Backpacker Brian tells us his story

“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you are climbing it.” – Andy Rooney
I am someone who needs at least two carrier travel bags for a one-night stay at a hotel, but the current travelling style under spotlight is backpacking.
Brian Wimalasinghe, or as his Instagram goes, Backpacker Brian, is one such travel sensation. Passionate towards travelling and working in tourism, Brian’s photographic eye would make even a lazy person want to get off the couch, grab a backpack, and travel Sri Lanka.
Brian is a graduate of the University of Colombo, and is specialised in marketing. He started his own business with a group of friends called Backpackers Sri Lanka, where they build customised tour packages with an aim to show inspired travellers just how beautiful our country really is.
With a full-time job in tourism, Backpacker Brian loves exploring places he has never been before, but has a particular affinity for hiking, trekking, and mountain climbing.
We reached Brian for an interview and asked him if he had any photos that he had not shared on Instagram as yet.
Although his Instagram boasts amazing photography and is up to date with beautiful posts and drool-worthy pictures of his travels, he actually said that though he takes thousands of photos on a trip, especially creative shots with his GoPro, he isn’t someone who usually uploads travel albums, and instead only uploads a few highlights. So he had enough and more pictures to share with us.
Read on below to hear more about the exciting way he lives and breathes travelling.

Why the name “Backpacker Brian”?

I love backpacking and hitchhiking because it is one of the cheapest and best ways to travel and explore the world, although I try not to stick to one style of travel. I love resort hopping as much as backpacking, but backpacking is all about taking the long route, and going rough, experiencing cities, cultures, and places like the locals would. It allows us to experience and learn from the journey and not just the destination.
The name also comes from the business I run, called Backpackers Sri Lanka, which we started in 2015 for an assignment under the subject of Destination Marketing in my degree. Our idea won the University of Colombo product launch in 2016, so we decided to continue and actually make it a business. We rent out camping equipment and compile customised tour packages as well, to popular destinations in the country.

Best and worst travel memory?

The best: I have so many good travel experiences that really top my list and are up there in terms of how awesome they were. Some of them include the below:
Bicycle Ride to Kataragama: I once rode my Bicycle to Kataragama as a fitness challenge with my best friend in 2010 and it was a four-day journey. I don’t think you will meet many people who have done something like crazy like this (laughs).
Sri Pada via the Kuruwita road: We went to Sri Pada through the Kuruwita foot path in 2009. Now, I don’t believe in ghosts or bad spirits, but some weird incidents happened in there that really had me questioning my beliefs. Unlike now, the road was wild and unclear in 2009, so it could have been our eyes and ears playing tricks on us as well.
The worst: The thing with travelling is, every bad or worst memory becomes one of the best, or most unforgettable experience that you could talk about for years.
One such experience was motor biking to Horton Plains with no prior preparations. We had no sweaters or blankets. We camped just outside Horton Plains, and tried to sleep in the freezing air with only our motorbike helmets for cover.

Must dos in Sri Lanka?

You have to do the Knuckles Duwili Ella Trek, visit the beaches down South, and the Uda Diyaluma waterfall. You should also visit Kehelpathdoruwegala and Yahangala, both beautiful but not so mainstream tourist destinations as well.

Any advice for other young travellers like you?

One thing I really do want to say is that you shouldn’t be travelling just because you feel everyone else is doing it and you also want to climb on the trend.
You should travel only if you like it, enjoy it, and if it makes you happy.
When you do travel, make sure to enjoy the journey and leave only footprints so that others can enjoy it too. Take care to protect the environment and don’t pollute these beautiful places.

IG: @backpacker_brian
YouTube: backpackerssrilanka

By Rovina Vandersay