Traveling life – backpacks and booze is part 5 of forever roaming the world’s traveling realism’s series.
Traveling life – Backpacks and booze…Go hand in hand!
There are not many backpackers out there who can say they haven’t been part of a hostel party or partied the night away with locals. Most backpackers have as many boozy memories as they do memories of their trips.
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 since 2010. Like it or not drinking and partying plays a prominent part of backpacking life and in some cases part of local culture.
Don’t travel to party.
I can hear you, some of you may be shaking your head as you read this, some of you might even turn your nose at it. I’m sure some of you are saying “I want to travel to experience new cultures and do things I’ve never experienced before, my traveling life will not include partying!”, Or you might be thinking “Why would you travel to a new country just to party, I can do that at home!”
And, if you are thinking this, yes, you’re right but the truth is, many, many travelers and backpackers like to do both. 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 party; like I said it is ingrained in the backpacking culture.
However, if you travel or are planning on traveling just to see things, explore new cultures and don’t want to party that’s fine too, I’m just pointing out and forewarning that you can easily get sucked into the traveling party life.
Partying comes first.
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 on another 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 are many reasons 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 and are winding down. Or, maybe they are just having a blast with the people around them.
Something that gets 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 life is about the experiences, the people you meet and the fun you have. There are times people get too wrapped up in just sight-seeing that they forget to have any fun, they forget to stop and enjoy themselves.
Places enticing you with booze and partying.
Another reason why backpackers party so much is because they’re enticed to do so!
With tourism growing around the world by the day, so many countries, islands, cities, and towns cater towards backpackers and travelers. They want to bring in new tourists and they promote certain places 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 or backpacker areas? How many of these tourist and backpacker areas are crammed with cheap bars, hostels, and clubs?
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
- *Khao San road in Bangkok
- *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 its full moon parties, The Gilli Islands are paradise islands but entice you with partying. There are so many island hopping tours that include partying too.
But, that’s not all –
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 drink offers from local bars and clubs.
Sometimes, as you check in the receptionist will inform you of drink offers, discount cards, bar nights, hostel events before she even gives you a key.
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 manager, 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 the area, you will also find bar reps visiting the hostel trying to entice you out for the night.
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 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 exposure to it.
I’ll be honest, before my first trip, even after all the ‘research’ I’d done, I was not prepared for what traveling life, no, backpacking life was really about. I honestly didn’t expect to party as much as I did.
This is how it went down for me:
I did my research, watched vlogs, read blogs and articles and I thought I had everything covered. I was prepared but none of them had said what happened on the days you don’t do excursions and trips, days you can’t be bothered to do anything.
My first hostel.
Now, don’t get me wrong I didn’t go into it completely blind, I was aware of some partying and I did pick a sociable hostel in the heart of the Kings Cross in Sydney. Funkhouse backpackers hostel.
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; Oh how naive of me!
From the 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 the 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 went a little like this
Those who didn’t work and had no plans for the next day would start drinking and party through the day. Those who worked would join in after they finished their working days. By that time some of the day drinkers would fade and go for a nap (pass out). The hostel rep would take new guests and guests only staying for a few days out on pub crawls while those who were long-termers stayed in the hostel and partied. The ones that worked in restaurants and bars would then finish their shifts and return to join in and carry the partying through the night. By time people who had work in the morning faded others joined and finally the ones that worked in clubs would return around 4 or 5 am and keep the rotation going. When they started to fade the day partiers would rise to take their place and the cycle would start again.
It just doesn’t stop.
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.”
The funny thing is there were guests who used to say that, normally people passing through, staying for a few days, most of them hated it, they hated the way we partied.
However those same people would return after their travels siting it was the best hostel they stayed in, that other hostels just didn’t have the same atmosphere we created. Many of them ended up becoming long-termers and joined in the rotation.
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 worked in Queenstown, drinks vouchers were handed out as incentives. Let’s just say in an adrenaline pumped town famous for its adventure sports every day was a party. If you don’t know what Queenstown is all about this post will show you: Missing Neverland!
Ask anybody who’s backpacked through South East Asia if they had a single sober day? Thailand in particular, is of course, famous for enticing backpackers with partying. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the over touristy Bangkok, on one of its many party Islands, along with the coast or up in the jungles there will be a party and rave going on somewhere.
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?
I mentioned at the top of the post, partying is ingrained in backpacking culture, well it’s also ingrained in certain local cultures too. Trust me locals like to party just as the backpackers passing through it.
And before you think it no I’m not just talking about the Irish, English, German and Australian drinking cultures. I’m talking about countries all over the world that make any excuse to party or have festivals and carnivals. For example a random street parade, fiesta or carnival popping up out of nowhere in central America because somebody felt like it.
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.
However, it’s important to bear in mind, even if you party hard and drink your body weight, know your own limits, don’t be stupid, and remember most importantly you’re in a foreign country. Things you may get away with or are allowed to do back home might not be tolerated in your destination.
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