traveling life - backpacks and booze

Traveling life – backpacks and booze is part 5 of my traveling realism’s series.

Traveling life – Backpacks and booze…Go hand in hand!

Who can honestly say that they’ve been backpacking/traveling and not been part of a drunken hostel party or partied the night away with locals? Or know somebody who has?

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From binge drinking goon (I hate goon) up the east coast of Australia, being eternally drunk in Queenstown, drinking buckets at full moon party’s (or any excuse for a rave) in Thailand to cheap mescal and tequila in central and South America. I’ve seen and been part of it all around the world over the last 6 years. Like it or not drinking and partying is a big part of traveling life and in some cases part of local culture.

Don’t travel to party.

Some of you may shake your head at this, some may even turn your nose at this, you may be saying “My traveling life is to experience new cultures and to see places not to party” or “Why would you travel to party, that’s just stupid”.

That’s fine if you only travel to see things or to explore new cultures. You may just be traveling for a specific reason or limited time before you have to leave.

The truth is most of us who don’t have time-frames, the backpackers, the nomads, the long-term travelers amongst us; the majority of us, we like to party as much we experience new countries, cultures or see and do things.

Yes, of course we all travel to see the things we’ve dreamt of, experience new cultures and lands with our own eyes, to revisit history, to explore jungles and dwell on sun-kissed paradise beaches. However, side by side with all this, backpackers as a whole like to party like there is no tomorrow; it is a part of traveling life.

Partying comes first.

traveling life - backpacks and booze

No matter where in the world you travel, you will come across a group of backpackers/ long-term travelers who want to do nothing but party, for them this is traveling life! They couldn’t care-less about sight-seeing, visiting yet another temple or go an excursion. They would rather just get the party started early and have the time of their life with the people around them. I know about these types of backpackers because I’ve been one myself in the past.

Before anybody starts to judge, there’s many reason’s why these backpackers don’t want to do anything else but party. It could be that they’ve done all their traveling, they’ve seen everything they want to or maybe they are just having a blast with the people around them.

Something that get’s lost on people sometimes is traveling isn’t always just about the things you go to see, the monuments you visit. A large proportion of traveling is about the experience you have, the people you meet and the fun you have. There are times people get too wrapped up in just sight-seeing and doing things that they forget to have any fun, they forget to stop and enjoy themselves.

Places enticing you with booze and partying.

With tourism growing all over the world by the day, so many countries, islands, cities and towns cater towards backpackers and travelers. A large part of it is enticing travelers with partying.

Now before you say I’m talking out my ass, think about it, think to all the countries you’ve traveled too, all the places you want to go to. How many of these places have specific tourist areas and backpacker areas? How many of these tourist and backpacker areas are crammed with cheap bars, hostels and clubs?

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Some of these areas I’m talking about are world famous, places like the Kings Cross in Sydney, the once notorious golden mile full of backpacker bars and hostels was a major tourist area (although that has changed now). Queenstown in New Zealand is a whole town catered towards backpackers and tourists and entice partying all week-long. There’s Khao san road in Bangkok, Phuket, Pub street in Siem Reap Cambodia, Cancun and Playa Del Carmen in Mexico, the famous Sunday funday pub crawl in Nicaragua, Medellin in Colombia all promote and entice you with partying. It’s not just limited to areas either, you have whole party Islands all over the world, Ibiza, Mallorca, Ko Pha Ngan in Thailand famous for it’s full moon parties, The Gilli Islands all paradise islands but entice you partying.

travel life - backpacks and booze

These are just the ones I’ve been to and been part of, I’m sure there are countless others all over the world.

backpacker Hostels.

Walk into any backpacker hostel in the world, the first thing you will see is their notice boards and walls crammed of posters, leaflets and reminders of parties and drinks offers from local bars and clubs. Sometimes as you check in the receptionist will tell you about drink offers, bar nights, where the bars are located. Some will also offer discount cards for bars.

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It doesn’t matter if it’s a small quiet one or a bigger party hostel, most are very sociable places and drinking and partying brings people together. So many hostels even have an entertainments guy, who will organize hostel party nights and bar crawls on certain nights. Some hostels have their own bars which are open most hours of the day offering cut price drinks. If your hostel is located in the backpacker area, in most cases the hostel will be affiliated with one of the bars in area, you will also find bar reps visiting the hostel trying to entice you out for the night.

Tour companies.

It’s not just hostels but backpacker tour companies do the same thing, along with posters of tours and trips they will have posters of nights out, parties, boat cruises, some will even offer vouchers for cheaper drinks if you take up a tour with them. There are tours to places that include a party at the end or even during the trip; for example want to go out to the Whitsundays in Australia, well pick which party boat you want to spend 3 nights on and party as you head out there. Or those paradise Islands you want to visit in South East Asia, well party as you explore the Islands, want to explore that volcano, or go on a mountain hike, well there is a party waiting at the end of it.

There are backpacker tour companies that even have party nights in their tour shops, you get an invite if you take a tour with them or have done a trip with them in the past.

My first experience of it.

