02 November 2011

November is a month for writing!

Writer types of people are perhaps already familiar with November as NaNoWriMo, and of course it's Movember, but it's also the 30 Days of Independent Travel Project!  Hopefully it will help me to articulate some of the thoughts and feelings I've been having lately about travel.

The first prompt was about goals, and really, right now, I don't have any huge travel goals.  What I'd like to make some comments on is ch-ch-ch-change.

In the last year, I've become a lot less resistant to the idea of using a backpack as a way of carrying things while I travel.  This is directly attributable to the Hadrian's Wall Path trip, out of efficiency and necessity.  During my formative years in Rome, I would see people with outrageously huge packs wearing flipflops (can't be good for your feet) arguing in front of the ticket windows in Termini, and it just didn't seem like the kind of traveler I wanted to be.  So for years, I tried to project a more business-like, jet setter look with a black carry-on roller suitcase, which can be fine for intercity travel but is obviously impractical for tromping through sheep fields in Northern England.  When you stop and think about it, it's also impractical for the incredibly unevenness of urban streets, as well. 

Most of my distaste for backpacks comes from trips staying in youth hostels and sleeping in the back of a Volkswagen Eurovan with my parents in the early 1990s.  My reactionary travel style developed into a sort of middle ground, trying to seem as normal and cultured as possible while still keeping the budget low.  This usually ends up meaning means private rooms with shared bathrooms as accommodations and using a carry-on wheelie suitcase, and doesn't go much further.  Lately, I've also been thinking about how much the internet has changed the way we travel - comparison-shopping for flights and hotels, and I'm addicted to TripAdvisor reviews to give myself the sort of experience I want and expect to have.

A bit sunburnt, too!
Though the Hadrian's Wall Path trip caused me to go and buy a backpack, spending so much time on trains in Slovakia is what softened me to the idea.  Students traveling to and from Bratislava on weekends use big backpacks like I'd see in Roma Termini, and they clearly were also not backpackers.  Yet, as I plan and do more and more independent travel, and I think back on various journeys, really, deep down, I'm more of a backpacker than I'm often willing to admit -- and I couldn't do what I do otherwise.  I've picked up skills, habits and tolerances (making choices as an adult, not as a 4 year old, though that certainly helped!) doing this style of travel in Europe that have been making me dream of Megabusing it all over America (really? yes.) and I think I can accept the greater self-awareness and especially self-acceptance: 
Hello, my name is Maria, and I am a backpacker.


80831 shades said...

I think you enjoy what you are doing & i admire you for sharing your this.

monument blinds said...

Well-written article, Keep up fabulous work!