Meet the backpacker who hates other backpackers…

Disclaimer: This is a rant. Not everything in this article is to be taken seriously. If you feel offended by some statements, I might actually be referring to people like you. 

After so many months of travelling, staying in more than 50 different accommodations and meeting hundreds of people, I have finally realised something: I hate backpackers. This might seem like a weird thing to say, as I myself am travelling with my big backpack after all. In order to understand what I mean, you will need to redefine your definition of a backpacker. I am not referring to anyone travelling with a backpack per se; the people I am talking about are the guys and gals that call themselves backpackers, stay in backpacker hostels only and continuously talk about backpacking. Big difference here. It’s more like a sizable part of individual travellers, comparable to the entertaining minority that the internet dubs “hipsters”.

If you haven’t really understood what I mean just yet, perhaps you will soon.

#1: They always lead the same conversation

People that haven’t made contact with many backpackers before might imagine their conversations to be entertaining, inspirational, interesting and full of life. Stories from the most beautiful places in the world told by people that have experienced something. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

The better part of conversations does not go any further than “How long are you travelling for?” or “What countries have you been to already?”. The purpose of these questions is simple: Competition. Did he see more places than me? Is he travelling for a longer time? Is he a cooler guy than me?

If the chat actually goes beyond this, it often becomes less of a conversation and more of a series of monologues whose sole purpose is to receive the most acknowledgement from fellow travellers. I guess most people would call that bragging. I suspect that the better part of these people are travelling solely for the purpose of showing off later.

#2: They are too cool to be true

While the term backpacking for me creates an image of freedom and inspiration, of meeting people from all over the world and learning from each other, the reality often looks different. Many backpackers here in south east Asia are closer to the crowd you would expect on party islands such as Mallorca or Ibiza. People that come all the way only to drink and party instead of showing interest in the local culture.

These people also look and behave the same as people on such party islands. Neon-colored shirts (preferably featuring the logo of a cool backpackers hostel or full moon party), sunglasses 24/7 and baseball caps are only a few signs that make it easy to spot them on the street. Not that that would be too hard, they will always be the loudest people in the street anyway.

#3: They are rude and disrespectful

I am certainly not a sensitive guy when it comes to sounds or other annoyances at night time. Sleeping in a dorm requires a certain amount of tolerance. Even though choosing a hostel is always a dangerous decision (you never know what you’re gonna get). I have always been into staying in hostels. Many of my most outstanding travel memories would not have been possible without a hostel. The certain mix of people that come together in a dorm can lead to wonderful experiences.

However, tolerance has its limits. If people are out drinking the half night, that’s their decision. But if they, upon return, turn all lights on, start talking at a normal volume and slam their locker doors, that’s a different story. Why would you even sleep in a dorm if you are not able to show the least amount of respect and sensitivity towards other human beings that are trying to sleep? Choose a private room. Again, its usually the European backpackers that act like this and more than once I have contemplated murder after such a night.

#4: They are always drunk

Perhaps that’s less a backpacker than a whole generation issue, but these guys and gals seem to be drinking at all times. When I get up in the morning to enjoy my complementary breakfast, the backpacker fraction is already (or rather still) up and drinking at the bar. Of course, that is none of my business as long as they leave me alone with that. But if beer is spilled on the dorm floor, people vomit all over the room or somebody comes into the room and acts like an asshole at 4am, that’s a different story. What the hell is wrong with these guys?

#5: They always stay among backpackers – who needs locals, anyway?

So you fly 9,000km (or twice that if you come from the U.S.) to a place, only to sit in the hostel bar and drink with people from your own country? If you get hungry, you enjoy some authentic local food such as burgers and fries at the hostel restaurant (they have an English menu) and at night you watch your favourite soccer team play on satellite TV. Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

Well, it’s not like there would be any interesting people or culture out there, anyway. And most of these locals don’t even speak perfect English, right? Plus, you need to support a local business such as the western-run hostel you are staying in. And if they sell you beer at three times the usual price that’s fine with you as well.

In the end, you can go back home and talk about all these nice people you have met. Europeans, Americans and even some Australians. Locals? Oh yeah, this one guy that drove me to the train station was really nice, he gave me a $ 0.25 discount.

This post was written by Ivo Berg, a backpacker after our own hearts. You can carry on reading his blogs on his website here, or find him on Facebook here.

14 thoughts on “Meet the backpacker who hates other backpackers…

  • July 23, 2014 at 8:31 pm
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    As a fellow backpacker, as well as a tour guide, I couldn’t agree more! Always afraid to say it, but as I’m a backpacker myself I feel justified in my rants! Shared :)

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  • July 26, 2014 at 7:02 am
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    I sometimes put my alarm clock in the middle of the night just to hate with passion backfuckin’packers (when they don’t do it themselves being drunk) and all that industry of drunken coolness Mekong tubing shit. No wonder locals look at westerners with weird eyes… and what’s so fuckin’ lonely about the planet?? thanks for writing it!

