It’s no revelation to anyone back home that returned backpackers can be complete asshats. Even if you’ve been there done that, listening to someone talk about being there and doing that is just a bit bloody much. Before going away, in my mind travellers come home regaling everyone who will listen, and everyone who wont, with a story better than any you have. Tales about sharks they fought off with just an old flip flop, the number of drugs consumed while trying to match a shamen as the biggest drug fiend of all, or the number of nights spent awake partying under full moons that are better than any you have ever seen. However what I have encountered is a far more eye-rolling boast – who can spend the least money.
I don’t just mean that everyone who quits their jobs or goes on a gap year is a tosser, only that there is a very specific snobreity that comes with the whole package. There seems to be levels of respected backpackers and at the top of this pile, above the party mad and thrill seekers, is the spendthrift. Spending as little money as they can now seems to be the ultimate goal of several people who have left the western world for the trip of a lifetime. However, most people travel because they don’t want to think about the capitalist bastards back at home deciding where you should spend your money. Why not really stick it to the man and spend it all on the fucking best time ever – and not boasting about living off some ‘surprisingly edible’ weevils for six months.
Prior to travelling myself this might not have seemed such an odd mentality to have. Why wouldn’t you want to spend as little as possible and travel for as long as possible? But at the same time, don’t you also want to have the best time you can and that, on the odd occasion, splashing the cash isn’t going to ruin your trip, but in fact enhance it?
I think secretly everyone travelling in the similar price bracket as us knows this, but what I don’t understand is the fear of saying it. I can’t believe I would think less of someone for spending £20 on a camel safari with a night in the desert, where as I might think someone was a bit mad to turn it down for the sake of a few more nights beyond reality further down the line. I’m not saying spend it all on hotels and fancy restaurants and strippers, it just seems a relatively strange badge of honour amongst people who have worked hard in order to get away and enjoy themselves.
Rant over. Almost.
I’ve always been aware of money and never more so than when travelling. In all likelihood someone, somewhere is going to cheat you out of some cash but you know what mate, carpe diem and yolo 4 life, how about not making the next person feel bad for falling for it, karma is a bitch and you’re next. It’s really hard to budget and avoid scams and just keep going while the money trickles through your fingers at a sometimes scary rate (normally after a night out), but this is where I want to spend my money, doing and seeing and eating things I ain’t never done before. So if you want to boast about spending seven pence in three years in Cambodia then go ahead, but I’m sure that maybe it might have been slightly more fulfilling if you hadn’t spent all your time thinking about where you were saving your pennies, rather than where you could be spending them.