I’ve lived outside the US for over 7 years.
Most Thanksgivings, I was fortunate enough to spend time with other expats.
Often, somewhere between carving the turkey and seconds of cranberry sauce, someone would inevitably bring up what they are thankful for. I always enjoy this part of Thanksgiving because it’s cathartic.
But this year, I am backpacking through China and will not have a proper Thanksgiving with all of the literal, and metaphorical, trimmings. So, instead, I decided to write down some of the small things that have made me happy while backpacking.
Most of these things are small; but I believe their sum is bigger than the addition of their parts. So here are 37 things that backpacking has taught me to be grateful for:
- My sense of direction – when it works.
- Acts of kindness from strangers because without them, I would be lost. Literally.
- A good book for those long flights and days of travel.
- Fully charged devices so I don’t run out of juice while taking photos or posting to social media.
- An extra battery pack for when I do run out.
- Being fluent in the international travel language (English). Sorry French, German and Spanish!
- Trains because they are so much more convenient than planes.
- My ability to go multiple days without a shower.
- The ability for those around me to cope with me going multiple days without a shower.
- My ability to eat almost anything. Seriously, I’m like a goat.
- Local markets and all of their rich, exotic and tasty food.
- Remembering Immodium and Pepcid AC for after the local market.
- Leaving cold weather for somewhere warm.
- Remembering chapstick because temperature change is hell on your lips.
- A fast internet connection.
- Being able to see my nephew through Skype.
- Fantasy Football shit talking with friends back home.
- Friends that send you a message saying that they are thankful to have you as a friend.
- Shower flip-flops.
- My ability to sleep for four hours or fourteen.
- Clean sheets (because I have an aversion to other people’s bodily fluids).
- A bathroom all to myself.
- Stocked toilet paper.
- Having grabbed extra napkins at Burger King – because “just in case”.
- My negotiation skills aka me being a cheap bastard.
- When everything goes according to plan.
- When everything doesn’t.
- A song that can change your mood.
- Or a beer.
- Or maybe two.
- The common room at a hostel.
- Being in a dorm-room without someone who snores.
- Remembering earplugs if someone does.
- Socks with anti-stink protection (I just wish more people knew about these).
- A four star hotel after staying in a hostel for 10 days straight.
- But nothing beats sleeping in my own bed when I return home.
- Coming home.
What are you thankful for? Tell me in the comment section below.