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Is backpacking a social phenomenon?

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6220
    Total reviews: 10

    I always thought of backpacking as a descriptive for traveling around with a pack on your back and trying to do so cheaply. But the more I read here on travelfish, the more I am getting the idea that for at least a lot of people they see it as a style of socializing. A recent post that talked about "acceptance" with other backpackers and the often brought up theme of finding other backpackers to socialize with made me wonder if most people don't regard backpackers as a unique tourist subset that they are interested in socializing with - indeed that they prefer to socialize with. And that part of the reason they are coming to SEA is to socialize with other backpackers. Is this an accurrate interpretation?

    #1 Posted: 4/8/2013 - 23:19

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  • TimmyG

    Joined Travelfish
    11th March, 2013
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    I can't speak for other backpackers, but my reason to backpack for half a year (starting in september and it will be my first time) is a combination of factors. First i am very interested in the nature and culture of SEA. I live in The Netherlands and I think it will be completely different from anything I've ever seen and experienced in Europe. The other factor is the experience itself. For 6 months I will be on my own, without any obligations. When I feel like relaxing on a beach, I can stay on the beach.

    A few months ago I started planning this trip. The more I read about backpacking I realized that socializing is an important factor for traveling. As I will be on my own, I will meet other travelers and share experiences. I think it is important to do so or it will be a lonesome time. However, meeting other backpackers is not the reason for my trip. I do this trip purely for myself, to learn things about myself I probably didn't know before. Maybe I will learn that I need to have other backpackers around me, or the other way around.

    Maybe your interpretation is right for other backpackers. From what I've read, there are indeed backpackers who travel for the partyscene. I think these are the people who travel to socialize. I think they go to SEA without realizing the real differences between SEA and their homecountry. For them, the weather is good, the beer is cheap and there are lots of fellow backpackers.

    #2 Posted: 5/8/2013 - 03:37

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    If you go back to the forerunners of backpacking like W. H. Davies, Jack London, jack Kerouac. These guys went off to experience the freedom of the road. Not knowing what was around the next corner. The 1960's and 70's then saw the hippie trail to Katmandu and beyond. The search for self enlightenment ( or drugs if you are cynical)
    A lot of the modern day backpackers seem to be a bunch of hooray henrys taking a gap year from college to spend daddy's money and embellish their CV's with a month spent in some third world orphanage.They experience nothing more than reeling off a list of destinations they've visited whilst quaffing the cheap local hooch.
    ;-)

    #3 Posted: 5/8/2013 - 09:15

  • DLuek

    TF writer
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    Those last two lines of Sayadian's are classic -- and an accurate description of many 'backpackers' too.

    I suppose it means different things to different people. But certainly there are those who are out there for the whole "backpacking scene", which is more or less a social/travel thing. It's huge in Europe and South America too -- traveling around with a backpack, staying in hostels, making/saying goodbye to new friends and having some wild times along the way. It's not how I've ever liked to travel, but I see nothing wrong with it.

    But you're right, Mac, I guess I've never considered myself a "backpacker" even though I've always been a budget traveler. The reason isn't because I use a duffel bag rather than a backpack either -- it's because my aim is to be immersed in the country's culture(s) rather than in a "backpacking culture", which is something I'd say definitely exists just as "rave culture" or "snowboarding culture" does.

    #4 Posted: 5/8/2013 - 10:12

  • daawgon

    Joined Travelfish
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    The world is changing, styles are changing, and so is backpacking changing. Here in the States, I feel that backpacking is looked down upon by many of my countrymen as reserved for the dirty liberal youth. Then there are the smart ones who realize that backpacking is just the very best way of seeing the world, regardless of age or wealth. I think it is true that backpackers are just friendlier and more open to new relationships than those very private souls who travel with their Samsonite cases, and insist on private cars for transport.

    I now consider myself as a flashpacker - I'm older, and consequently really need a little more comfort, but still enjoy the wonderful backpacker lifestyle and companionship.

