That Time I’d Had Enough of Budget Backpacking…?

As you’ll no doubt know by now I had an overall awesome time on my most recent trip…

And how could I fail not to when visiting my Official Favourite Place in the World™?!

(N.B. I’ll be calling it by that name in this post, just to give you guys a break from my usual verbal gushing)

But before I departed, and even whilst on the way there, I had a strange lack of enthusiasm about the adventures ahead, and I couldn’t pinpoint the exact reason for it…

I initially wondered if it was the choice of destination that was causing me to be not particularly excited, simply because I knew what was coming once I hit foreign shores, and after all it was going to be my 5th time there. But as soon as I was on the bus into the city centre the silly grin slipped back onto my face, so it definitely wasn’t that.

I also wondered if it was the fact that I was back on my own again, particularly after a very enjoyable getaway with some good buddies the month before. However as soon as I was up in the air any nerves I had quickly dissipated, and I began to relish the freedom of solo travel all over again.

As such I was pretty damn puzzled about what was causing this odd sensation. And it took me all the way until I reached my hostel for it to start to become clear…

With a very late arrival due to my slightly delayed evening flight I showed up as most of the hostel crowd was well on their way to inebriation, meaning check-in was a very noisy experience. After dragging my knackered self and my bags up the stairs to my bed, I opened the door to my dorm room, and that was the moment it hit me:

“I really do not want to be staying in a dorm right now!”

Oh no!

Oh no!

One of the main aspects that I always looked forward to on my solo trips – hostel life and socialising – just completely held no interest for me this time! I just wanted to have my own room. With my own space. And own bathroom. So that I could chill out where and when I wanted and get to my stuff whenever the heck I wanted.

But instead I had a tiny dorm to share with several unknowns – although only three others admittedly – with just a security locker to cram all my clothes, washbag and camera equipment into. And had to share a clammy, baking bathroom with several randoms who clearly had lesser standards of hygiene than me.

Not ideal…

If you’re thinking I suddenly sound like the most unsuitable person to be staying in a hostel ever, well I don’t blame you. This mindset completely surprised me too, as I’d never experienced this before.

I had no reason for it either, what with my last hostel stay being almost six months ago and also being one that I’d thoroughly enjoyed in a truly excellent example of a hostel. In fact it was so good that I wrote to them to let them know! The only one negative being the loudest snorer I will ever hear in my life… He got water chucked at him.

Even so I thought the feeling could only be a temporary one, so after freshening up and changing my clothes I decided to park myself at the hostel bar and get a few relaxing drinks in to help me chill after a long day. But of course, chill was the one thing I could not do in a busy hostel bar with lots of loud conversations going on. Let alone the pumping music…

Whilst in real life I’m not the greatest social butterfly I’ve always enjoyed the leveller that hostel life has provided, and it’s helped a load since I started experiencing travel to bring me out of my shell. As such I had always previously looked forward to the hustle and bustle of a busy hostel common room for more of those awesome experiences. Unfortunately this time around, I just did not want it.

Good hostel group times!

Good hostel group times!

Despite what I hoped, this feeling hadn’t changed the next morning either. Putting up with an hour of my roommate’s intermittent phone alarm was not a good way to start the day off. Getting dressed in the dorm whilst trying not to disturb them (not that they deserved the courtesy!) was, quite frankly, a massive pain in the rear. As was trying to grab a shower when one cubicle was broken down and everyone seemed to wake up right after breakfast (N.B. this is in the first hostel I stayed at, not my recently reviewed option). So I couldn’t wait to get out and about to get wandering on my lonesome and honestly, away from the hostel.

Incidentally that’s half the reason my trip was so damn good overall – I kept myself ridiculously busy, and was hardly ever in the hostel.

With another six nights of hostel life ahead of me though the situation wasn’t ideal. So I had two choices? Either mope and be annoyed about it, or suck it up and make the best of my surroundings.

