ) that I can call my own paradise… And then travel several times a year! 😀 That sounds like the best ideal I want to achieve.

    1. Hey Janet – I think it’s important to figure out what type of travel works best for you and if having a home base sounds ideal, then that’s exactly what you should do. And of course, no decision is permanent so you can always change your mind depending on how you feel. To have your own paradise does sound quite appealing though 🙂

  10. Haha! Love it 🙂 Keep the videos coming. While it’s not nomadic, I have found the courage to take a 2 year job on a small island with new cultures! It just may be the jumping point for more travel, though!!!

    1. Hey Kate – Well, that sounds pretty unreal to me! 2 years on a small island is going to be quite a unique experience and you don’t need to be bouncing around from country to country in order to benefit from travel 🙂

  11. Well done on the video — even though some of the hardships of travel can be tough in the moment, they are easily offset by the awesome moments, natural surroundings, food, and in your case, the accommodations (hilarious juxtaposition btw!)

  12. you should definitely be doing more videos man! This was original, funny and showed us a face and voice of the person behind the blog (which I think many readers would like to see more of). Very creative man, bravo! 🙂

    1. Hey Travis – Yeah, that book will put some ideas in your head. Believe me though, life as a traveler is not always like this…almost never is more like it!

      1. This is true – unless you make 10k a day like Tim Ferriss, things can get a little tricky. Although, I do find that this is when things get most interesting. I’ve had some tight times and, while it’s not easy, it sure gives you perspective on what the necessities are!

    1. Hey Michael – I don’t know, remember, as a nomad, you won’t know what quality of bathrobe will be waiting for you at the next hotel!

    1. Hey Mike – That was a very difficult place to leave, such an amazing room and I could have looked out the window at the view for weeks straight without getting bored.

    1. Hey Jeff – Indeed you are correct. This was quite high end, although still very reasonable for the remarkable experience that one gets there.

  13. Guess what…
    For the last 10 years i dream, think and plan to be a nomad. Now the time has come to start. 1st of January 2012 i am starting my own be-a-nomad travel. Yesterday i bought my ticket. After that my feelings changed. They all mixed together. Fear & Happiness, sad&smile, joy & sorrow. All together they dance in my head.
    Now i read your post, watched your video carefully. But Earl, you made my day. Now all negatives erased 🙂 Yes, it’s true that is not for everybody. But should definitely for somebody 🙂
    Thank you for showing us the dark side of the nomad. LOL 😀

    1. @NomadLizard – Congrats on being about to start your nomadic travels!! I’m very familiar with all of those feelings mixing together and it will continue to do so until your plane lands in your first destination. From there, just allow the experiences to take over, keep an open mind and enjoy the journey. And you’re right, the lifestyle does suit a great deal of people and if you’re one of those, you owe it to yourself to give it a shot, which you’re doing!

  14. Glad to see you had some underwear on there at the end. Was a little unsure of the peep sure when you hopped onto your bed! haha

    On a more serious note, it looks like you’re having a pretty rough time. 😉 Keep up!!

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