    #5 Posted: 5/8/2013 - 11:45

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6220
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    Without a doubt backpacking in the US is more difficult. First of all, the geograghy makes it tough. Western Europe in particular has an extensive train network and the distances between cities is short. The US is HUGE and the distances are long, hence rail trainsport if far less efficient and less common. The US also doesn't have much in the way of "hostels" (probably because there's not much of a market - go back to geograghy).

    Like DLuek, I have always preffered to meeet indigenous persons over other foreigners. And now that I live here, I prefer to ride and I tend to target locations in Issan - which doesn't have a big backpacker scene with a few notable exceptions.

    I was just curious. I consistently have noticed people asking about how they can meet up with other backpackers / travellers and when guesthouses are referenced there is often talk about the social scene associated with it.

    #6 Posted: 5/8/2013 - 12:32

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
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    At least 98

    I often thought that after having so much fun as a budget traveller in southeast Asia and Mexico and other places, that I'd open a backpacker-style hostel here in the states. I thought I could put it near a national park or some other interesting place and have enough amenities that it could be a destination all in its own right. But after watching two hostels right near where I live fail within a short time of each other, I realized that there isn't much of a market for it here for exactly the reasons MADMAC says, and the hostels I have stayed in here in the states weren't particularly nice or friendly and certainly weren't cheap.

    Anyway, I think when people want to meet up with other travellers it is for several reasons. First is that shared experience - to see a place through a point of view that may be somewhat similar to your own. It's the same reason we often go to the movies with friends when we could just as easily go by ourselves. Part of that is logistics of course, particularly a common language. Second is that one of the best ways to get information on the road is from other travellers - where they've been, what they did, where they stayed, how they got there, and how much it cost.

    When I was younger, the idea of travelling by myself was uncomfortable. I thought I'd get lonely or bored. Now that I'm older and have done it a bunch of times, I realize that isn't the case and in many ways travelling by myself is even more rewarding. A side benefit of that is when I travel by myself I tend to head off to more remote or less-visited spots.

    But most of the people on this website aren't 50 years old like me. They are 20-somethings or even younger off to have an adventure and a good time and to hook up with new friends. More power to them. Regards.

    #7 Posted: 5/8/2013 - 13:14

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Well the funny thing is, when I travel I travel with a backpack. I ride, but I still have a backpack. So I guess by definition I'm a backpacker... but I don't stay in hostels. I prefer something slightly more upscale. And I don't hang out in bars with foreigners. And I don't like to sight see very much. I like to do stuff - like go to TKD fights, or play chess, or find a good spot to chill and read or go swimming... I always have a purpose and that purpose doesn't invlude looking at things very often (once in a while it happens). I guess I see things much more like DLuek and Exacto.

    Of course when I was young I travelled extensively courtesy of the US Army - and with a backpack (which we called a rucksack). But I don't think it would fit the defition of "backpacking". It was high adventure though.

    #8 Posted: 5/8/2013 - 13:25

  • Snookieboi

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    I started out backpacking, sussing out the scene, then travelled alone and started mixing with the locals more than the travellers scene. Now having done all that, i prefer to flashpack. The convenience of the backpack, plus the wisdom of having travelled on a shoestring has helped me greatly. I did Asia on the cheap, had my good fun, think it's all part of the journey.

    Mind you, i was never the type to spend too much time hanging about with other travellers. That's a comfort/confidence thing. Once travel confidence is achieved, one deffinately does not want to be around learner travellers fussing and worrying about basics that bore you.

    Backpacking is part of a travellers journey, but not necessarily the destination.