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  • July 28, 2014 at 12:14 am
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    Completely agree on all topics mentioned. Though everyone is guilty of behaving in some of those ways. Its more the ones who pretfy much tick everyone of those. I began backpacking years ago and feel it was more independent and adventurous then now its like a big frat party. You really need to becareful who you take recommendations of or even read on sites as newbies ect dont have a clue what surfices as a really good hostel ect… Or the fact is you are not drinking everyday you can have a much better experiance and for longer.

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  • July 28, 2014 at 12:50 am
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    Absolutely agree. Some people seem to travel halway around the world just to get drunk in another country! And too many young travellers are scared to go for a wander without maps, try a restaurant without reviews and talk to locals for advice or even just a chat

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  • July 28, 2014 at 9:16 am
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    Spot on!! I agree 100% with all those points…

    I try to avoid those normal ‘travel’ questions everyone asks when they meet someone as it becomes so repetitive – or I start making very abstruct things up when people ask me, just to change things up..!!

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  • July 29, 2014 at 4:52 am
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    Agree with some points, disagree with others.

    Right off the bat: What a ridiculous disclaimer. Not everything? How do we know which parts?

    #1 the biggest reason to ask those travel related questions is to get and give tips/ideas for the rest of your/their trip. I find myself constantly writing notes in my phone about places to visit, stay, eat etc. which I can then look up later.

    As for general conversation, its just like meeting people back at home. You start with the basics and dig deeper once you find a connection or topic that you’re both/all interested in. Yes, I agree that this is often travel related because that’s an obvious shared interest.

    #2 Not in my experience. Sure, there’s some of these but most people are there to travel and experience the local sights and culture. Avoid obvious party hostels and you should be fine.

    #3 I agree, very annoying. Can only imagine that they haven’t had much hosteling experience so don’t know what its like to be in the other people’s position?

    #4 Not in my experience. Occassionally come across party animals who go out almost every night, not my thing but its up to them. “drunk all the time” is definitely an exaggeration though. Again, avoid party hostels.

    #5 I’ve stayed in plenty of hostels but also done couchsurfing and longer term stays whilst backpacking/traveling. If you’re only staying short term I’ve personally enjoyed hostels the most. If you’re really keen on meeting some locals then you can do couch surfing but its much less convenient. Try this idea on for size: stay in hostels and meet other travellers and then when you visit their countries you have some local friends to meet up with and hangout.

    #6 Not sure of the point of ragging on the Lonely Planet. He’s already ruled out getting tips from other people at point #1 so I guess that leaves online?

    I personally have never travelled with a guide book but do use online resources quite a lot.

    What’s wrong with getting advice from an external source again?

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  • July 29, 2014 at 7:33 am
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    My this is much needed I hope it goes viral. These people are annoying!!

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  • July 29, 2014 at 1:23 pm
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    When was this written? who has a lonely planet guide these days? Nice comments though BTN, the names are less obviously fake this time too.

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  • July 31, 2014 at 7:12 am
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    You’re backpacking to the wrong places, bro. I’ve been two months in Southern Africa and met a bare minimum of the noodles you’re referring to. South East Asia is an amazing, bountiful place, but Koh Samui, Kuta and Koh Phi Phi stopped being local decades ago. Try Myanmar, the Vietnamese coast, Lombok.

    Kids travel to be selfish and drink irresponsibly for sure – but complaining about that is as ridiculous as booking a hostel smack in the middle of the Amsterdam Red Light District and complaining that you roommates didn’t want to mix with the Dutch. Do your research properly and let the juveniles be juvenile where they can’t bother you.

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  • July 31, 2014 at 8:05 am
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    HHHMMM

    After being told I’m always the bad guy, it is refreshing to see a true backpacker see the real situation with noisy rude “backpackers”

    Thank YOU

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  • July 31, 2014 at 8:59 am
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    Well then, you should choose stay in a YHA, where the travellers actually leave the hostel and see the world around them. :)

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  • July 31, 2014 at 5:22 pm
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    Ivo, you need to loosen up a little and enjoy yourself and for crying out loud STOP BEING SO JUDGEMENTAL.

    Young people cutting loose and having fun/making idiots of themselves, nothing wrong with that, we’ve all done it. There comes a time however when we realise that we don’t want to do it anymore, don’t even want to be with that crowd anymore. It sounds like your time’s arrived Ivo – move on

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  • August 2, 2014 at 5:50 am
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    Pete, did you read Ivo’s disclaimer? He acknowkedged that the piece was a rant. Not everything was to be taken seriously. And – perhaps tellingly – if anyone felt offended by some of his statements, perhaps they were the type of people he was referring to.

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  • September 11, 2014 at 7:47 pm
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    I’ve spent 7 years backpacking in developing countries and have never experienced some of the things you complain about. It seems you need to select your destinations better: almost all of Africa, China, India ( outside of the 3 pr 4 touristy areas), Bangladesh, the central Asian stans… There are so many amazing places where seeing another traveler is a rare treat. Just get off the beaten track.

    Reply

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