It is the second most commonly asked question from friends, co-workers and family following "How was your trip? Was it fun?". Backpacking is so great for me because I get exposure to new things at a down-to-earth level, unlike traveling with arranged tours. I got interaction with locals, learn about their lives, their day-to-day personal challenges, and their culture. Seeing how others live their life, and how their culture, attitude, and thoughts are differed from mine keeps me from being content blindly to a life I am comfortable with. It also exposes me to options how I can choose to live my life more fully and happily.
A lot of people I observed are so busy living their life through different life stage that they don't take the time to ask themselves important questions. During different life stage, we will have different needs and wants. What make us happy when we were 16 might not do it when we are 25. At least that's what I found. I found it is awfully important to keep asking yourself questions.
After I finished school and started to work, no one tells you what you need to do anymore. I can do and accomplish anything I want as long as I want it. At first, it felt great to have this sense of freedom and confident. However, I soon found out that I don't know what I want. Some people in their 20s or even 30s never ask themselves what do they want. They set their goals base on what the society or the "Norm" consider successful or the right thing to do. This going with the flow approach to live life is not my thing. I think not asking yourself what you want and spend time to reflect early in your life (well...you should ask your self every now and then as what you are looking will likely change over time) would eventually get you lost your direction. You will eventually search your purpose of living. If your base of doing what ever you are doing is on what the Norm of the society does and is not our of your own need, your fundamental drive is flawed. You do all these to accomplish "your goals" because this is what other people think is the right thing to do may not satisfy your needs that you never take the time to uncover.
Backpacking gives me the space and time to reflect and explore myself. I remove myself from my comfort zone, all the distractions and excuses that hinder me from seeing what's truly important. By being in a unfamiliar environment, you will be more observant; you will notice things that you missed out in your familiar environment; you will see and listen to things you don't have time to be aware of. Truly questions that are important to you and answers from your heart will come to you. That's what I like about backpacking. Everytime, I grew.
The effect of my backpacking trip don't usually come until after I come back home. Sometimes I come home with answers. Other times, I come home with questions. No matter what, backpacking brings me closer to myself. It is a weird statement but there are so much I don't know about myself. it is funny how we can suppress ourselves from talking and we got so used to it that who we think we are are not we who truly are but it is the self that we think we should be.