    #9 Posted: 5/8/2013 - 13:53

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 1557

    Way back it used to be called travelling. That is when people took off from Amsterdam to Katmandu and without doubt those people went for the dual reasons of shared experience with other travellers (there were no Lonely Planet etc then so it was vital to interact with fellow travellers for mundane matters like finding a cheap hotel in Kabul or staying out of danger. The other purpose was the beauty of the open highway and the chance to meet 'exotic' peoples like the Patan of Afghanistan.
    Then of course there was the spiritual thing. Meditation in India, getting to Nirvana by smoking copious amounts of ganja with the Sadhus. I don't know if the full moon party on Koh Pangan has the same ring about it.
    When did travellers become backpackers.It was definitely some kind of metamorphosis.

    Off thread a little. Madmac talks about his army rucksack and lots of people ask about the best bag to carry.
    Well the Bergen is the pack of choice for the British Army. Is it used by the U.S. Army? It is the finest you can purchase in my opinion.

    #10 Posted: 5/8/2013 - 14:32

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  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6220
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    We use the Alice Pack Sayadian. Not quite as much space for content as the Bergen, but very similar. Normal deployment you take your Alice and two Duffel's. One Duffel contains required gear for deployment that is not often used (like NBC gear) and the other contains extra uniforms, blanket, Poncho liner, sleeping bag, any personal items you want to take etc. In my last five six deployments, having learned from experience, I would get everything into the Alice and one Duffel. The Alice in principal is for long range foot patrolling / insertion where you need to take a lot of extra food, water and ammunition. I only did that in practice in my last deployment (albeit I did it often as a small team leader), so all the stuff I had in my Alice I stored in my hooch to empty it and make room for those items. I like the Alice pack and it was sufficient for my requirements, but the Bergen is a good bag, no doubt.

    #11 Posted: 6/8/2013 - 00:40

  • daawgon

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 910
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    "I often thought that after having so much fun as a budget traveller in southeast Asia and Mexico and other places, that I'd open a backpacker-style hostel here in the states. I thought I could put it near a national park or some other interesting place and have enough amenities that it could be a destination all in its own right. But after watching two hostels right near where I live fail within a short time of each other, I realized that there isn't much of a market for it here for exactly the reasons MADMAC says, and the hostels I have stayed in here in the states weren't particularly nice or friendly and certainly weren't cheap."

    Americans seem to think they need "luxury" over just about everything, and then there's the RV crowd! It's just not economically feasible in this day and age, and as Madmac said, the US is not Europe. There are so many places I've never been to in my own country (Alaska, Yellowstone, etc.), but I'm not about to spend considerable amounts for sterile motel rooms, rental cars, etc. when I can travel much further for my dollar in SE Asia, and see a great deal more with nicer people, to boot!

    #12 Posted: 6/8/2013 - 13:06

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    "Americans seem to think they need "luxury" over just about everything."

    Daawgon Americans aren't rich. When my dad had his summer vacation, we either went camping or we stayed at a friends cabin in Vermont. We never had luxury on vacation and I don't know anyone who did. That's not the middle class American way. You should know that already.

    #13 Posted: 6/8/2013 - 14:05

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    Americans appear rich because all your television shows were based in affluent surroundings.Maybe that changed when series like 'The Wire' started to appear.
    I went backpacking in U.S. when I was a teen and I recall my first impressions were of wealth. Your cars, your televisions, your refrigerators were so much bigger. I stayed with a friend in L.A.and he lived in an apartment block with a swimming pool!!! The exclamation marks represent the awe I felt at the time. I did some hitch-hiking and met some pretty crazy people. Once picked up by a car full of bikers blind drunk, passing bottles back and forth between cars doing 90+.
    Another guy was going home after driving around for three days on a bender.
    In New Orleans the cops picked us up solely because they wanted to hear our accents.They were cool,give us a ride in a squad car.
    Most of the trip was delivering cars. Maybe people don't do that now but it was a great way of getting across The States and those cars were also big enough to sleep in.
    All in all I found the people of the U.S. hospitable and friendly.

    #14 Posted: 7/8/2013 - 01:38

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    "Maybe that changed when series like 'The Wire' started to appear."

