What Is Today’s Backpacker And Why There Is a Need For New Name

Many things have changed in the world since the first independent travellers ventured off into unknown a few decades ago…

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When hippies were discovering the Asia, Africa, South America or even Eastern Europe, travel was harder and they were immersed in the foreign culture. They may have a small budget, but the means of international transport were no cheap thing, so they had to do it unconventionally. The communication with home and Western world was harder, local language was easier to pick up when there was no Google translate to aid their hand gestures. Most of all, almost all of the roads were less-travelled or off-the-path.

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This is no longer true in majority of places around the globe, and thus backpackers evolved.

What it meant to be a backpacker

Backpackers were a different breed than what they are now. The experience was more focused on local people and learning their customs, cultures and languages. Since there were nearly no western restaurants abroad, backpackers had to eat what they’re offered. Even information on how to get from one place to another had to come from a local or fellow backpacker who has already done something similar, but it was much harder to find the latter. Lonely planet books became popular not so long ago, so preparation for such a journey took more than $20 in a book store.

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People who had passion for discovery, mostly carrying huge backpacks, were proud to be independent travellers on low budget. They came up with a name backpacking and felt an instant liking for people who did what they did. It meant something to be a backpacker, so much so it became mainstream now. And all of it was true as recently as 10-15 years ago.

What backpackers do now

Technological advancements made it easy to share information, cheap international flights made it easy to travel far, and mass media including internet made it easy to share information. Foreign independent long-term travel became cheaper, faster, safer and much more common. It’s even much easier to develop online source of income to support travels.

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So what backpackers tend to do now (not all, of course)? Party, and party they do. Seems like the easier access to backpacking and the fact that it became mainstream did the term no good deed. Instead of immersion in a foreign culture, young people just before going to university, or just after graduating, go on long vacation to party just like at home. The difference is that they call them selves backpackers, but instead of learning the new culture, they abuse the lesser regulation to do things they wouldn’t do at their home countries.

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For example, once a peaceful island of Koh Phangan in Thailand is now a backpacking destination where thousands of young people go to drink beyond any limit. The societies of such destinations change dramatically from hospitable and welcoming to greedy and loathing Western culture. No wonder, anyone who visited Vang Vieng in Laos can see it on peoples’ faces. Money is not what these local people were brought up to value the most, but since that’s the only good thing that is left for them after the visitors leave – they’ve learned to use it.

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Backpackers now are mostly people who travel to foreign countries to party and meet other backpackers. It’s only a wild break from their family and time to do things they’d be scared or ashamed to do back home. Of course I’m not saying that a traveller cannot drink, but if majority of the journey is spent drunk, it’s as good as staying at home.

What are the alternatives

Well, for one people who do this should revise what they call themselves – “drinkpacker” should work. Then again, there are already other names in use, such as “flashpacker” or “poshpacker”. I personally call myself tramp. This is a word that rarely anyone would like to be called in their city, but for me it means much more than a homeless. In the context of a traveller, it’s someone temporarily homeless so that they can have more freedom. It’s inspired by Into the Wild where the main character called himself Alexander SuperTramp.

What do you think about today’s backpackers? What other names can you suggest for independent long-term travellers?

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{ 83 comments… add one }
  • Julia January 8, 2014, 3:08 am

    Does the name really matter? It’s not a profession. It’s a passion and passions don’t need names.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 9, 2014, 3:43 am

      The point is more about the attitude, but it would be awesome to come up with a new name with no label attached.

      Reply
  • Megsy January 8, 2014, 3:58 am

    I don’t know if the name is important. Just because some kid bought an expensive backpack to go to Thailand and play up for a week, doesn’t mean he’s/she’s a backpacker.
    I hope that today most people can tell the difference between real travellers trying to be educated about the world and it’s cultures, and some drunken gap year kids.
    Sadly though they are giving us a bad name in many countries, as we are now seen as ATM machines and nothing more….it’s a tough one!

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 9, 2014, 3:42 am

      I know. I felt like a cash-point in Vietnam where people were trying to rip me off all the time. So frustrating.

