From binge drinking goon (I hate goon) up the east coast of Australia, to being eternally drunk in Queenstown New Zealand. Or drinking buckets at full moon parties and Island hops around South East Asia, bar crawls all over Europe to cheap mezcal and tequila in central and South America. Backpacks and booze come hand in hand for many; the backpacker party culture is all around us.
This backpacker party culture post dives into why and where It’s so prevalent and how you can fall into it even if you don’t think you will
(If you are judgemental other styles of traveling other than your own, look down your nose at others this post will have NO relevance to you)
The truth is, there are not many backpackers of any age, that can say they haven’t been part of or seen the backpacker party culture at some point in their backpacking life. There will have been an occasion (or many) they got involved in a backpacker hostel party or danced the night away locals somewhere in the world. Most backpackers will have some boozy memory to look back on from at least one of their trips.
Like it or not…
The backpacker party culture is very real.
There are those who get very excited about the prospect of traveling the world, going on adventures, discovering new places, living out dreams and partying hard as they do so. They feel free, are having the time of their lives and living their lives how they want to.
Then there are those who coff at the notion, turn their heads stating they do not travel to party, they travel for the culture, history, discovering new lands. They profess that they are not backpackers, and do not party. Generally speaking those that say that are short term travelers who travel for a few weeks or a couple of months at a time.
They don’t have the time to do anything other than what their lonely planet book or TripAdvisor, or heavily crammed itinerary tells them. Yet they are the ones who judge the most. That is travel snobbery right there.
Embrace it or not It’s your choice but don’t judge those that do
Different people have different interests, there are going to be those of you who love to party and will fall straight into it, there will be those who deny it, and there will be those of you who just don’t like to party, get wasted or even drink – That is fine whichever way you fall – but nobody has the right to judge anybody else on how they travel.
Of course near enough everybody who leaves home to backpack around the world, to a certain country or region does it for the experience. To experience something new, new cultures, a lifestyle or environments, to see and do things they’ve dreamt about. But for a lot of young backpackers It’s the freedom and It’s an excuse.
In most likeliness somewhere along the line those that deny the backpacker party culture to even exist are more than likely to fall into while but too ashamed to admit it. They are the first to judge those that do like to party. (I’ve traveled long term for over a decade, roaming from country to country and seen it plenty of times)
Why is the backpacker party culture so prevalent?
The simple fact is and It’s not rocket science – People like to party, they like to get drunk and or high, enjoy themselves, let loose, they like to have escapism and just because they can.
Sometimes a big deal is made out the fact that people have traveled to different parts of the world ‘just to party’ – so what?
Partying is ingrained in so many peoples lives, growing up most of us partied, we go to different countries and cultures and they like to party. Traveling is all about freedom of choice to do as you wish, and there should be no shame in that.
It’s amusing that much of the time partying while traveling is pointed and directed to young gap year travelers who sometimes see traveling as an extension of college life, or those who never went to college and that party hostel is their college experience. That might be true for some, but here’s the thing a lot of older, experienced travelers love to party too.
Partying is a big part of the whole traveling experience.
6 reasons you may fall into the backpacker party
Ok, lets have a look how and why it could happen to you in the future.
In this backpacker party culture post we’re going to break it down and give you more of an understanding of how, why, and where you can fall into and find yourself engrossed in the backpacker party culture – even if you’re not a backpacker.
- Party hostels
- Backpacker areas
- Party heavy destinations
- Tour companies using parties to entice
- Local cultures
My personal experiences of the backpacker party culture
I like to party, always have but before my first ever trip in 2010 with all the research there was no heads up about the backpacker party culture. All the information provided was about the things I’d see and do. However within the first hour of arriving in Sydney, settling into my hostel, which I knew from research was a social hostel but no idea what a party hostel everything became irrelevant.
I had made my first friend, cracked open my first beer and the rest is history. I realised the Funkhouse hostel was a party hostel and I felt at home.
I loved it, I was partying all the time, creating amazing memories, making lifelong friends, having the time of my life and felt free for the first time in my life. I would not change a minute of that experience. In that hostel we partied so much we had a 24/7 rotation going.