    Well actually most shows didn't show great affluence. All in the family, Lucille Ball, etc.

    But there was of course "Dallas" which did have that kind of background and it was big back in it's day.

    "All in all I found the people of the U.S. hospitable and friendly."

    My wife says this too. Americans are somewhat insular. Again, geograghy favors that. But insular doesn't mean xenophobic - although there is some of that sadly towards minorities. We have a difficult history there.

    #15 Posted: 7/8/2013 - 04:45

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 1557

    'Well actually most shows didn't show great affluence. All in the family, Lucille Ball, etc.'

    You know Lucille Ball was going through my head when I wrote about affluence. For us that huge lounge, TV and car represented something way out of our reach. What was the norm for you was affluence to me.
    When I visited The States the other great shock was the amount of appalling poverty I saw in places like St. Louis, Detroit etc.

    ....and of course Sgt Bilko was a true representation of the American army I'm sure.

    ;-)

    As regards your history I expect you are referring to the divisions which led to The Civil War.
    I went to the South and found there was still resentment against Northerners. Driving with New York plates in Tennessee, Alabama etc we got stopped a lot by the police but again the old world accent got us off the hook. If Robert E. Lee hadn't dithered at Gettysburg the U.S. might be a different country.

    #16 Posted: 7/8/2013 - 06:50

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    "If Robert E. Lee hadn't dithered at Gettysburg the U.S. might be a different country."

    And a worse one. For one, it would have been at least two countries. And it would have been two countries that were antognistic towards each other. So Germany might well have won WW I. Certainly WW II (if there was a WW II). It would have radically changed global history for sure because there would be a superpower that was no longer all that super.

    "When I visited The States the other great shock was the amount of appalling poverty I saw in places like St. Louis, Detroit etc."

    Although as I remind my friends, there is no real poverty in the US. Nobody is starving to death. Africa - now that was brutal poverty where people did die of malnutrition routinely.

    #17 Posted: 7/8/2013 - 07:40

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 1557

    It's a wonder some backpackers at the lower end of the strata don't die of malnutrition or worse. I've met some who drink the tap water in Bangkok and Phnom Penh and survive on those noodle packs in the 7-11. Anything to save a penny. I wonder what thrill they get living like that?

    #18 Posted: 7/8/2013 - 08:00

  • chinarocks

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 681

    "I wonder what thrill they get living like that?"

    The thrill of being able to tell their mates they managed to survive on $xx per day I would imagine. It's like a badge of honour in backpacking circles, whereby anybody who chooses to splash out every now and then is frowned upon. Although I'm sure there may be some cases where kids have no option, e.g. money got stolen, blew it all on drugs etc.

    You're right though - I remember when I was in South America (I think it was Argentina) many years ago and a guy started crying in the kitchen of the hostel I was staying at because somebody stole his last tomato. Like seriously, a tomato. It's not like somebody made off with a good fillet steak of his.

    Surely it's better to go somewhere for two months and spend $40 a day then $20 a day over four months.

    #19 Posted: 7/8/2013 - 08:59

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

    Joined Travelfish
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    Surely it's better to spend $100 a day and live it up. The last time I stayed in hostels there were multiple people who rarely did anything for days. They would hang out watching TV, smoking and talking about doing something but lacked the funds to do much. It was like they were living cheap for longer but barely doing anything. What's the point of that? More fun spending $100 a day for 3 weeks and doing lots than going for months and doing little.

    #20 Posted: 7/8/2013 - 10:04

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

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    "Anything to save a penny. I wonder what thrill they get living like that?"

    I think people like that hate their life back home and are just trying to cling onto their travel dream longer even if it means they live in poverty.

    #21 Posted: 7/8/2013 - 10:07

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

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    "Americans appear rich because all your television shows were based in affluent surroundings.Maybe that changed when series like 'The Wire' started to appear."