      Reply
  • The Guy January 8, 2014, 4:50 am

    Great article and very thought provoking Agness.

    The article brings back memories for me of 1993 when I went interrailing around Europe for a month with a backpack. This was before the days of the internet and we had a “Let’s Go” guide as our source of information. We experienced various cultures and tasted life in each country. We also made mistakes with travel planning and became stuck for a whole day in Milan station since the rail company said our tickets were only valid for night travel unless we paid a surcharge. We were on a budget so had to wait until the night.

    This culture of going somewhere hot/warm/different just to get drunk is a great shame. It also gives the countries where these people originate from a bad reputation. In many tourist spots of Spain and Greece the Brits have a bad reputation because they get drunk and misbehave in the claim of having fun on holiday.

    Backpacker/holiday maker, what ever the term for me it does not matter. People (as you point out) should always respect the local customs and cultures. Ignorance of these cultures is totally disrespectful and can land you in a lot of trouble/jail.

    Julia, I think the point is more about the attitude rather than the name applied to these people who travel.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 9, 2014, 3:41 am

      So true, many thanks for sharing. I also think the name does not matter here. It’s all about your travel attitude and lifestyle.

      Reply
  • Aggy January 8, 2014, 5:17 am

    An interesting read. You are so right, so many people abuse that name and instead of learning the culture, they drink and drink. Like so many people do in Kuta, Bali. While they are in one of the most exotic islands in the world, all they care about it seems is cheap alcohol and getting wasted on the beach. Such a shame.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 9, 2014, 3:40 am

      True story…

      Reply
  • ardun January 8, 2014, 5:39 am

    Interesting post guys. I also think it depends on the location as to what kind of traveller you will find. We found South America didn’t have many of these ‘drinkpacker’ types as there were more adventure sports around like hiking etc. Once we got up to Central America and the warm weather there was a lot more of the type of traveller who just drinks every night. And I must say in these warm climates it can be hard to resist at times too but a traveller should always be respectful of the locals and the fact you are in their community. It is a shame these travellers have ruined some beautiful places and given westerners a bad name, namely Kuta in Bali and parts of Thailand.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 9, 2014, 3:40 am

      I guess the problem occurs mostly in Asia. It’s hot here, cheap and people feel unstoppable.

      Reply
  • Noelfy January 8, 2014, 8:45 am

    The beginning of this post reminds me to a German lady in the middle 50’s that I meet in Hong Kong last year. She was telling me when she used to travel 30 years ago, it took her 3 months to reach Hong Kong first time. That day only a couple of hours. Before it was no internet or international calls. She had to write letter to her mum to let her know that she was alive.
    We are changing with the new technologies and losing part of the “innocence” of the former backpackers.
    Still, it makes it a personal internal trip for everyone.
    But yes, I will ban travel for people who not respect the local customs, no matter which name they use to call themselves!!!!!!! :X

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 9, 2014, 3:39 am

      Great story Noelia! So true, we do really change with the new technology, sometimes it’s not a good change though.

      Reply
  • Pedro January 8, 2014, 9:16 am

    It’s sad to say, but this is the main reason I cancelled a trip to Thailand last year. The thought of bumping into these drunken made me shiver! I’d love to be around genuine locals, but as many of us have experienced, in some places they got used to the drunk kids and as a result have little respect for Westerners – our fault, really, rather than locals’. In recent months I’ve been called a “traveller” by many people and, although too broad a name, I think it describes most of us who like more than just party.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 9, 2014, 3:38 am

      Reall? That’s really bad. Sorry to hear that :(…

      Reply
  • Jonny Blair January 8, 2014, 9:36 am

    Great reflective post here Agness! I never really thought of a way to describe a backpacker. For me backpacking is about putting on a backpack and heading out into the world to explore. I had no idea that the term backpacker these days is associated with people who drink and party abroad with other backpackers. If that’s the case, then I don’t want to be classed with them!! I don’t want to do that!! I’ve most recently gone backpacking to places like Nagorno Karabakh, Iraq, Iran and Azerbaijan. To me that should be the real backpacking – heading off into the sunset with a backpack and your camera. To places where there are likely to be no other backpackers! Be interesting to see other people’s opinions and comments. Safe travels. Jonny

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 9, 2014, 3:38 am

      Not every backpacker is associated with drinking and partying abroad with other backpackers, but the majority of them, especially whose who travel in Asia.