And make the best of it I did – I went out on an excursion and ate tapas with the American hostel staff, discussed my Brazilian table-mate’s experiences of living in Germany, shared my love for my Official Favourite Place in the World™ with some friendly trainee doctors from back home, spent an entire Sunday night discussing football with a couple of fellow fans and shared my knowledge of the city over breakfast with a wet behind the ears Aussie dude who’d just arrived. I enjoyed it all hugely, but still the whole time I just wanted my own space to retreat back to at the end of it.

I can’t hide the fact that I would have bailed from the hostel after a few days too, had I been able to find a decent hotel room available during my searches online. But alas it was not to be. In hindsight I’m not disappointed about that either, but I definitely felt like I needed it during the first few days of the trip.

What now?

So as you can tell my mind has really gone into overtime wondering about the seeming sudden change in my travel comfort and accommodation outlook. There’s a number of aspects I’m deliberating over wandering how this came about, and whether this was a one-off or a sign of changes to come for me…

Are these times over?

Are these times over?

Was it the awesome destination that was the – shudder – problem? Being that I’ve done it on a budget every time I’ve been there, maybe I just need to splash out and enjoy it to the absolute maximum in my own space next time.

Alternatively maybe I’ve just been spoilt with some great hostel experiences previously and no new ones can live up to those anymore? Or maybe I’ve just been lucky to stay in some lush accommodation options, and a basic backpacker hostel can no longer compare to these?

Or am I just starting to outgrow the hostel lifestyle – a thought that would have been unthinkable to me just a month ago? Can you even do that though? I really hope not to be honest, as despite my lack of interest this time around, I’m sure I would truly miss the social environment that a hostel provides.

Despite my hopes I’m definitely relieved that my next stay will be a cosy stay in Dublin with my lovely lady. It’s undoubtedly what I need after my shared accommodation woes this time around, and I’m looking forward to relaxing (when I need to) in a personal rather than shared space. But will that type of stay start to become the norm in the longer run?

Oh yes!

Oh yes!

I guess this last trip has raised one rather large overriding question in terms of my travel outlook – Is this the beginning of the end for me as a backpacker? And is this the start of a new beginning for me as a “flashpacker”?

Time will most definitely tell. But I certainly hope that the path towards the answer is a little clearer following my final adventures of the year.

Have you ever felt the same about budget trips and hostel stays? Was it a temporarily feeling or a permanent change for you?


12 responses to “That Time I’d Had Enough of Budget Backpacking…?

  1. Maybe it’s time for the hybrid private room at a hostel. Meet people in the common areas and retire to your private space at night.

  2. On our trip to Thailand, we stayed in a very sketchy 20 person hostel in Koh Phi Phi for three nights. Three out of four of us left with odd-looking bumps covering our body, the showers were molding and there was a bunkmate having sex a couple of the nights. By the time we left paradise island (minus the ridiculously cheap room), we were ready for something a little more substantial in Bangkok. It happens, sometimes you just can’t bear it. It’s ok to indulge every once in a while. If you continue booking private rooms, I’m sure you’ll crave a hostel experience in the near future.

    • Hey yeah hopefully after enjoying a more relaxed stay on my upcoming Dublin trip I’ll get my enthusiasm back for the hostel environment.

      I must say that I’ve been fortunate to never share a room with an “active” couple during all my hostel stays so far mind! One thing I’m definitely glad about.

      Cheers for the awesome comment guys 🙂

  3. I completely understand. I decided that after last year, I would splurge a little more on lodgings this time around. As I don’t plan on doing as many short trips, I do expect two big trips… and I think I’ll upgrade on where I stay!

    • Hey I only just saw your comment on here – don’t know how I missed it until now!

      I’m definitely intending to head down the route of more comfortable lodgings for my next couple of trips too. But next year I’m planning to hit three destinations that aren’t exactly renowned for being cheap, so I may have some tough decisions to make accommodation wise with those…

  4. What a great and honest post. Thanks for the “like” on my most recent post. I’m looking forward to following your adventures!

    • Glad you enjoyed it! It’s definitely not a change in outlook that I had anticipated, so we shall see how my next few trips go.

      And hey no worries, I was glad to stumble across your blog too. 🙂

  5. Pingback: That Time Hong Kong Was Hella Good! | That Time In·

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