Backpack in your own city

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It’s very easy to go back home every night, talk about the weather with the neighbors, turn on the TV, and wait for Friday night dinner at a restaurant with your friends. This dinner where people compare their food experience they’ve had the weekend before while posting instagram pictures of what they are eating. #foodporn #yolo #blessed.

Are these activities really supposed to make life fun ? #fuckthatshit

Last Saturday night at this party, I felt like a child who wants to escape from his classroom to play football with friends, with people around starting conversations by asking me what I was doing in life and if it was well paid.

“Why are grown ups so boring,” would have ask the little prince ? “I want to talk about boa constrictors!”
Me too. I want to talk about baobabs, foxes, flowers, and feel alive like a traveler.

Let’s consider this sensation of aliveness as the opposite of being bored. Here are some tricks I’ve experienced to escape from life’s temptation to be comfortable.

The main idea is to live as a backpacker in your own city.

15 minutes after arriving in Rome last summer, I was on a private rooftop right in front of the Colisseum, one of the 7 wonders of the world I had been wanting to see for years, drinking champagne with a bunch of ambassadors from around the world. I was traveling alone and didn’t know any of them. Long story short, I just met Hao in the bus from the airport. She was working for the American embassy and she asked me to join her.
Why doesn’t this kind of story happen in Lyon whereas it has happened to me hundreds of times abroad ?

I found that it was because my open backpacker’s mind is usually on “plane mode” when I’m not traveling, so I’m not having a lot of opportunities to experience moments and original situations, even in my own city.

How do you turn on this backpacker’s mind ?
By acting like you do when you backpack, no matter where you are…

But what do backpackers do ? #questionoftheday

First : Backpackers say “Hi” to people sitting next to them on the bus.

Thanks to Hao and her invitation on the roof top, she’s now a friend.
That’s also how people get stuck in their social circles and become bored about their routines. They don’t say « Hi » to people next to them on the bus !
Human beings are social creatures and meeting people usually makes us feel good. It stimulates the brain and makes it produce endorphines, the happiness hormone you have in your blood when you run. Scientifically proven my friend!
It might not bring you new friends every time, but it’s not the main point anyway.

Be polite, smile, say “Hi” to strangers and see what happens.

Second : Backpackers don’t give a fuck :

Ok I stole this idea from Mark Manson and his most popular article “The subtle art of not giving a fuck”.  But that’s true, backpackers actually don’t give fucks.

They are free and they just don’t care about what people think of them.
They also have to decide about where to go and what to do quickly.
I’ve been using the “hell yes” rule a lot for that.

Easy : If somebody asks you to do something, if the first answer that comes to your mind is “Hell yes”, do it. If you hesitate, just don’t.

“Quand il y a un doute, il n’y a plus de doute”. This is the French version of the rule.

This decision making trick pushes you to dare to say “no” and to bring quality to things that fill up your free time. Be picky.
Friday night dinner in town ? Humm, i’m not sure. NO.
Frog-fishing sunday afternoon*? Hell yes!
Is that allowed ? I don’t give a fuck.

Third : Backpackers run away from boring people.


You know this guy who is always talking about himself, trying to show you that he knows more than you. Or this other one who is always complaining about his life without doing anything to change it.

Backpackers don’t have the time to deal with these energy eating people. A trip is short. So is your life.
There are plenty of amazing and stimulating people around you, and life’s quality depends a lot on the quality of the connections you have with your friends…

And remember that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.



As a social experiments nerd, I have tested all these ideas during the past 4 weeks. Results are quick. But don’t trust me, try it.

Etienne, backpacker in Lyon..


*No-kill fishing!