      Reply
  • Becky Padmore January 8, 2014, 10:48 am

    Very good point, I remember using the term ‘backpacker’ in an interview I once did and it actually offended the person I was writing about! Still not sure what the best term to replace it is though as everyone has their own distinctive travelling styles.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 9, 2014, 3:36 am

      Same here Becky!

      Reply
  • Hitch-Hikers Handbook January 8, 2014, 11:35 am

    You are absolutely right in everything you wrote here. Great post, Agness!

    People love labelling themselves and even more so if they do something considered counter-culture or not mainstream. I’ve noticed that more and more people call themselves “digital nomads” nowadays, as the term “backpacker” is getting slightly less trendy.

    Things are also changing in the world of hitchhiking. Fifty years ago it was much more difficult to know where to stand to catch a lift as there was no HitchWiki, obviously, but on the other hand there were less motorways and people were generally more open towards this form of travelling… or at least this is what all the hitchhiking veterans we meet on the road say.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 9, 2014, 3:36 am

      Yes, everything’s changing nowadays. I really hate labeling, but it’s so true in most cases…

      Reply
  • Franca January 8, 2014, 11:57 am

    I can see this article be in the middle of an heated conversation. I have to agree with you that the way backpackers travel nowadays is completely different, information is available everywhere online so it’s super easy to travel. A lot of people only like partying I agree with you, but there are many others (like myself for instance) that really enjoy discovering the local culture, experience it, look for hidden gems and so obvious spots. I think we are travellers no matter how and what we look for.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 9, 2014, 3:35 am

      I can totally relate France. I also really enjoy discovering the local culture, experience it, look for hidden gems and so obvious spots :).

      Reply
  • Marysia @ My Travel Affairs January 8, 2014, 12:09 pm

    Agness I’m sure that more than few already call ‘backpackers’ ‘drinkpackers’! LOL

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 9, 2014, 3:34 am

      LOL!

      Reply
  • Sam January 8, 2014, 12:15 pm

    This is a very interesting post. I visited Vang Vieng in Laos a couple of years ago and absolutely hated it. I don’t really get why people would travel half way around the world to get drunk and/or high, but if that’s what they want to do, at least they shouldn’t damage the local environment and make it an uncomfortable place for the locals to live.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 9, 2014, 3:33 am

      I feel so sorry for the locals living in Van Vieng…

      Reply
  • santafetraveler January 8, 2014, 4:28 pm

    I don’t think “tramp” will catch on. I think there are still some old-style backpackers out there. And just as many other terms evolve- perhaps this one has, too. If you travel with a pack on your back and no other luggage- I think you are sill a backpacker.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 9, 2014, 3:33 am

      Sure they are! I met a few, epic people!

      Reply
  • Mike | Earthdrifter January 8, 2014, 5:46 pm

    Drives me a tiny bit nuts when people assume I want a beer because I am a traveler. It is another way for them to profit off of something though. I I tend to drink once in a while, almost always spontaneously when I come across the right people somewhere. I do think it is awesome to try local specialities. For example Pisco in Peru, or deep, dark and rich red wine in Spain or the south of South America. As for the word backpacker, I am hoping that ‘earthdrifter’ will catch on and maybe even be in the dictionary one of these years. :-)

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 9, 2014, 3:33 am

      I know! There are some backpacking stereotypes I hate as well!

      Reply
  • IndieTraveller Marek January 8, 2014, 5:58 pm

    Interesting thoughts :) I do think it would be nice to have a distinction between travelling ONLY to party and travelling to have a travel experience.

