Travelling is adapting. Adapting to all those situations you wouldn’t think you’d encounter. And thus I packed my bags preparing for adventure.

I left my make up at home, decided that four pairs of underwear had to be enough and that an extra large first aid kit was absolutely necessary.

I was determined not to make the mistake everybody made – taking too much stuff. So, after eliminating my razor blades (travellers don’t need to shave their legs) and cute shoes (you can’t hike on heels!), I felt like I did an excellent job. The scale on the airport told me the same – 13.6kg. I was proud of myself.

My travel mates giggled when they saw me at the airport. Okay, I might have looked like I was about to climb the Himalayas, but I was still convinced of the practical worth of my zippable army pants and the “there is a metal cord in it so you can’t even steal it by cutting” money belt. After all, I was going to be a hardcore backpacker.

Their casual outfits and fashionable handbags didn’t seem very “backpackerish” to me, but I figured they were typical first timers who hadn’t anticipated all the adventures to come – they would find out.

I hadn’t anticipated that arriving in Sydney would be a major culture shock for me. Not only did the city seem quite sophisticated, but everybody seemed to wear normal clothing.

That evening I met up with some people in the hostel. Travellers – accompanied by torn jeans and unfashionable but practical clothing. I could tell they were experienced travellers. They decided to go out and asked me if I felt like going.

“Sure!” They told me they would quickly change and then we’d meet downstairs. So I did. After changing my simple white t-shirt for a simple black t-shirt and brushing my hair, I went downstairs.

There I met three handsome guys and girls, dressed in the latest fashion, with perfect make-up, looking all cute.

“What happened to the backpacking is nothing like a hotel holiday?” went through my mind. Feeling fairly underdressed I went out that night. There were no looks. No whistling. No drinks offered. Not even by the least attractive guy in the club. Although I had a boyfriend, a little evidence of not being totally unattractive would have been nice.

But things looked up when I flew to Cairns to start my east coast trip. My zippable pants turned out to be the perfect outfit for the flight from cold Sydney to hot Cairns. While fellow backpackers waited for their bags in warm jeans, I unzipped my pants to comfortable shorts.

My foldable washing line was worshipped by my roommates in a Cairns hostel, while the first aid kit helped disinfect the bite of a tropical fish (I’m not kidding) on my Whitsundays trip.

My Swiss Army Knife opened that nice bottle of wine when nobody thought of taking an opener. And there was that night on Fraser Island when I prevented my ass getting bitten off by a dingo by using the “females-can-also-pee-standing-up” paper tubes. Plus, my whole group was endlessly grateful for the shelter, made from my raincoat and tie-wraps, that made it possible to cook in the worst rainfall for years.

So no, I won’t leave my Swiss Army Knife at home, and yes, I will take that whole package of first aid stuff with me. But I did learn from this trip. I do now secretly carry a pair of heels and a very cute little dress – just in case.

After all, travelling is adapting.