I have to admit, I was not ready nor was I expecting partying to be such a big part of my traveling life when I first started.

Like, I’m sure many of you who are looking to go on your first adventure I did all the research, I read blogs and thought I was prepared. I had researched and read blogs on all the things I wanted to do, the places I wanted to see and where I wanted to go but none of them had told me what to expect in between all that. None of my research had prepared me for what goes on everyday in between the sightseeing and tours.

Funkhouse backpackers hostel.

So don’t get me wrong, I didn’t go into it completely blind, I booked a sociable hostel in the heart of the Kings Cross in Sydney so I did know there would be some partying. However I didn’t know what a party hostel was in its entirety, I thought it would be a social hostel which partied over the weekend or something after all everybody is there to travel; I was wrong.

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From my very first night I met and instantly got along with some of the Long-termers in the hostel and I was exposed to a brand new world; a world of continuous rotation of partying. I have always been a guy that likes a party but this blew my mind. Over time I became a long-termer myself and I was completely ingrained in the party rotation; there were times I forgot I was in Australia to travel. This wasn’t just a sociable party hostel this was a 24/7 party hostel.

The rotation.

The rotation in this hostel went a little like this – Those who didn’t work and weren’t going on a trip for the day would start drinking and partying through the day. Those of us who did work, would come home after work and join in, by that time the day drinkers would start fading, we took over, the hostel rep would then take short-termers out on a pub crawl. those who worked in restaurants would then come home and join in, as people started to fade during the night, those who worked in clubs would come home at 4 or 5am and join in, then as the morning went on the day partying would wake and carry on the rotation.

Put it this way backpackers who were only staying for a few nights would wake up for breakfast and find a party in full swing.

Now you’re probably gob-smacked and even shocked by this, you’re probably saying “There is no way I could do this, this is way too much, I would hate to be in this hostel, sounds like a nightmare.”

Well, the funny thing is, people who would stay for a few days would leave so angry and pissed off at what happened here. However these same people would return at the end of their trips saying this was the best hostel they had stayed in. These same people who left pissed off the first time returned for a second stay because they wanted to be part of the unique atmosphere we had.

Continued experience of this.

It wasn’t just Australia, this partying traveling life goes on everywhere.

In New Zealand you will party your way through both Islands, when I lived in Queenstown we would actually get given drinks vouchers as an incentive for backpacker bars in the town.  Lets just say in an adrenaline pumped town famous for it’s adventure sports everyday was a party. Want to know more about Queenstown?

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Ask anybody who’s backpacked through South East Asia if they had a single sober day? South East Asia, in particular Thailand is of course famous for enticing backpackers with partying. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the over touristy Bangkok, on one of it’s many party Islands, along the coast or up north in the jungles there will be a party and rave going on.

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Does it stop in Central and South America? Of course not, in between the Mayan temples, jungles, mountains, and volcanoes I partied my way through to the Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia. Oh did I mention all the festivals and fiestas?

I could tell you stories for days about the partying, in the Kings cross Sydney,  the constant drunken nights in Queenstown, partying on the beaches of Thailand and Bali to drinking Mescal in Mexico and Santa Fe rum out of cartons in Colombia but you don’t want to read about that… Do you?

traveling life

 Local Culture.

Like I said above, countries, cities, places try to entice you with partying but there are some countries that like a party as much as us backpackers do. No I’m not talking about the Irish, English or Australian binge drinking cultures. I’m talking about countries around the world that like any excuse for a party, festival or a carnival. I’m talking about locals having random festivals and carnivals that pop up at any time over central America, locals drinking and partying through the streets in South America.

Having read through this post, can you see how backpacking and booze go hand in hand and how it’s part of traveling life?

Over the past 6 years I’ve seen and done everything I’ve wanted to do, experienced some amazing places, had life changing experiences. But side by side I’ve also met some amazing people, had some crazy nights, and been part of the most amazing parties. Just because you’re out to travel the world it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun along the way.

Read more from forever roaming the world:

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28 Comments

  1. There’s definitely no question that your average hostel is going to have a few partiers, and it’s not all that hard to partake in the festivities! I myself, like you, definitely have, and it definitely strengthens a friendship! There’s a lot to be gained from experiencing a country’s nightlife, but now that I’m a bit older, I do make sure that it doesn’t impede on what I have planned for the following day!
    Christopher James Mitchell recently posted…My Favourite Way to Save Money on Flights (and Add Some Adventure)My Profile

  2. I am definitely one of those lame ones who don’t party when travelling but I have friends who travel solely for parties. But I mean I don’t party because I don’t drink so I don’t find joy in it.

  3. Can’t say I’ve been backpacking, but have been traveling and I DON’T party the night away with the locals lol… most booze is too strong if a taste for me hahah. But these types of stories are always interesting! I also just love reading about hostel life, never been in one before (not sure if it’s my cup of tea) but the stories are some of the best and most interesting! lol

  4. Great post! Yes, I agree to your point of view and I can relate to it. We have limited time during our trips, however, we still take out time to party and enjoy the night life of the places we visit. After all the sight seeing and culture exploration during the day, the night is of course for party!! It’s the fun part of travel experience! 🙂

  5. Interesting point of view about travelling! I mostly travel to meet people; and meeting people often means partying! And must say… my craziest parties were always abroad! The best is even to do some sight-seeing with your party mates!

