My trusty backpack is named Tommy Wonton. No idea where that name from, but it’s certainly stuck, as he and his name have been in my life for coming up to six years.
He’s been with me in difficult times ( getting lost late at night after arriving in a hilly city where I don’t speak the language as one example) and in good ( I was wearing him when I first met my boyfriend in Bulgaria, as well as so many other amazing travel moments.)
So, I wear a big, blue backpack named Tommy Wonton. But. I am not always what most people would describe as a backpacker. I don’t want to get all pretentious and gross here, I LOVE backpacking, but travelling is a big part of my life, and I think that that means that I should try and travel all kinds of different ways, as many as I am capable of.
My brother told me great words of wisdom when I was considering going on a dreaded Contiki tour years ago. I didn’t want to do it, but I could afford it ( turns out I actually couldn’t cos all my money was stolen in Barcelona 3 days before, but that’s another story…).
I was living in Ireland at the time and my best friend was coming over from Australia and wanted to do a tour. I told my brother my concerns about group travel in general, and Contiki tours in particular and he said- “You wanna be a traveller? Then you have to experience all kinds of travel.”
So I went, and… it was a useful experience. I’m certainly glad I went, and now I have knowledge of that kind of travel, and I know it’s pros and it’s cons… and that I, personally, won’t do it again.
So, fast forward, and most of the travelling I have done has been backpacking, although stick in a good three month long motel 6 style road trip up the west coast of the States, a god-awful work trip and some short breaks in-between, some of them in rather nice hotels.
This trip? Well, we have a couple of hostels but mostly we’re staying in Starwood Hotels. That’s Sheraton, Le Meridien, Four Points and Westin. A little bit fancy.
Wait- really fancy. In my book anyway!
Basically, my boyfriend has a lot of super awesome points with this chain of hotels through credit cards ( We don’t really get this kind of thing in Oz yet ). And so mostly, we’re staying for free. Kind of. Not really, but that sounds better doesn’t it?
Also, we’re staying in one for a long-ass time so that we can get Platinum Status in these hotels. This means- free internet, free breakfast, at night time we get free food and drinks (Including those alcoholic ones) and sometimes we’ll get upgraded to super sweet rooms, you know, the ones you see in movies.
Yes, sometimes I do feel like I might have fallen into a weird fantasy alternative reality.
So I’m trying out the more luxurious side of travel, and I’m eager to see the differences that might come about. Is the backpacker’s stereotype of hotel people being locked behind glass windows instead of interacting with the people and understanding the culture true? Or can you have some privacy, cleanliness, a little bit of luxury and still experience the country to the best of your ability?
Can you go back and forth between luxury and backpackery with ease? Should I be brushing up on my etiquette skills? Is that what they’re called?
Ha. I’ll let you know!