The Strange Habits of the Backpacking Class

I love traveling. I love other travelers. I love hostels, I love trains, I love adventures and I love the rush of not knowing what’s around the corner, both literally and figuratively.

But there are a few things I don’t love about traveling. Beside the inevitable issues of comforts and language barriers, I’ve found that there are things my fellow backpackers love to do that I simply don’t.

Swimming in sub-zero temperatures. As I passed through the Lake Baikal region, I heard countless stories from my traveling peers about their trips to the lake. “We jumped in at midnight, totally naked, and it was freezing!” one raved, while another chimed in “Oh, yeah, mate? Well it was bloody snowing outside when we jumped in off a cliff, thought my balls would proper fall off!” Let me make clear that I have absolutely zero (or perhaps sub-zero) interest in jumping into freezing cold Siberian bodies of water, clothed or not, in daylight or not. It’s not fun, it’s not sexy, it’s not healthy. Me? I was nursing a headcold at the lake and found that hot tea and my handkerchief made for quite a pleasant experience.

Drinking warm beer. I’m not much of a drinker. Some reading this will laugh at that statement. But it’s true, actually–I’m a social drinker and enjoy consuming alcohol at parties and around friends. Sitting around a hostel lounge and downing several tall cans of warm beer is NOT the kind of drinking I like to do. Most people don’t understand this. At the border with Mongolia, my train-mates came back from the store, having spent their last roubles on several cans of low-grade light beer for the rest of the trip. I spent mine on a huge bottle of purified water, a handbrush for washing clothes in hostel sinks and a small bottle of nail polish for my toes. And this past weekend in the yurt in Mongolia, I was alarmed to find out that my companions had bought six cans of tall, warm beer for each of us–far outweighing spending on actual food provisions. Let me reiterate: I am too poor and too delicate to drink lots of warm beer.

Is it just me?


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