    But let’s also not glorify the past. Those trail-blazing hippies in the 70s may have established ‘true backpacking’… but they also very much went to countries where pot and other substances were easily available. Kind of like a party backpacker looking for cheap booze, right?

    And did they always eat the local food? Nope… that’s where the term Banana Pancake Trail came from.

    Personally, I find myself having a schizophrenic existence on the trail. I am very much excited by the idea of experiencing other cultures, exploring, and doing something meaningful, and I pursue those things often. But then I also end up in a bucket bar every now and then. Partying for me is not the goal of travelling, but after days or weeks of serious travel I also seriously need to let loose a bit.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 9, 2014, 2:13 am

      Marek, I totally agree with having a distinction between travelling ONLY to party and travelling to have a travel experience. Thanks for sharing, really interesting thoughts.

      Reply
  • Stefania @The Italian Backpacker January 8, 2014, 6:51 pm

    “Drinkpacker” really is the right name for them! I shiver at the idea of meeting some: they look so silly to me! I love the idea of travelling independently on the cheap and meet other travellers. I think that’s the essence of the original “backpacking” experience. It’s just so bad that people are doing gap years just to say ‘I have been to Laos, or Thailand’, but make little effort to respect and to get to know the culture. I think I would feel out of place in a place like Vang Vieng.

    Reply
  • Mike January 8, 2014, 8:40 pm

    I’ve never traveled cross country or through a country with a backpack. But, I did do a lot backpacking in the back country many years ago. What boggles my mind is all of the light weight gear and equipment you guys are now able to take with you! Good post, Agness. Love the JD t-shirt, Cez! :)

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 9, 2014, 2:12 am

      I know Mike, but we still prefer to travel lite, no matter what.

      Reply
  • Kiara Gallop January 8, 2014, 10:34 pm

    Into The Wild is one of my favourite films, but it’s also one that always manages to bring a tear to my eye. You make some very valid points here about the definition of the term “backpacker”. Intrepid travellers who immerse themselves in the local culture and embrace the change of environment, culture, and lifestyle are still out there but they are becoming a much rarer breed amongst those who call themselves backpackers. Nowadays anyone who travels with a backpack seems to be classed as a backpacker. Sometimes when I travel I feel embarrassed to be a Westerner. I have met a lot of ‘backpackers’ who spend their days and nights at their local hostel, drinking the local beer because they are ‘on a budget’. Yet it costs money to drink beer, money which in my opinion would be better spent catching a local bus to a local market and interacting with the locals. I agree with Ardun in that it does depend on which area you travel to as to what kind of treveller, or ‘backpacker’ you find, but things are definitely changing.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 9, 2014, 2:11 am

      I know this feeling Kiara when you feel embarrassed to be a Westerner. It happens to me quite often in China and during my Asia travels.

      Reply
  • Nicholas January 9, 2014, 7:19 am

    Perhaps we’re looking at backpacking in the past with rose-tinted glasses, but you’re spot on about the impact that the party bunch has had on developing societies.

    The drinkpackers do what they do because they can party irresponsibly and get away with it thousands of miles from home. Think of it this way and you realise that such people can come from anywhere and can be found everywhere, including Europe, and in large enough numbers they make the atmosphere really unpleasant. It’s their choice, not ours to make, but not enough people realise the consequences of their choices.

    I’m still alright with being called a backpacker, however. It still connotes frugality (and I try to be as frugal as possible on the road without compromising my physical well-being), and I don’t feel the need to create a new category to distance myself from the party bunch.

    Reply
  • Lunaguava January 9, 2014, 3:08 pm

    Although we still consider ourselves backpackers (because, well, we have backpacks and all), our mindset couldn’t be more different than the partygoers we’ve met in SE Asia and Central America. Those drunken buffoons (SE Asia was definitely the worst) were what inspired me to create our uninspirational quotes post – got tired of seeing backpackers wax poetic about “Explore. Dream. Discover” and then just make fools of themselves by only exploring the various alcoholic concoctions available. As you say, it’s the attitude – disrespectful, to say the least. The locals suffer because they see their native land wrecked by partygoers and other travelers suffer because they start being perceived as walking ATMs. I know I’m sounding like a grumpy old man, but it saddens me to see the devastating effects of mass drinkpackers, particularly in developing countries. There have always been people going to sunny destinations in search of a good time (those backpackers of yore weren’t all conscientious adventurers), but the issue is that there’s just so many these days… Great post, kudos! Good luck and safe travels!