- Those who worked through the night in bars and clubs would be partying in the hostel first thing in the morning along with those that stayed up through the night
- Those that didn’t have jobs would get started through the morning
- The ones that had day jobs would join in after work in the afternoon or early evening
- Day drinkers would fade away and the night crowd joined in
- A hostel rep would take new guests on pub crawls
- Those that had been there for a while would stay or go to different bars
- Everybody would return to carry on partying in the hostel into the early hours
- Those who had to work in the morning would fade away
- Those who worked through the night in bars and clubs would return and continue partying in the hostel thing in the morning with those that stayed up through the night
- And thus the rotation would continue
It was as if we took shifts to keep the party rotation going. At any point day or night you could dip in and out. Put it this way you could be a new guest, or eating breakfast, come back from an excursion or ready to go bed and the party would be in full swing.
Now you may find it crazy, be horrified or even excited by the notion of the rotation but we were having the time of our lives. There were guests who were horrified and left the hostel vowing never to return yet months later they did. They would state the atmosphere and energy that we created in this hostel was never matched. Many of those who were first disgusted by us and retuned and seamlessly slipped into the backpacker party culture we maintained in the hostel.
Over the years there have been plenty other hostels where I’ve been ingrained in the backpacker party culture, but that has got less the older I’ve got; my liver can’t really take too much now.
The backpacker party culture starts in Party hostels
There are different types of hostels to suit everybody’s personality, but the party hostel gets the most attention.
It is where the craziness really happens, guests are welcomed sometimes with a drink, encouraged to party. Parties are constant, can get insanely wild – and anything and everything can happen. Generally party hostels attract a younger crowd, first time travelers but don’t be surprised to see older more experienced travelers who love to party there too.
As there are different types of hostels there are different types of party hostels too:
- With a bar or more attached or belonging to the hostel itself
- Partnerships with local bars where you get discounted alcohol
- Allow you to bring your own alcohol in and party in the hostel
There are some basic rules to adhere to in party hostels, but they are normally very relaxed and anything and everything can happen inside them. Do not expect to get much sleep, so no expect much comfort and they can get a little grotty.
The party doesn't stop
A party hostel will always entice and encourage you to party, they are very, very social and can involve:
- Nightly or weekly Pub crawls
- Events nights
- BBQ nights with a party to follow
- Drinking games – card games, beer pong, quizzes, etc
- Open bar nights/ happy hour specials/ discounts
- Special organised parties/ fancy dress/ public holiday/ local events
- Drinking tournaments/ championships
Party hostels are great places to make friends though. Most the guests will be there for the same reasons and most likely have similar interests. Although you can make friends in other types of hostels It can be very easy in party hostels.
Although party hostels are where they are constant, that’s not to say parties don’t happen in other types of hostels too. Get the right crowd in and a party can pop up in an instant in any hostel. A quiet beer can turn into drinking a keg upside down in nothing but your underwear.
A part from liver damage there are a few downsides to party hostels, which are hard to see whilst in that environment but:
- It can get very intense in one – almost like your sucked into a whirlwind
- You can forget you are there to travel
- You get sucked into the hostel bubble and inevitably into the hostel trap
- You can blow all you money on partying (I’m a prime example of it on numerous occasions)
- When the time comes for people to leave it can be a sucker punch
- You don’t actually get much rest
- Constantly hungover or on comedowns
- Lack of motivation to do anything
- Unhealthy mentally and physically
- You lose focus on anything else outside the hostel walls – that is your world nothing else matters
- Alcohol poisoning, overdosing, liver poisoning
The party hostel is more than likely situated in the backpacker area.
Just as most places have tourist zones, built up areas just for hotels there is more than likely to be a backpacker area. What’s one of those? It’s a condensed area full of hostels, cheap bars and cheap eateries in an effort to entice and keep the budget traveler and backpackers in one area.
Backpacker areas are everywhere where tourism is prevalent. It could be just a small street or it can be its own mini village with its own micro society.
Backpacker party destinations
The backpacker party culture is not just limited to party hostels and backpacker areas, there are destinations that entice you to party all over the world. Pre-Covid tourism general and backpacking was growing by the day and many countries, cities, towns and Islands would entice them to their destination.
They gear and package themselves to entice travelers enticing them with the wildest parties, craziest bars, and clubs all trying to outdo each other.
