There is no doubt that having an open mind and a level of tolerance for differences in cultures is essential for any backpacker during their travels overseas. I also believe that there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ traveler, that not all backpackers from the same country necessarily bear resemblance to each other, and that where in the world an individual comes from should not affect how they are perceived and treated when traveling.
However, in the spirit of poking fun at some stereotypical quirks and cultural differences, and with a hint of political incorrectness, below is a list of the top ten backpacker region stereotypes (including my own!) that you may have encountered during your world travels…
1 – The American Backpacker
You will hear this backpacker immediately upon entering the hostel. Loud, enthusiastic and friendly, the American Backpacker either travels in large groups of young college girls or guys, or, if a little bit older, travels hans solo. The delightful college girl American Backpacker wears pajamas during the day and tight bright clothing at night, and is never without numerous layers of make up and hairspray, and the college boy American Backpacker has usually found their way to Central or South America on a cheap flight from Miami and are ready for a week of drinking and partying.
In contrast, the older single American Backpackers are usually travel bloggers, photographers, or hippies that are trying to find the deeper meaning in their travel experiences. All American backpackers give themselves massive kudos for being one of the 20-30% of American citizens that own passports and like to brag about anything remotely ‘foreign’ they have done on their travels. Depending on the type, great for partying the night away or discussing the meaning of life.
2 – The European Backpacker
Usually travels in pairs, stays in the private rooms, and spends much of the time speaking to only each other in their native language. The European Backpacker is ridiculously good looking but very quiet and reserved, until copious amounts of red wine are consumed.
Usually has way more money than the rest of the hostel combined and can tell smug stories of expensive trips and activities which others could only dream of. Great for when you want to pretend you are not a grimy backpacker and go to a nice restaurant or bar for once.
3 – The Canadian Backpacker
Can spot these a mile away due to the prevalence of Canadian flags sewn on to their backpack and the ‘ey’ at the end of every sentence (“Canada, ey”).
Always friendly and impeccably polite (unless you mistake them for their louder cousin, American backpacker). Often stoned. If you hit them, they will apologize. Great for switching rooms to get away from the snorer.
4 – The Israeli Backpacker
The Israeli backpacker tends to travel in large packs after doing their time in the army. Easy to find as they will be the ones haggling at every spot. Friendly and always speak impeccable English, but are slightly scary and a little smelly. Great for when you want the best deal at the local kebab shop.
5 – The Asian Backpacker
Very rare breed of backpacker. Quiet and courteous (until they have a beer), the Asian Backpacker usually travels in small packs with large cameras and a multitude of electrical equipment in a Hello Kitty backpack. Great for when you need that s150 charger you left at home.
6 – The English Backpacker
The English Backpacker travels in a massive group with other suntanned/burnt/fake-tan orange English Backpackers. Friendly but often spends time whinging on a hostel balcony.
Usually has enough money to find English booze and fried food thanks to the pound. Usually on a Gap Year. Always up for hostel drinking games, and able to drink nearly as much as the Australian Backpacker (and often goes home with one). Great for having a laugh at the pub.
7 – The South African Backpacker
Another rare breed. Usually men. Very arrogant and most have the crazy eyes, but they come complete with a divine accent and amazing abs. Can handle a shotgun. Great for when you need a handyman to fix the hostel bunk, someone to protect you in a dangerous part of town, or when you have a hankering for a backpacker fling.
8 – The Australian Backpacker
Friendly, adventurous and laid back, but can be annoyingly loud and is the centre of every party once drunk. Always the one that does the stupid dares.
Can be found traveling in packs, pairs or alone, but if alone will often have run into a cousin/friend/acquaintance at every stop, however remote (“maaaaate, didn’t realise you were over here in the middle of the amazon jungle. lets go for a drink.”).
Great for when you want to start drinking at 9am and have a skinny dip in a public fountain.
9 – The New Zealand Backpacker
Often confused with its Australian cousin; can be distinguished by their questionable fashion sense and hilarious pronunciation of the phrases “fish and chips” and “six, please”. Very friendly but usually a little reserved in large groups. Well experienced in camping and ‘tramping’ (hiking) and is at home in cold and mud and snow.
Extremely loose on the booze and has the ability to do even crazier things than the Australian Backpacker when provoked, especially if from Dunedin. Great for a laugh when ordering six beers, or for borrowing clothes when the weather is chilly.
10 – The Irish Backpacker
Not to be confused with the English Backpacker, the Irish Backpacker is usually a little older and travels in pairs or by themselves. Like a homing pigeon, this gem of a backpacker always manages to find the best deals on a pint at any time of the day and is friendly and inclusive of all other travelers.
Loses the ability to speak English after a few alcoholic beverages but good at miming their usually hilarious drinking stories. Great for a friendly face if traveling alone.
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