    Reply
  • Adventures with Pedro January 9, 2014, 8:14 pm

    It’s true we can lament the past or we can recognize that each generation longs for the ideals and environment it believes came before. The are so many places, even where the drinkers are, left to explore, we just have to put down our lonely Planet, go out and find them

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 10, 2014, 8:21 am

      Love the way you think Pedro! So true!

      Reply
  • Jessica January 10, 2014, 2:40 am

    Really interesting post! It feels like the shift has been a slow one, but we’ve definitely reached a point where heavy drinking seems to be associated with being a backpacker. It’s unfortunate that a lot of countries are bending to the desires of backpackers (offering Western food, Western-style bars etc.), rather than backpackers working to immerse themselves in the countries they’re traveling to. At the risk of sounding pretentious, I try to avoid calling myself anything. If I give myself a label, it creates this need to live up to the image of that label, and I don’t want to feel that pressure.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 10, 2014, 8:20 am

      I totally agree Jessica. I don’t want to feel that pressure either.

      Reply
  • Jessica Wray January 10, 2014, 11:08 am

    I can understand a short trip to a tropical destination with friends where people would want to spend most of it partying. These people shouldn’t be calling themselves backpackers, even if they brought all their clothes in one! And while I can’t blame these people, it still has a negative effect on the locals.. :/

    Since travel has become something I do frequently, the last thing I want to do is go out every night. Sometimes, I don’t even want to be expected to be social!

    I’m not creative enough at the moment to think of another name, so I guess I’ll just have to be a tramp too :)

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 12, 2014, 12:25 am

      True Jessica. I totally agree!

      Reply
  • Tim January 10, 2014, 12:31 pm

    I agree with everything you wrote Agness, and a lot of the comments too. I don’t think the average modern “backpacker” (note the quotation marks!!) is a particularly open-minded person, or culturally sensitive; but then were they ever? Maybe foreigners were always getting ugly-drunk in Southeast Asia and taking culturally-inappropriate photos in front of Buddha statues, but now there are so many more people travelling, and it’s so eel-documented through all forms of media. I’m really not sure – maybe it’s partly rose-coloured glasses, and maybe it’s true!!

    Either way, it’s not nice, and for many people who don’t fit into that ideal, “backpacker” has become almost a dirty word. I was determined never to travel with a backpack, even before I first went overseas at the age of 20, simply to avoid being stereotyped as a “backpacker”. I travelled with a suitcase, and actually developed a liking for it – I still travel with one! But I refer to myself a “traveller” (and occasionally a “citizen of the world” – I’m only partly joking!!). I think that fairly describes what it is I am and what I do. I still wouldn’t call myself a backpacker, because I’m still travelling with my case (I love it!) and I am distinct from the large hoardes of people who ARE referred to (rightly/wrongly/for better/for worse) as “backpackers”!! :D

    Reply
  • Constance - Foreign Sanctuary January 10, 2014, 1:24 pm

    Interesting read! I don’t really care about the specific name, but I agree with you regarding the attitude of some younger folks drinking and partying their way through SE Asia. Personally, I feel they are not interested in learning and experiencing the culture. Khao San Rd. in Bangkok is proof of that! But with that being said, there are a large majority of people who really, truly want to immerse themselves in the culture of a place and you can usually pinpoint those type of people as well!!

