I’m a budget traveller. It’s pretty much a lifestyle choice these days – I’ve been a backpacker for close to 15 years now.
With this designation comes a number of stereotypes that I apparently need to live by.
The last of those is, according to popular wisdom, the most important. I am not allowed to stay in the $100/night place if there is somewhere for $50. I can’t stay in a private room in a hostel if there is a dorm available. I apparently can’t even opt for the six person dorm if the 20 person option is a couple of bucks cheaper.
Well, unfortunately, I don’t believe a word of it. Even at the risk of being judged by the group of hippies in the hostel common room and forced to hand back my backpacker card, there are times when I will happily pay the extra money to stay in a hotel. And you know what? I couldn’t care less.
Much and all as I enjoy the company of others when I travel, after several weeks on the road I get sick of dealing with people. I don’t want to trip over somebody’s bag every time I go to the bathroom. I don’t want to smell their unwashed socks and bodily odours all day. I would really like to get more than four hours of sleep per night, not woken up every hour by high volume snoring or higher volume ‘liaisons’.
When that happens, I stop worrying quite so much about every last penny and start scouring the discount sites to find a hotel for a few days. I take the time to appreciate small luxuries like having a bathroom to myself, or using a towel that hasn’t been sitting damply in my pack for a week. Little packets of shower soap have never looked so good.
Unpacking my bags and having a bit of privacy, even if just for a couple of nights, refreshes my jaded traveller’s soul. Travel burnout has been a real issue for me over the years, but at least now I realise when it is happening and do something about it. When my weariness has passed and I’m feeling totally refreshed again, I’ll stuff everything back in my bag and head towards the nearest hostel – but not a moment before.
Backpacker cred be damned.
[Image via Z_dead]