  6. Nice read Amit! I have not yet had the opportunity to travel for a long time (the most was 2 months) but I don’t like crowds so I would probably stay away from big parties – it’s just not my thing. I much prefer to watch the sunset with 2-3 people and a bottle of wine 🙂 Given that I understand that when you a life traveller this is a normal thing you want to socialize and just have fun – so there is something for everyone out there!

  7. well this is a interesting new POV concerning travelling. I used to always try and cram a bit if partying into my holidays before just to add something super fun in a new location kind of thing. I never knew there were travellers who only sought just to party around the world. Interesting read.
    Bee recently posted…Kalk Bay HarbourMy Profile

  8. I don’t binge drink anymore for mental health reasons, but I was definitely a dumb 19 year old that drank too much when I travelled around Southeast Asia. One night in a party hostel in Kuala Lumpur, they had an hour of free drinks for ladies, and afterwards I spent the entire night throwing up in the communal sink in the hallway, which strangers were asking me about the next day….

    Since then, I vowed to never throw up again from drinking, and I haven’t. Now that I’m mostly sober, I don’t think that I would want to visit places that are heavy on drinking/drugs culture because it would be too much temptation. I definitely struggled with being in party locations in Colombia, and had to leave social gatherings a few times when cocaine was brought out.

  9. Who doesn’t like to party ! I would be lying if i say so. Knowing a place does not only mean exploring the most sought after tourist attractions. When travelling we love to explore known and unknown spots, food, culture, people etc and partying in a foreign land gives an insight into all this together. I loved your take on travelling. Its different.
    moimehr recently posted…Stockholm – The Land of Museums !My Profile

  10. I like to take my time travelling and yes, I love seeing the sights and trying local food. But I also love to chill and relax with a cocktail in hand. I’m not a big drinker nowadays, as I can’t face the hangover the next day! haha. I’ve been to a few parties in Bali, Gilis and Ko Pha Ngan – had an amazing time! You meet some amazing people travelling!

  11. Yeeeeah, partyyyy:D Even though I love dancing and partying, I did more of it during my time at university than while traveling…I guess it’s because I do sightseeing, walk around loads and then get too exhausted to party much, haha! However, I’m never averse to a good night out. To each thier own! Great post, and awesome to hear about this particular side of backpacking culture. It has to be said!

    Helene recently posted…Ivona from Ivona Harcar TravelsMy Profile

  12. I just love all your posts! I can relate to this to quite an extent. I’m a party animal by soul. The word party itself gets me going. In a year, I like to visit places to enjoy their culture and food, and that very year, I like to keep aside a trip or two exclusively for partying. I like to balance my 12 months that way, with an equal weight on both sides of the scale. 😉

  13. I cannot relate a lot to your post Amit because although I do like to go for parties once in a while, specifically in destinations that are known for some crazy parties, it is not a lifestyle I have been able to successfully adapt to. I get so tired end of the day, I sometimes want to just crash and sleep. I find it hard to stay awake past midnight! Ha ha, makes me sound so old and boring, no? Seems like you’ve had a lot of fun and been a part of some really crazy amazing parties, that’s pretty cool!

  14. Interesting view. I would definitely like to party as you said it lets you experience the local culture in a way too. Great to read through your experiences.

  15. I guess I fall among those Travelers who want to explore culture and see things than party, but you are absolutely right since I am at a certain place for small time, but being a long term travellers I guess without partying it would definitely be boring.

  16. I definitely am not a huge partier but it’s an interesting part of the culture to see if you’re into that. I like that your post provides a different perspective than others about nightlife. It also looks like you’ve met quite the number of friends along the way!

  17. to each their own! I like that this isn’t a typical travel blog post – I think most people don’t know about this boozey backpacking culture. Maybe an idea for you can publish a party specific travel guide 😉

  18. Interesting perspective on traveling. I believe that drink and food is a big part of any culture. We have met some life long friends while doing wine tours of cities, and a lot of that is likely due to bonding that happens over a glass of wine!

  19. WOW what a brilliant post, I have to say I can totally relate to this post, after visiting some countries several times and when I started travelling, I loved to party and loved the nightlife. I made so many long term friends and met so may people during beach parties and festivals it was a fabulous time. I know some people are one a limited time frame and cannot afford to wake up in the am, tired or hungover but if you get the change to experience the nightlife and party scene then do it, you only live once. We all love seeing the culture and the sights of places and mingling with he locals at a party or bar and fellow travellers is just as much fun. I have had countless nights in Asia just relaxing with the local bar owners or locals have a few drinks and talking about life which has left me with some amazing memories, AND yes I WILL BE BACK TO do it all over again. Thanks for sharing some amazing travel insights and for keeping it REAL. Awsome Read.

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