    What's fake TV shows got to do with real life?

    #22 Posted: 7/8/2013 - 10:10

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 1557

    'What's fake TV shows got to do with real life?'
    You ARE kidding right?
    Have you never heard of people getting attacked because they played some bad character on a soap?
    I'll just let Frank Zappa explain it a bit better.

    'I am gross and perverted
    I'm obsessed and deranged
    I have existed for years
    But very little has changed
    I'm the tool of the government
    And industry too
    For I am destined to rule
    And regulate you

    I may be vile and pernicious
    But you can't look away
    I make you think I'm delicious
    With the stuff that I say
    I am the best you can get
    Have you guessed me, yet?
    I'm the slime oozin' out
    From your TV set'

    From: I am the slime by Frank Zappa 1973.

    #23 Posted: 7/8/2013 - 11:08

  • DLuek

    TF writer
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    'The thrill of being able to tell their mates they managed to survive on $xx per day I would imagine. It's like a badge of honour in backpacking circles'

    This is true, and I've never understood it one bit. I don't mind taking a fan room or local bus rather than taxi -- there's nothing wrong with being frugal -- but I've never understood how being ridiculously stingy while traveling is somehow perceived as 'cool' or 'wise' or whatever... You know what kills me? When people from affluent countries visit poor countries and constantly haggle the locals down, fighting for discounts on everything in a way that often degrades the locals by assuming they're all trying to overcharge. When dealing with locals, many people from the West really do act as though they're superior in some way... I never realized the extent of this until I started dating a woman (Thai) who runs a small tour company and saw it first-hand.

    Personally, I'm fine with being overcharged a little. I can understand and appreciate the fact that me being from a wealthy country and at least having the money to travel abroad makes me rich in the eyes of many Southeast Asians. Yes, I could haggle the Bangkok motorbike and tuk tuk drivers down an extra 10, 20, maybe 30 baht, but I never do. The way I see it, I'm happy to contribute a little extra to someone who obviously comes from a poor background in a country that offers very few opportunities for poor people to move up.

    The odd thing is that chances are those 'discount or die' backpackers would never think of acting like that in their home countries because they'd just be perceived as stingy, but somehow it's considered 'cool' to do it here. Makes no sense to me, and it makes them look like total losers in the eyes of the local people.

    #24 Posted: 7/8/2013 - 11:37

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    "The way I see it, I'm happy to contribute a little extra to someone who obviously comes from a poor background in a country that offers very few opportunities for poor people to move up."

    I kind of share this viewpoint. My wife sure as hell doesn't though. If I say "come on baby, it's an extra buck. Cut the guy some slack." Nope. I'm in the doghouse for overpaying.

    #25 Posted: 7/8/2013 - 11:47

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

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    "West really do act as though they're superior in some way"

    Form of racism really.

    But re Tuk Tuks they often overcharge and usually I ignore them and catch cabs. Tuk tuks wanted 150 baht from MBK to pratunam. Cab costs about 70 baht and I give them 100 or 90 and let them keep it but I wouldnt pay 150 for a smelly tuk tuk whilst inhaling smoke. A lot of tuk tuk drivers are downright scammers and time wasters too. I'm happy to tip someone 20 baht or so but not if they want to waste my time going the wrong way.

    #26 Posted: 7/8/2013 - 11:50

  • LukeMackin

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    "You know what kills me? When people from affluent countries visit poor countries and constantly haggle the locals down, fighting for discounts on everything in a way that often degrades the locals by assuming they're all trying to overcharge."


    I have seen this so many times and can't stand it. It's absolutely one of the worst behaviors that backpackers display. What gets me is that a lot of these same people will go back to their home countries and buy a cup of fair trade coffee for $$$$ - but when they have an opportunity to pay someone a fair wage directly face-to-face, they balk.


