A recent trip to Raglan (2 hours south of Auckland) found me sitting round a table one afternoon with a group of French, Belgian, German and Canadian backpackers. The main topic of discussion, while drinking some unnamed NZ beer, was travel and waxing lyrical about our philosophies of backpacker life.
Well, they were waxing lyrical. My sister, her boyfriend and I were just in Raglan over the New Years break. We had to be back to work on the Wednesday.
Meanwhile, their stories flowed along with the beer. We listened and imagined what it would be like to spend six months or longer backpacking round the world without a care except for, what the hell am I going to do when I get to Fiji?
This was the dilemma of one German girl who had been backpacking for so long that the thought of travelling to Fiji and sitting on another beach was quite horrific. To while away the long hours of downtime and brain inaction (an occupational hazard while backpacking) she had started to knit hats for tourists. She was looking forward to starting her WOOFing job, cleaning the toilets.
A Slovakian girl who was backpacking for two years (source of funding unknown) was incredibly confident and opinionated on everything from internet reception, to how difficult it was to stay fashionable when you’re on a tight budget. She was also incredibly trusting; she left her lap-top and cellphone in the midst of us strangers and was gone for over an hour.
Being with this random group of travellers on a hot summer afternoon, which turned into early evening and then rather latish at night, reminded me that another facet of life does exist.
It’s easy to forget when you’re in full time employment that there’s actually people out there travelling around and having all sorts of wonderful experiences. But, being someone who craves routine, it does make me wonder how I would cope with the lack of structure when travelling for such a long time.
One day perhaps I’ll find out. At least I know I can always fall back on my knitting skills if needs be.