I think I surprised a lot of people by my decision to go down the backpacker route. I mean, it’s me – hotel and suitcase all the way, normally. My own bathroom, towels, maid service, privacy, a nice comfy bed, coat hangers and room service. That what I like. To be honest, I didn’t exactly know what to expect when I initially decided to do this, but it’s certainly been different!
I’m sure some of you who are reading this are experienced backpackers, but you have to start somewhere, I suppose. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
1. You get to meet people so much more than you would in a hotel. You have no choice when you’re sharing with 1,2,3, or even 9 others! I have to say that I’ve either been lucky so far or backpackers are generally nice people, easy to get on with. It’s a bit difficult for me, I have to say, to really make great friends as I’m not around in a single place for long (due to my tight schedule) so you make friends and then might not see them again. Also, most people are in the 18-22 age group, but there‘s often many things in common to chatr about. Still, you can always have a good laugh over beer and discuss footy and travel. The best thing is listening to everyone’s experiences – they’ve all travelled so much at an early age! Great to hear about the places they’ve been to.
2. You quickly get used to the lack of privacy. You have little choice! Sharing dorms with girls is also a little strange to start with, but it has its upsides, of course!
3. You learn to love laundry facilities. Up until Japan, I had never used a laundrette in my life. I’ve always had a washer a home, so it was a new experience to actually pay to do washing! The knowledge that you have got new clean clothes for the next few days is awesome.
4. Getting the bathroom when you want it is a game. Separate shower facilities may be a bit out of the way, but are often more available then the one single shower and toilet in the dorm provided for 10 people. Get up early and shower early evening has proved to be the best way!
5. Backpacks are actually easier, on the whole, than suitcases. Stairs are not the obstacle or effort that are with cases, plus you get to look cooler. I did struggle on the first few times of putting it on though, resulting in several bruises on my arms as I hauled it onto my shoulders! Now, I’m a lot more accustomed, of course. However, there’s still never enough room for all your clothes, souvenirs and things you have to take back, so it’s a constant struggle to fit everything back in. Doesn’t help that I’m useless at folding…
6. It provides variety. I’ve now been in a number of hostels, and each one you never know what to expect, as they arguably vary more than hotels.
So, I’m enjoying this way of travelling, and don’t regret doing it. Sure, there are times where you just want a bit of time on your own and to hog the bathroom as much as you want, but you can find times for these if you’re clever. I may treat myself to a hotel near the end of the trip (flying from Cairns in the north down to Melbourne for a few days then in and out of Sydney) but for now Travel Andy is fully in backpacker mode!