    It also drives me crazy when people buy something or pay for a service, but then find the product or service for a lower price elsewhere and complain how they were "ripped-off" or "robbed." If you agreed on the price and were happy to pay it, then how were you ripped off?? Especially hypocritical considering how often Western countries have ripped off and exploited other countries. Some travelers definitely need to relax more and enjoy the journey rather than be so uptight and worried about a few dollars. A bad attitude is more likely to ruin a trip than anything else.


    And to the original, I definitely think backpacking is just a social thing for a lot of folks, evidenced by how many backpackers are afraid to actually venture off of the Banana Pancake trail. I kinda love this article: http://www.501places.com/2010/10/the-great-untold-myth-of-backpacking/

    #27 Posted: 7/8/2013 - 21:14

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

    Joined Travelfish
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    "I’d much rather be in a hostel than a bland hotel and I’ll continue to enjoy socialising with my fellow backpackers. I would just recommend anyone who hasn’t tried it yet to give it a go – oh and for us ‘travellers’ to stop looking down our noses at the ‘tourists’ on their package holidays."

    He seems to look down upon hotels though.

    #28 Posted: 7/8/2013 - 21:59

  • DLuek

    TF writer
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    A lot of tuk tuk drivers are downright scammers and time wasters too.

    This is definitely true and I share your viewpoint on that. I never, ever take tuk tuks (or taxis) that sit around on street corners in tourist areas and blatantly try to charge double what a taxi would cost. I often feel like these people are shooting themselves in the foot because, while they might make some extra from a tourist here and there, people like me who live in the city and actually enjoy taking tuk tuks totally avoid them in tourist areas for this reason.

    But when you look at both Bangkok and Thailand as a whole, most tuk tuk drivers are genuinely good people just trying to earn a living. These are the people I'm talking about.

    #29 Posted: 7/8/2013 - 22:18

  • Snookieboi

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    """"And to the original, I definitely think backpacking is just a social thing for a lot of folks, evidenced by how many backpackers are afraid to actually venture off of the Banana Pancake trail. I kinda love this article: http://www.501places.com/2010/10/the-great-untold-myth-of-backpacking/'''''''

    I think we need to seperate the 'banana pancake backpackers', from the other backpackers. I mean using a backpack does not make you a part of that scene necessarily. That said, the banana pancake scene can have its merits if youre young like having a reliable social scene, etc. It's almost a young travellers kindergarden.

    I like to travel on a budget too. I'm in my mid 40's, but now tend to stay longer in places. I'll happily splurge now and then, but tend to travel away from the crowds. That's not to say that if there's a group of travellers having a beer, that i won't join in. I might however find that we have little in common, however.

    #30 Posted: 8/8/2013 - 01:55

  • Snookieboi

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    Well, i gotta agree with the majority of comments about those 'banana pancake backpackers'. No doubt, the lonely planet 'shoestring' guides had their part to play. Looking for the cheapest deal became the buzzword back then, especially with Israeli's-the absolute worse in terms of near death bargaining! But then again, the locals weren't short of a few scams themselves!

    Fear, yes, that's why they travel in these groups, eat the same pancake fodder-watch re runs of friends-it's mass comfort eating, wow travels in Asia are so damned friggin scary mom. The other day a tuk tuk driver tried to overcharge by 25 cents, geez!

    #31 Posted: 8/8/2013 - 03:02

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Snookie
    The entire phenomenon is just so alien to the SEA / Thailand that I know. Hard for me to relate to.

    #32 Posted: 8/8/2013 - 03:30

  • Snookieboi

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    Madmac, you obviously don't hang out in them places. They do exist.

    #33 Posted: 8/8/2013 - 05:56

  • daawgon

    Joined Travelfish
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    "Americans seem to think they need "luxury" over just about everything."

    Daawgon Americans aren't rich. When my dad had his summer vacation, we either went camping or we stayed at a friends cabin in Vermont. We never had luxury on vacation and I don't know anyone who did. That's not the middle class American way. You should know that already.