- The Kings Cross in Sydney, the once notorious golden mile full of backpacker bars and hostels was a major party destination and tourist area (although that has changed now)
- The route up the East coast of Australia
- Queenstown in New Zealand
- Khao San Road in Bangkok is a major party destination in Thailand
- Phuket and The southern Islands of Thailand
- Langkawi in Malaysia
- Pub Street, Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Ho chi Min Vietnam
- Bali, Indonesia especially around Kuta, Legion, Seminyak and Canggu
- The Philippines is one of the most famous backpacker party destinations in the world, (Boracay, El Nido, other Island hopping booze cruises)
- Almost all European Cities, (Too many party destinations to list)
- The Gringo trail in Central America
- Puerto Escondido, Cancun, Playa Del Carmen in Mexico are popular party destinations
- Kay Caulker in Belize
- The famous Sunday funday pub crawl in Nicaragua,
- Medellin, Bogota, Santa Marta in Colombia all promote and entice you with partying
- Any beach in the world where there is music and alcohol flowing
I could sit and real off so many other destinations around the world that cater, entice and promote the backpacker party culture.
It’s not just the mainland either, there are islands all over the world renowned for parties, festivals and occasions. Nowadays there any excuse to party.
Tour companies know about the backpacker party culture & promote it
It’s all about the money for backpacker tour companies, and to sweeten the deal for you to choose their tours and excursions over others; comes that promise of an amazing party.
They entice you with:
- Alcohol vouchers
- Discounts to bars if you book through them
- Tours including parties
- Party boat cruises
- Party on a boat while Island hopping
- Party after the tour/excursion is over
- Party buses
- Travel and party at the same time type tours
- Invites to their own parties
Here’s a few examples of tours and how they entice you throughout the world:
- Want to go out to the Whitsundays in Australia, well pick which party boat you want to spend 3 nights a party boat?
- Go Island hopping around those Paradise South East Asian Islands on a booze cruise?
- Climb a volcano or hike a mountain in Central America and there will be a party waiting at the end of it.
- Go deep into the jungle, just past that magical waterfall you’ll find a rave organised by the tour company
These types of tours happen all over the world
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Get a deeper insight into the party culture of a long term traveler in my debut long-term solo travel book written to help your future travels
Local cultures love to party
It’s not uncommon to be in a country that loves any excuse to party. Backpackers, travelers tourists, all get sucked into the energy created by a culture that loves nothing more than to party.
You could be walking down the street, minding your own business, sightseeing and come across:
- A street party
- Local events
- Cultural events leading to a party
- A culture that just loves to party
- A special day of the year for them
- An independence party
- A cultural gathering (street wedding, or other celebrations)
Sometimes they just happen because somebody felt like it and backpackers who love to party do not need a second invite.
Boredom leads to partying
For long term travelers there are days where there is nothing to do, days where you can’t be bothered to do anything and days you just feel like getting drunk or high and or party.
You may even start off with the intention just to have a couple of drinks, but then all of a sudden you are embroiled in a full blown party. Alcohol can be the quickest fix for boredom and many impromptu parties have started from it.
Partying can lead to creating ever lasting friendships
Sometimes you cannot underestimate the power the backpacker party culture can have on a traveler, especially a first time traveler.
It’s one of the easiest ways to feel comfortable, to lose inhibitions, lose the nerves and to settle and adapt to traveling life.
It’s also one of the easiest and quickest ways to make friends. Before you get involved in the party, you might be just strangers with the people you meet but by the end you will have made new friends. Not always but in general life long friends can be born from partying with someone, bonds can be created.
There are so many occasions over the years I’ve met people on a day to day basis but once we have gone our separate ways we’ve lost touch. However many of the people I’ve partied with over the years I’ve still got a connection or friendship with.
- Most of the people I partied with on my very first day as a traveler in 2010 remain friends today
- A person I met on the doorstep of my hostel after partying the night away remains a very good friend today
- Accidently bumping into someone and ending up partying the night away in Portugal with local led to a tight bond that lasts to this day
- After getting drunk with someone in New Zealand led to the chance of working and living in Bali 3 years later
This list could go on and on.
You might just fall into the backpacker party culture – And like it!
Before you travel, while you read this you may have shook your head saying it will not happen to you – but guess what you do not know if it will until you are in the environment and that is a traveling reality.
Hopefully this post has given you a bigger insight into how the party backpacker culture lives and breaths all around us all over the world and how backpackers like to party.
It’s important to note this isn’t the only way to be a backpacker, many of you may not drink or like to actually party; that’s fine. Just know it is all around you.
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