I write this as I sit in the common room of a backpackers hostel in Paihia, Bay of Islands, New Zealand. No, I’m not very far from home but I might as well be.
I am surrounded by a number of different aromas radiating from the kitchen as guests make their dinners ranging from 2 minute noodles to elaborate Italian pasta dishes, different languages and accents can be heard from every direction, celebrations are being held (It’s Easter and the Germans are boiling eggs to dye and decorate while the Ausies are counting their chocolates) and I feel like I’m part of this global… party, despite being a mere 5 hours drive from home. I could be anywhere in the world right now and that makes me feel ALIVE. It fuels my wanderlust enough whilst I’m saving my pennies to actually leave the country again.
I’d have to admit that whilst on this road trip the decision to stay in a backpackers’ was a purely economical one, I’m now glad I did it. Your fellow backpacker will always have your… back. Whether it’s local knowledge you need (That’s where I’ve been coming in handy) or a hand to figure out the microwave settings, everyone is in the same boat and happy to help. They’ll even leave you well alone if you are keen to just read a book and chill out. The vibe here is communal, happy and free. No one cares what you look like or what you wear, they only wanna know where you’ve been and where you’re going and if you’re up for it, what you’re doing tomorrow.
If you want a little taste of the world but can’t afford to cross the ditch just yet (Kiwi speak for leaving the country/ going to Australia etc) I urge you to give a local (/regional/ opposite end of the country if you’re keen) backpackers a try. You are guaranteed to meet people from all walks of life who have a common goal: to explore.
I’ve only stayed in a handful of backpackers (Sydney, New York, Bangkok, Cape Reinga and Paihia) but I’m starting to realise that this is a great way to travel. Not only is it economical… it’s eye opening, fun, and something a little different.
So pack your backpack and get backpackin’.