Every day our world gets a little smaller.

With each new iPhone update, the far reaches of the globe feel less far away, the remote villages less remote, and the distant natural wonders more easily accessible. But even in our ever-globalizing society, there is still a delicious diversity out there to be savored. We may be on the brink of a world that is culturally uniform — but we’re not there yet.

The essays you’ll find here are stories of cultural exchange from the perspective of a 20-something, white, female traveler. Some are adventurous; some are thematic in nature (religion, society). A few are intended to raise awareness about current issues abroad, while others are just there to make you laugh at the trials of life on the road.

If you’re looking for insider tips, suggested routes or hostel recommendations, let me be the first to direct you elsewhere! But I promise you’ll find a wealth of information here — just of a different variety than you might expect from a backpacking blog.

All content on The Thoughtful Backpacker is written by Cath Shelton and edited by Maggie Herksowitz and Kim VanderVoort. Special love to all friends, old and new, who have shared in these journeys and have graciously agreed to appear in these stories.