The Adventure Continues: To Asia with A Backpacking Virgin

Jakarta, Indonesia

In a moment of weakness (you know, when there’s a lull in a conversation where you tend to blurt out whatever that flits through your mind at that moment), I asked my 18 year old brother if he’d like to come with me to travel in Asia.

He was quiet for a beat, then ‘Sure.’

Already regretting having asked him at this point, I pointed to the gadgets surrounding a typical middle-class Indonesian teenager: laptop (with Facebook on the screen, of course), Ipod, comic books…

“You can’t take any of those, you know that, right?”

Quiet. Longer this time.

Then, “No problem.”


Did I just offer to baby-sit my teen brother for 2 months all over South East Asia?

This makes traveling solo in Ethiopia a mild concern by comparison.

Don’t get me wrong. My brother is a nice kid and we get along just fine. But my brother, for all intents and purposes, is a stranger to me. Ever since I moved to the States 10 years ago, I see him about 2 weeks out of the year. If even that.

We’re very different persons. At close to 6 ft, he towers over my 5 ft tall frame. His idea of a fun weekend is staying home watching The Big Bang Theory reruns (err, ok – maybe we’re not that different in this one, geekiness runs in our family), his idea of an exercise is throwing his dirty clothes into the hamper, and he’s never been out of the country by himself before.

He’s also the most generous and most patient person I know. The closest thing to zen while I’m… well, much less so.

The list goes on.

(On the other hand the similarities that we do share include: fear of the ocean, a paralyzing fear of T-rexes when we were 3, and we both wear glasses).

Meet my new traveling buddy, the backpacking virgin (and his new, shiny backpack):

My brother, getting ready for his first backpacking trip

I’m a little apprehensive. Jack is already back in California and I can’t say that I’ve gotten the hang of this whole traveling by myself thing, last time I did this it ended in a fiasco.

Now I have be responsible for taking care of my little brother?

But, this could turn out to be fun, right? The shopping part so far has been fun.

This trip with my brother has a potential to be one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ thingies. As in, nobody can pay me enough to do it again.

Or it could be a golden opportunity to get to know this stranger I share DNA with.

Either way, this should be an interesting experience.

Where are we going?

We have our flights booked to Bangkok, Thailand for the 18th. Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam are all possibilities.

In reality? We don’t know yet.

So, traveling with your sibling, a good idea or what?

Valuable Resources

  • Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders, for those who love anything weird and offbeat.
  • Resource Toolbox: How I find cheap flights, accommodations, and other travel hacks.

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16 Replies to “The Adventure Continues: To Asia with A Backpacking Virgin”

  1. Hehe, good luck!

    I took two of my younger brothers traveling with me to Fiji last year and it was certainly an experience. One of them was antonymous since he had his girlfriend along,but the other needed a bit of coaxing and coaching.

    It'll bring you two closer together though. Such a neat idea.

  2. I traveled with my mum. Bad idea! We both love traveling and can't stand to be away from street food, but clearly we come from different traveling generations.
    To be honest, I did learn a lot about myself and how our generation travels. It was interesting. So although it was a bad idea for me to travel with my mum, it was a good idea to try it. I haven't traveled with my bro yet, but he's no Big Bang Theory fan as I am. So I'm a bit more worried I guess :D.

  3. A great chance and way to get to know your brother! A couple of my sisters and I went to Cuba together a few years ago, and that was awesome, despite all of our very different life and travel styles.
    Have fun!

  4. Oh, I can totally understand where you're coming from! My brother came out to Australia to travel on Work Holiday with Greg and I, and there were definitely some good times and some bad times. Overall, it was a great experience, and I'm very glad that he came to join us. We haven't lived in the same State for 13 years now since I went to college, and it was very good for both of us to get to know each other as adults. It was amazing how much better we get along now than we did when we were kids! 🙂

  5. I just spent a month traveling around SE Asia with my sister and we had a blast! We're complete opposites when it comes to our travel styles, but somehow it just works and we balance each other out. It's starting to become an annual tradition for us… Looking forward to hearing your adventures you have with your bro!

  6. This is a great opportunity for both of you! You get to travel with your brother, learn more about him and his likes/dislikes. He gets to learn about travelling itself (who know, maybe he'll love it and take it up regularly!) and you! Make the most of it! 🙂

  7. Wow, I could NEVER travel with my sister! She would drive me absolutely insane within the first 10 minutes. We are just TOO different.

    Good luck!

  8. Would actually love to travel with my brother or sister!! We'll actually JUST miss you in Bangkok – we're flying to Kuala Lumpur exactly then! Would be great to meet up somewhere in South East Asia though – keep us updated on your travel route, maybe we can make it happen? 🙂

  9. 6 feet?! He ain't little. Envy Asian over here. Lol. Truth be told, I've always wanted to travel with my two younger brothers. I think it'd be fun and nuts at the same time. I'd imagine it's like traveling with my mom. 😉 Haha. Can't wait to read about your adventures with your (not so) little brother. I think it's great!

  10. I'd love to travel with either (or both) of my sisters. But what happened to Jack? He's back in California?? Did I miss something?

  11. It's a great idea. In 2009 I set off for Asia with my little sister in tow. We traveled together through India, Nepal and Thailand, a journey that lasted around 7 months. We too are very different but it's something we were quickly grateful for. Each of us had different skills/characters needed to cope with various situations. Our differences complimented each other's resulting in an amazing journey together.

    Have an amazing trip. I'll look forward to hearing about it.
    All the best.

  12. I just finished a 3-week jaunt with my brother through Indonesia. Now although my relationship with my brother seems a bit different (we're probably best friends but would be too embarrassed to admit it), our relationships with our brothers also have a lot in common (um, we both wear glasses?).
    It took about a week for us to find our grove as travellers together instead of you know, brother and sister…but we definitely found it! What's positive is because this guy shares DNA, you can kind of say whatever you want and not worry about that other person deserting you or no longer wanting to be your pal or whatever.
    If it helps at all, my first time travelling overseas was to meet my brother who had been doing it for years already! Obviously the rest is pretty predictable as the experience totally got me hooked and I have him to thank!
    Wouldn't that be great if the same thing happened with your brother? Hellloooooo bragging rights!

  13. Think if it as a great opportunity to get to know him! I'd love my 19-year-old brother to come to South America for a bit (we are close) but he has no money. 🙁 So I'm kinda jealous!

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