    ..........................................................................................................................................................
    Madmac - I probably worded that poorly, but if you could see the current batch of American TV shows and commercials, it's all based on violence, wealth, beauty and luxuries. I also watch British TV shows, and what attracts me there is the fact that it's much more realistic (real people, not beauty queens), and it's not just based on the lives of the upper middle class and the wealthy. I hate to say this about my own country, but Americans are generally a bunch of lazy people when you compare them to the hard working people in Asia (yes, I do include myself in this group of lazy persons)!

    We need to get back to basics, and backpacking is a good way to start.

    #34 Posted: 8/8/2013 - 09:55

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6220
    Total reviews: 10

    I agree, but I think we just suffer from a bit of nastalgia there. I thought All in the Family was a great show that was both funny and explored the social issues of the day (albeit it was very left leaning). I like MASH when I was a kid. The Benny Hill Show and the Dave Allen Show were funny in their own ways. On the other hand, we had nothing even approaching Game of Thrones or The Wire. Thai TV, on the other hand, is just a flat out abortion.

    #35 Posted: 12/8/2013 - 04:45

  • caseyprich

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2010
    Location China
    Posts: 1202
    Total reviews: 53
    Places visited:
    At least 48

    Two points I'd like to make after only scanning through this thread -

    1) Bring a backpack because the sidewalks suck and often have become store fronts, also, if you plan to hike. Am I a backpacker even though I refuse to sleep in dorms? However, I don't bring a laptop with me so I don't feel like a flashpacker? I don't think you can define it as a 'social' descriptor so much as I'd describe it as an 'economic' descriptor, at least that is generally how I feel I've heard it used. Really, most people traveling, especially alone as I have, will sit down with anyone willing to talk to them if they've just spent the entire last day on a bus and want to share a cold one. Travel often seems to break down these economic descriptors as a barrier to communication - instead you can get along with people who may come from very different backgrounds. It could be the women who owns a bed in breakfast in France, a local guy who is hanging outside his cafe over Tet, the scrappy young couple taking a gap year or the retired army dude who is into salsa.

    2) I get the point about haggling, and I will usually do so for just a little lower price - however, coming from China and with my experience in parts of Cambodia and Vietnam it seems the locals can actually get a kick out of it if you do it for fun and sociability. I've haggled with one guy in Vietnam only to end up having some drinks with him later outside his shop. That said, in China they'll be disappointed if you don't haggle --- at some of those markets they are bored to death and want to practice their English, haggling in a fun and respectful way can give them a good story to tell over dinner just as much as it can give you that conversation piece for your bookshelf. The other big point about coming from China, some will not just try to rip you off in some places, they will REALLY RIP YOU OFF. In that case, rather than haggle, I'd just walk away if they start out with a super absurd price and maybe they'll learn something.

    #36 Posted: 15/8/2013 - 18:37

  • Snookieboi

    Click here to learn more about Snookieboi
    Joined Travelfish
    14th April, 2013
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 61

    Young newbie backpackers are definately what fuel the 'pancake triangle', although they may never have planned in doing so, as it's now a little bit too cheesy. I guess it's nice to be easy, lazy, and social-and why not? There are many benefits like ease of meeting up with the opposite sex, company, learning from different angles of perspective, etc.

    #37 Posted: 16/8/2013 - 06:51

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    In the red corner a flashpacker.
    In the blue corner a backpacker.
    Seconds out.
    :-)

    #38 Posted: 23/8/2013 - 13:11

  • somtam2000

    admin
    Click here to learn more about somtam2000
    Joined Travelfish
    21st January, 2004
    Location Indonesia
    Posts: 7039
    Total reviews: 24
    Places visited:
    At least 113

    Locking this one off -- started interesting, ended up with garbage. Will delete the garbage tomorrow when i have a functional internet connection. Thanks for your patience.

    #39 Posted: 28/8/2013 - 10:08

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