Backpacking… the best way to see the world

Backpacking... the only way to go

I was recently asked to write a piece on backpacking. It is a topic I know a lot about, after all.

In total, I have probably spent around six months (maybe more) of my life backpacking. Mainly this was around Europe. I once asked a friend, who has never travelled further than Thailand (from Australia) why he doesn’t go travelling to places on the other side of the world. He said that the reason was because he wanted to make lots of money first so that he can stay in top notch hotels.

Here’s the thing – I love staying in backpackers! Sure, a fancy hotel might be nice, but you’re not really going to meet anyone there, are you? The thing I love about backpackers is the social aspect. You often are sharing a room and a bathroom with strangers so you’re bound to strike up a conversation.

Last time I went backpacking was to Greece and Turkey. In Greece we ended up making so many friends that we got a team together at the hostel and won a quiz night. We spent our days touring the city of Athens with our new found friends and we’re still in contact with them now (via Facebook – it’s a handy tool.) I know that if they were ever to visit Australia or the UK they would be welcome to stay with us. And in return, if I was ever to visit their country (Canada, a place I really do want to visit) I would be welcome to stay with them.

These encounters could never have happened if we were staying in swanky hotels. (Well, I doubt it.) Also, when you stay in backpackers they often have a bar and fun events planned, such as pub crawls and walking tours. They’re cheap and a good way to get to know your fellow backpackers and often those who take the tours are locals so you get to meet them too.

However, I do have a bit of advice for those planning to backpack for the first time. 1. If you’re a couple, it might be nice to get a double room (if available) so you can escape when you want to. 2. Make sure you label all the food you put in the fridges in the communal kitchens, and don’t expect it to always be there later when you want to eat it. 3. Don’t whinge that the room is too small or that the shower isn’t powerful enough. If you want those improvements you better fork out an extra $150 a night and go stay at the Ritz.

But all in all, I would recommend backpacking to all. Well, all those who are friendly and like to make new friends. For those who like to keep to themselves on holiday and don’t see a trip as an adventure to meet new people, perhaps stick to the Ritz.

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