I hated backpacking: here’s why it’s OK if you do too

May 24, 2017
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For many of us, the idea of being a free-spirited, bright young thang seems to come hand in hand with backpacking through some exotic location. It might just be a combination of young + poor AF + love to travel = backpacker.

Whatever the reason, this image leaves us young people who just so happen to hate backpacking feeling a little like the resident alien in the room whenever travel (inevitably) comes up. We might not be able to tell you how to best survive a night in a dorm room, but we can totally point you to where to go for some killer last minute hotel deals. Luckily, fellow backpacking-hating travellers, you’re not alone.

Hostel living is just not for everyone

It might seem like an obvious point, but the reality of staying in a dorm with (usually) complete strangers is always a little bit different than you originally thought. Hostels are cheap but that oh-so-tempting price comes with a lack of certain amenities we take for granted like air conditioning, sound proofing and, well, general privacy.

And that’s not even before we get to the room itself. Ugh, I need a minute. While dealing with these hostel downsides might be workable for some of us, for others it can be a total deal breaker. Sometimes after exploring all day in a foreign city you just want to retreat to some peace and quiet (and AC, don’t forget the precious AC). There’s nothing wrong with that and you shouldn’t feel bad because the hostel life just isn’t for you.

You can’t truly get to know a city or country’s vibe unless you stay for at least a week

Backpacking is pretty much synonymous with city-hopping. You’ve all seen this sort of traveller: ridiculously oversized backpack resting by their feet, waiting by the side of the road for a bus to take them to an exciting new destination.

But city-hopping every two or three days can get exhausting really quickly. Leaving destinations that quickly leaves little time for true exploring. We all know there’s more to travelling than running from sight to sight. It’s as much about mingling with the locals and finding your very own secret haunts. You can’t really do this unless you stay in one place for at least a week. Sure you might not see as much as your true backpacker friends, but I bet those things you do see will be much more memorable.

You don’t need to “find yourself” to enjoy travelling

Sure, travel is always a transformative experience. You return home knowing just a little bit more about the world and its many colourful people and places than you did before you left.

But you don’t need to “find yourself” to have a “proper” travelling experience. The backpacking lifestyle seems to attract people with this philosophy more than most and hostels are pretty much a temple to self-exploration. Finding yourself shouldn’t just be something exclusively related to travelling, just as travelling doesn’t have to be about finding a better version of you. Travelling can just be travelling: fun, scary and reenergising as it is. And that’s OK.

Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you have to love backpacking

It’s the same as saying everyone over the age of 50 loves a good cruise (let’s be honest, who doesn’t). Just because you’re a super suave young’un doesn’t mean backpacking has to be your jam. There are so many different ways to travel and finding the one that suits you is so much more important than trying to fit someone else’s mould. You do you, guys, and don’t let anyone make you feel bad for it.

Shannon Coward

Shannon Coward is a fourth year Bachelor of Journalism and Bachelor of Arts student at the University of Queensland. She enjoys period dramas, doughnuts and a good nap.