Today I’m excited to welcome Hannah Papp to the blog, author of the recently released book, The Mystical Backpacker. As a fellow seeker and traveler, I knew Hannah would be a great fit for this community. Her musings on the transformative power of travel will have you packing your bags in less than five minutes, or at least dreaming and scheming about your perfect mystical backpacking adventure! In today’s post, Hannah answers a few questions I had about mystical backpacking and is giving away a copy of The Mystical Backpacker (the perfect companion for such a journey, in my opinion) to one lucky reader! Enter for a chance to win at the bottom of the post. -Lacy
Lacy: I’ve just started your book and am quickly discovering how much your Mystical Backpacker resonates with my pilgrim heart and my own experiences backpacking across Europe. Tell me, what is “Mystical Backpacking” and how did you come up with the term?
Hannah: I’m thrilled The Mystical Backpacker resonates with your pilgrim heart—I love that! How wonderful you also had the opportunity to backpack Europe (dontcha think it should be part of high school or college curriculums?!) =-) But to answer your question:
- “Mystical Backpacking” is when the outer journey of solitary travel (that includes the ooh’s and aah’s, wonderment and joy of ordinary travel) is coupled with an inner journey to the matters of the heart, the truth of our beliefs and a process of reflecting on the events that helped shape them. This inner process runs parallel to the travel experience and because the journey is twofold, it becomes personally sacred.
- I came up with the term while I was experiencing it firsthand during the travels I reference in the book. As I pared away the outer core of my identity (which is often largely shaped by our responses to external environments), a new ‘me’ emerged—an authentic self who was able to connect with genuine driving desires and my personal path to fulfilling a destiny in alignment with my very soul.
In chapter three, you say that “leaving was the method that most facilitated [your] arriving.” What makes leaving so important?
Leaving is important because ultimately mystical backpacking is a pilgrimage that explores both the outer world and the inner spirit. It is a modern day Vision Quest, if you will, but instead of heading into the wilds of nature, you travel into the wild of the world at large. When you are apart from those people and situations that help define and support you on the home front, the responses you affect that are situational and don’t necessarily resonate with your truth are more easily shed; your authentic self becomes a comfortable space to occupy.
It seems like Mystical Backpacking is most fully experienced as a solitary journey. What is it about traveling alone that offers unique opportunities for transformation?
Traveling alone means you never need to negotiate, compromise or possibly miss out on an opportunity for growth. You can loiter, you can laze, you can rush or you can graze! You are always your own leader and decision-maker, and if this is not something you’re used to, you are in a situation that fosters the development of these skills. As the realization of your own desires are met, you become more acutely aware of what your true and vital needs are.
You emphasize throughout the book that Mystical Backpacking is about both an exterior and an interior journey. What is it about travel and Mystical Backpacking in particular that stirs the interior journey in unique ways?
As you become a person more satisfied and comfortable with making choices that are right for you, the outer world becomes less difficult to navigate. Instead, you are free to put yourself in uplifting and inspiring spaces every day! When our vitality and happiness is sourced from this place, we are in a better place for working through the inner planes and discovering the hidden secrets of our soul. Like surfers riding the waves and paddling in the sun, we enter a joyful flow with the world at large that better yields kindred spirits and mystical experiences.
For readers who might be older and feel like they’re past their backpacking and hosteling years—how can they have a Mystical Backpacking experience while honoring their season in life?
When I was mystical backpacking, I regularly met people in their 50s and 60s who were doing the same. Age is never an obstacle to experiencing the most we can from our lives. Our beliefs about age are the obstacle. If you started out in your teens and twenties believing that you couldn’t travel or that you couldn’t travel alone, then after spending 30 or 40 years accepting this belief as fact is simply more challenging to undo, revise or deconstruct. We are here on this earth. That’s a fact. So, are you going to enjoy it, or are you going to watch the opportunities to enjoy it pass you by? It’s always your choice.
And what about those who are drawn to the persona of the Mystical Backpacker but currently don’t have the opportunity to be away from home? How can they practice the principles behind Mystical Backpacking in everyday life?
Firstly, I would say the poorest I’ve ever been is when I was a mystical backpacker. So, for those people who say they can’t travel because they can’t afford it, I would ask them the following question, “Are you creating obstacles rather than solutions?”
But if the circumstances are truly not affording the opportunity for you to travel, then I would say that one way of experiencing the principal of mystical backpacking is to set aside a period of time—let’s say 3-6 months—where you focus on sourcing your joy. Find ways to connect with what makes you happy. If your friend wants to go somewhere, but you’d rather do something else, then give yourself permission to say no and to meet your own needs. This isn’t selfish or hurtful if the intention is to become a happier person who is inspired by the world they inhabit and wishes to connect with ways in which their own gifts can be realized.
You draw on the image of the labyrinth as a map for your own journey in chapter four, saying, “A labyrinth, like a maze, has no tricks up its sleeve. You can trust it implicitly and relax as you move through it, knowing you will easily find your way.” What wisdom does this have to offer for our own Mystical Backpacking adventures as well as our daily journeys?
The labyrinth is a metaphor for being on the path that serves our highest good. When we can trust the process of our lives we understand that even the challenges and obstacles we face are part of our journey. Being on the right path doesn’t guarantee we won’t face challenges. But it’s much easier to face challenges when the end result is worth investing in and fighting for. When we’re not on the right path, the challenges faced in the pursuit of dreams that don’t resonate for us most often result in feelings of confusion, frustration, anger, bitterness, and eventually, ennui. Who wants that?
And finally, if someone were feeling the tug to set out on a Mystical Backpacking experience, where would they start?
Within! Find the place to go that fuels your soul! If you need help with that, the exercises at the end of Chapter 3 will help.
Perfect. Thanks for sharing, Hannah! You’ve got me hooked!
Thank you for this lovely interview and your insightful questions!
Hannah Papp was born in Manhattan, learned to walk on Long Island and then blossomed into womanhood in Toronto. After finishing her undergraduate degree, she attended graduate school at an American accredited university in Budapest, Hungary. It was from this locale—embittered by love and disillusioned by Eastern Europe—that she became a mystical backpacker. Today, she is the author of the popular blog My Secret Psychic Life and the founder and owner of an award-winning business in Washington, DC.
Are you ready to begin your mystical backpacking adventure? Enter to win a copy of Hannah’s book!
Note: Due to shipping limitations, this giveaway is only available to readers in the US and Canada.
Is the idea of mystical backpacking calling to you? Where would you go? What would you do?