Who am I? I don’t recognize myself anymore. For the last five years, I’ve been a die-hard backpacker who spent her days eating street food, wandering new cities with my map hidden in my bag and trying to find lesser-known adventures. So, what was I doing glamping on the Sunshine Coast of Vancouver?
I was evolving. While I knew it wasn’t a bad thing, I couldn’t help but feel guilty. It was almost as if I was cheating on my former travel philosophy. What would the girl with the messy bun, unwashed painter’s shorts and quickly depleting bank account think of this new form of herself, checking into a luxury accommodation and dining at an upscale seafood restaurant?
I’ve always believed you should have as many kinds of experiences as possible. While I had usually thought of it more in the sense of cultural offerings like homestays, voluntourism, eco-vacations and festivals, why couldn’t the advice extend to travel style? Wasn’t I making myself a more worldly and open-minded person by trying out different ways to travel?
The changing of travel style doesn’t just happen to backpackers. I remember once going to Europe with my friend Lisa. She was naturally drawn to resort Caribbean vacations, infinity pools and spa days; however, I had somehow convinced her to try something new.
“I can’t afford to stay in hotels for two weeks,” I explained. “Let’s stay in hostels, and we can save money and meet other travelers.”
Reluctantly, she agreed, making sure I knew she was only doing it for me. After two weeks in Barcelona, Paris and London hostel-hopping, sampling dishes from mom and pop restaurants and hanging out with locals, Lisa was a changed woman.
“I’m not saying I’m giving up my Starwood Points or spa days, but I would definitely do the whole “budget-backpacker” thing again,” she confided.
As you experience more and as things change in your life, your way of doing things changes. For example, when my last boyfriend and I traveled together we opted for accommodations that gave us more privacy and restaurants that offered a romantic ambiance. Not that we spent a fortune every day, but there was more reason to splurge.
Moreover, if you have a baby or get married, your outlook on what you want to get out of a vacation is much different. While a solo traveler may be looking to have an internal journey or cultural revelation, a couple with a baby may want something that’s interactive for their child.
As I’ve been traveling more luxuriously lately, I do often find myself yearning to spend a few days in a more rugged existence. I don’t think I’ve lost my passion for backpacking, it’s just that I’m growing up. I like a bit more comfort now, and don’t feel the need to spend every waking moment exploring a new city. That being said, I’d feel guilty wasting the days away laying by the pool. I guess you can say I’m a luxury backpacker.
Hey, there’s no rule about not being able to mix travel styles. Actually, I think I’d prefer to leave my style unlabeled. That’s one of the great things about travel. It’s selfish. You can do what you like, when you like and how you like to get the experience you want. Basically, travel is anything you want it to be.
Ask yourself, “Am I getting what I want from my vacation?” If the answer is yes, you’re doing just fine.