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 12, 2014, 12:24 am

      So true Constance, thanks for sharing! Backpacking always fails in Bangkok… :)

      Reply
  • Jess @UsedYorkCity January 10, 2014, 6:51 pm

    I agree that the term “backpacking” brings up a certain image: hostels, alcohol, and gap years are the top 3 words that pop into my mind. I associate backpackers with being of the younger generation (30 and below), and anyone doing similar things after that…a vagabond perhaps? Absolutely nothing wrong with not setting up roots, but I agree that they should hopefully be adding more to the communities they’re visiting and spending time in than just empty Jack Daniels bottles and bad impressions:-)

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 12, 2014, 12:23 am

      I often use the term vagabond and adventure hunter and people are like “What!? Who are you?” :)

      Reply
  • Anna January 10, 2014, 10:06 pm

    I think with the new generation of backpackers there is becoming a positive transformation and evolution to what I consider “Poshpackers”. We like to think of them as more respectful, boutique-minded, creative independent travelers with a larger budget, who appreciate quality, design and social + local interaction. #Poshpacker

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 12, 2014, 12:22 am

      Hey Anna! I’m not familiar with the term of “poshpackers” but I’ll add it to my travel dictionary.

      Reply
  • Stefania @The Italian Backpacker January 11, 2014, 11:30 am

    About “poshpackers”: I don’t hide the fact that I’m looking for a hostel on-line I pay attention to design and style. The name “poshpacker” sounds irritating, though.

    It sounds like this “drinkpacker” attitude is restricted to South East Asia. I have seen some of them only in restricted parts of Europe, and they tend to stick to a few hostels. It’s not that people travelling with a backpack or exploring freely (even without a backpack) shouldn’t call themselves backpackers, but these drinkpackers should stop to call themselves backpackers or even travellers!

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 12, 2014, 12:19 am

      Stefania, to be honest, I have never heard of the term “poshpacker” and I must admit it does a bit negative.

      Reply
  • Stefania @The Italian Backpacker January 11, 2014, 2:42 pm

    I found this article on Vang Vieng. The questions they raise are very interesting and important. In my opinion, it’s the same mechanism that keeps the long-neck tribe from Myanmar in northern Thailand. The government isn’t likely to do anything, as long as it’s so lucrative for the country to have this kind of tourism.

    http://travel.cnn.com/explorations/life/vang-vieng-backpacker-heaven-or-tourist-hell-994621

    Reply
  • Tamara January 12, 2014, 10:39 pm

    It always makes us sad to see people (not always young) who focus solely on being drunk and disorderly on their travels. They are wasting time they could be learning, sharing and giving back to the places they’re visiting. Some may say live and let live, but it seems truly disrespectful to both the places/people visited and anyone else in the general area. In many cases there is a true danger to those involved by being so out of control too. There are so many healthier ways to have fun. Anyway, the planet is still filled with amazing places to explore, and avoiding those who don’t share the same passion and priorities you do is possible. Try and surround yourself with people of like interests and keep focusing on the positive!

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 13, 2014, 7:01 am

      Same here. We often feel so embarrassed and ashamed of being Westerners :(!

      Reply
  • Deia @ Nomad Wallet January 13, 2014, 3:13 am

    I think I’m more of a flashpacker because I need all my gadgets with me and I need a little comfort when I travel. Backpackers aren’t the only party people though, there are those Aussies on bachelor parties in Bali too. *shudder* I guess it’s a broader term than it used to be, but that’s the way language is, it will evolve with the times.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 13, 2014, 7:00 am

      I believe I’m a kind of a flashpacker as well. Can’t travel without my electronics :).

      Reply
  • yara coelho January 13, 2014, 8:03 am

    I’ve always been an old school backpacker, but for most of the times without a backpack (I can’t remember how I carried my cloths ’cause till now I don’t own a backpack).

    I’ve traveled without any technology till the very end of 2013, and in many cases no camera because I couldn’t afford to develop the photos (so the very few old ones I have I cherish like gold).

    When I travel, I tend to avoid the flocks of tourists at all costs and I don’t identify with the flashpackers at all. People who spend too much of their traveling time on FB, twitter and so on make me wonder why the heck do they even go somewhere if all they do is being online…?

