Last night I was at a party in Santa Monica discussing the pros and cons of backpacking around the world. As you may know, I’m planning to travel in the near future and am currently investigating my options. My friend Magda is a hardcore backpacker and hosteler and was convincing me to do the same. She had some pretty compelling arguments for backpacking and staying in hostels.
Magda’s top three for backpacking:
- It’s easy to meet people in a hostel.
- A backpack is easier to lug from place to place than a suitcase.
- It’s a cheap way to travel.
Janice’s top three reasons for not backpacking:
- A backpack is heavy to lug from from place to place.
- A backpack means less fabulous clothing options.
- I google image searched “backpacking” and was immediately horrified.
Do I even want to backpack across Europe? What about my blogging? I imagined typing up dispatches from the comfort of my own wee flat that I rent for a couple weeks or even a month at a time. One with a view of the Eiffel Tower or some such urban icon. I imagined sipping fantastic coffee and nibbling on vittles procured at my neighborhood cheese/fruit/bread monger whist telling you, dear reader, of my adventures.
I didn’t imagine not that.
Last May, when I was at the train station in Rome, I saw many backpackers. I was shocked to notice one common look on their faces. It wasn’t happiness. It was fatigue.
I’m not really into fatigue. That’s what my job was for. That’s why I quit it.
But Magda had some good points. Backpacking and hosteling does make meeting people easier. And I must admit, my biggest fear is eating alone, seeing sites alone and just plain old being alone. Then again, I like alone time to write which is one of the main goals of this trip. And I’m not sure if I’ll take the time to write if I’m hanging with a group of travelers 90210-style everywhere I go. So I’m a little flummoxed by my options. I want to meet people easily, but I also want a certain amount of alone time. And comfort. Let’s not discount my desire for comfort.
Here’s what I know about backpacking vs suitcasing.
- Having a 75 pound bag on my back doesn’t sound appealing.
- Rolling a suitcase down a bumpy cobblestone street doesn’t sound appealing either.
- I don’t want to eat alone in restaurants.
- It’s easy to meet people in hostels.
- I want to meet people but also want a certain amount of alone time.
- I like the quiet and privacy of my own living space.
- Backpacking has a certain level of adventure.
- An apartment with a suitcase of clothes has a certain level of living as a resident of the city vs a person traveling through the city with a backpack.
- I actually can afford to stay in something a little more comfortable than a hostel.
And in true blogger form, when I can’t figure out something, I turn to you, dear reader. What do you think? Do I backpack and stay in hostels? Do I pack a suitcase and stay in apartments? Do I take a backpack to an apartment? Or do I take one carry-on and figure the rest out when I get there?
Frig I suck at traveling and I haven’t even left yet.