They are a funny bunch backpackers. Curious, adventurous, eager to see the world and learn.
On a personal journey, on a spiritual journey, literally on that journey, on the flight from Toronto to New York, on the plane from Washington to Honolulu, bungee jumping in South America, on the elephant travelling around Vietnam, going from London to Dubai, flying from Tokyo to Sydney or on the Greyhound bus travelling down Australia’s East Coast, or on the helicopter landing in Papua New Guinea.
Some are in-between jobs, some are on a gap year, some have packed up their lives, some are running away from something, running to something. They flock together and quickly find common ground with fellow travellers. I love the humble traveller who packs their life into 1 backpack.
“Here – take my bike, take my books, take my clothes,” as they give away their belongings, kiss, cry and say farewell to the roots they know so well to land in a foreign place.
Bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to take on the world. Walking down a new city street, negotiating maps, trying to make their way in a new place, looking for a casual job to earn quick money to support their adventure.
You have your street smart, saavy, organised and efficient backpacker that has planned their trip from the airport to the hostel downtown and lands on the ground running. On the other side, you have your virgin traveller still in shock that they have started this journey, a somewhat lost and bewildered face looking out the window of the plane in their new city thinking “What have I done?”.
Instincts kick in and both types of travellers find themselves in their new city.
Quick, find a cubicle, a dorm, a bed to call your own and park your belongings and down to the bar to meet other travellers.
Travellers bond quickly and share stories of home, their journey to the backpackers, travel stories, how to find a job quickly, how to negotiate the city. Resilient, fun-loving, curious, thrifty, this is a special time.
My ears would prick up at the sound of an Aussie accent or mention of Papua New Guinea.
God love backpacker staff. Often travellers themselves, sometimes locals, they will look after you and want you to enjoy your journey and to be safe and careful as you start your journey. The 3-hour work for board model has proven to be a God send and safety net for travellers around the world who have maxed out credit cards and down to their last penny.
For sure, hostels will range from clean to less than sanitary! Some rooms will smell like gym locker rooms and some will be well-maintained and smell beautiful! You will come across your inconsiderate, overexcited, arrogant hostel roommate that does not care what time it is and will flick the lights on and cause a ruckus at 2am and you will also find your best mate at the backpackers.
Travellers will quickly split into 2 groups, one group will fall in love with their new city and stay, the other group will get immersed in the local culture and then move on quickly to the next travel adventure.
And so off they go – one group onto the next travel adventure, the other are on their way, meeting locals, learning about their new environment, until one day it’s time to go. Home calls or they get restless for a new place, a new journey…and so it begins.
Off they go again, on the plane, bright eyes ready for the next new and exciting adventure.
Travel safe backpackers!