    Reply
  • Jeremy Foster January 13, 2014, 8:53 am

    I got so frustrated in Southeast Asia and couldn’t even handle being around other backpackers for some of the time, even though I am one. The focus was on partying and occasionally getting out to see some things. Getting treated like one of these stereotypical backpackers by the locals is even worse, especially in places like Vang Vieng. The state of travel in the countries you mentioned really needs to change.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 14, 2014, 2:02 am

      Had the same feelings when travelling and living in Cambodia and Thailand… :(

      Reply
  • Amanda @ Farsickness January 13, 2014, 9:09 am

    I bet a lot of the backpackers of yesteryear were also engaging in a lot of drinking and drug use on the road but because there were a lot fewer travelers (because of the difficulties and cost of getting places, like you mentioned) and they didn’t (couldn’t) plaster the photos of themselves shit faced on Khao San Road on the Internet, it’s not as obvious.

    But I completely agree with you on the lack of respect and interest in other cultures that permeates the backpacking crowd today. I stayed at a hostel in Siem Reap that was a lot of fun, but I swear half the people never even left the grounds except to see the Angkor sunrise one morning. I like to have the occasional big night out when I’m on the road, but it’s definitely not an everyday thing and don’t think it should be the sole focus of someone’s reasons for traveling.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 14, 2014, 2:02 am

      So true Amanda!

      Reply
  • NZ Muse January 13, 2014, 9:02 pm

    If we’re labelling things, we’re probably flashpackers – mid 20s, not partiers, not trying to save a buck at any cost, but still on a budget and still with our backpacks!

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 14, 2014, 1:58 am

      Good point!

      Reply
  • [email protected] January 13, 2014, 9:53 pm

    Hi Agness, this is quite an interesting read. I agree that those party-ers are giving “backpackers” a bad name. I don’t think there is a a need to change the name. Backpackers for me are real travelers, who want to learn about and to immerse in whatever culture they travel to. And there’s still a lot of real backpackers out there. If people travel just to party and without any regards to other’s culture, then they do not fall into backpackers category. They are exactly what you say they are – “drinkpackers.”

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 14, 2014, 1:57 am

      Thank you Marisol for speaking your mind. I guess “drinkpackers” is a good name for these who do not appreciate locals’ hospitality and drink way too much! :)

      Reply
  • PassportDave January 14, 2014, 4:10 pm

    I must agree that the term ‘backpacker’ has seriously changed over the years.

    I hear the term and think back to the movies of an odd traveler looking to go where no other of his countrymen have ever been before. To experience not only the poverty and destruction in so many developing countries but also the kindness and open hearts of the locals. To truly get in touch with the world and learn what it means to stop labeling yourself as one nationality or another and simply understand what it means to be human.

    OR, as more common in modern times,

    It is the image of a group of friends who look up ‘backpacker’ on the internet to discover the well trodden path of such places as Bangkok, Koh Pi Pi, Hanoi, Vang Vieng, etc… and decide to go and drink more than any man has ever drank before to see if they can still escape the risk and troubles that are bound to ensue.

    Not saying these places are all bad though. I have been living in Chiang Mai for a bit now and absolutely love it. Sure there are plenty of disrespectful drunks but there is still plenty to discover. A quick chat with some locals away from the old city area and you quickly discover just how much the city is still unique and traditional even with all the crazy tourism.

    In the end, though, I think the easiest course of action to truly get that ‘backpacker’ feel in modern times is to simply avoid any destination that you have heard of before. Go to a small village in the middle of nowhere and get lost in the culture :)

    Happy Travels.

    Reply
  • Jules January 16, 2014, 3:08 am

    Mmm I have to say that this is one of the things I have been slightly worried about travelling through SE Asia, after Australia and New Zealand where the prices are prohibitively high. I guess I’ll see, but I’m expecting the worse!

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder January 17, 2014, 1:57 am

      Where there is a will, there is a way. SE Asia is so cheap, nothing to worry about!!

      Reply
  • Ivaan January 22, 2014, 5:56 am

    Very Informative points. It is very important to know about Backpacker. Thanks :)

    Reply

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