I backpack because I like to travel on the cheap – not because I’m young, dumb and, um… you know the rest.
Nor do I do it because I like to party; although that is a definite bonus. Especially where the beer is cheap, like in Southeast Asia, where you can drink all night long for less than a just a couple of pints in a pub in central London would set you back.
I do it because I love it. Pure and simple. I’ve said it before (see Why I backpack and you should too) and I’ll say it again: I backpack because I want to see the world now, not when I’m older and richer than I am today.
And few things in life bring me greater pleasure than the rush I feel waking up in a foreign country, thinking about how I’m going to spend my day. What is going to blow my mind today? What food am I going to try? Which cultural sights am I going to visit? Who will I meet?
You must admit, these questions are far better than the ones you might ask yourself when you get out of bed to go to work in the morning. Will my boss be in a good mood? Will I have a ham sandwich for lunch or chicken?
And I’m respectful of other cultures and of the environment. Most of the backpackers I’ve met are.
We’re not the ones who stay at fancy resorts that block out the beach – the ones in places like Koh Samui in Thailand, which have signs that read “no thoroughfare” and yet there doesn’t seem to be any public access to the beach anymore.
You’re more likely to find us budget travellers at a guest house a few miles away from the beach, supporting the working-class moms and pops and JRs of the world with much more meagre budgets than the cash-thirsty developers who block out the sun with their towering resort complexes.
That kind of thing is fine in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam or Cambodia – but God forbid if we ever allowed developers to ever do that sort of thing in New Zealand. I’m just saying.
Admittedly, we are the budget travellers who’ve all-but taken over the Khaosan Road in Bangkok, Thailand, and in Vang Vieng, Laos, where you’ll be able to spot every backpacker stereotype under the sun.
But just as not every traveller is a flash-happy photographer with a bum-bag around their waist, not every backpacker is living a cliché.
I’ve read Alex Garland’s novel The Beach, too; we’re not all like the characters in the book – I promise!
What are some other backpacker clichés and stereotypes?