This morning I had lunch with one of my oldest and dearest friends. She has been off travelling the world for the last year, roaming around Europe and Asia – she has made a pit stop in Sydney over christmas before she continues her adventures in New Zealand… oh what a life!
Over breakfast she was telling me a story about how she had met a Chilean guy while traveling, at first she didn’t think he would be cool to hang out as he was travelling with a suitcase but then on further acquaintance she learnt that the reason he had a suitcase was because he was so broke he couldn’t afford to buy a new backpack. She looked at me and said with refreshing honesty “I’m a suitcase snob”.
It got me thinking – previously I have written about how we are all travel snobs, how we judge people for not travelling in the way that we think “real” travel should be done. What it came down to is that there is no right or wrong way to travel – but you may not get along with someone who is cocktail bar hopping when you are chasing down the cheapest beer in town. Fact.
My friend is a very practical lady, throughout our misspent youth there would be many times when her practicality would win out – such as at 3am after dancing all night in heels and a short dress… suddenly my feet were sore and I was cold. Whereas she would be in cute but sensible shoes and would have packed a cardigan – all warm and toasty! So she practically unpacked her comment – suitcases just weren’t a sensible travel accessory if you want to travel on a budget. Therefore anyone travelling with a suitcase is either a) travelling in “style” or b) not sensible.
After a few moments thought on my last few trips I had to agree. Suitcases were not sensible for the budget traveller!
So can your travel bag define your travel style? And does it determine the travellers you will associate with while on the road?
Yes, your travel bag is definitely going to determine your travel style. Without the money to splurge on door to door taxi’s wheeling a suitcase through most cities would be a nightmare. I could mention the crowds and the numerous stair cases but I think the main problem would be the cobbled streets – your arm would vibrate off! Then imagine schlepping it through the underground in London or New York – up and down those escalators with people rushing past climbing over your bag – just awkward. If your island hopping through South East Asia try wheeling your suitcase through sand as you walk along the beach looking for the path to possible accommodation. None of this sounds like fun. So you wouldn’t do it – if you are travelling on a budget a backpack is always going to be your choice (unless of course you are one of those people who common sense eludes). You would catch a cab from the airport instead of public transport. You probably wouldn’t go to little off the beaten track islands which have no resorts on them to avoid getting bogged down in the sand. And the underground was never an option. Therefore a suitcase would be no hassle and actually the right bag for you.
But should we backpackers be snobby towards the suitcase pullers? Like my friend, when I am in a hostel and I see a group of girls with suitcases – my first thought is always “they are probably not my sort of travel people” and yet 9 out of 10 times once I have chatted to them I have learnt that the suitcase never mattered – they are girls, I have had a good gossip with them, maybe even borrowed their hair straightener – which they mercifully had room for in their spacious suitcase – and found some fabulous new friends. In short, no – lets not judge the suitcase pullers for their bad decision. Their travel style is just a little different is all. You can still travel on a budget and have a suitcase – you may choose to spend your money on those methods of transport that make your life easier rather than the numerous beers your average backpackers consume every night. Or you may enjoy carrying a suitcase up several flights of stairs as it’s how you get your daily work out in while travelling.
I ask you fellow backpackers out there – are you a suitcase snob? be honest now!