After spending time backpacking around Europe and now living in London I’ve met a few backpackers. In that time I’ve spent hours and hours relaxing in hostel common rooms and various drinking establishments talking travel. Where have you been? Where are you going? What was your favourite place? All questions that will come up everywhere you go so be ready with your best (or worst) travel story.
When I would tell them of my future travels plans I was often met with two different responses. My usual answer to the question was “oh I think I’ll stay a few more days before I move on but I’m not sure yet”. Some people at that point would take it upon themselves to suggest I go and see another site while here, jealous I was staying longer than they were. The rest would say “but don’t you have your next hostel booked already? you are crazy I could never do that”.
This was where I discovered that so many people had pre book travel. Be it their hostels, tours and even their entire trip abroad before having left home. I’m not one to say you must travel a specific way otherwise you are doing it wrong but I do believe there is some method to my madness.
Lets look at the pre book travellers train of thought. Booking everything from home makes it easy. You have your accommodation squared away so won’t have to worry about dealing with that on the road. It allows you to spend hours not minutes finding your so-called perfect hostel and having tours or bus’s booked in advance takes away some of the language barrier stress. Lastly it makes the parents feel safer knowing they will have a detailed itinerary of where you are staying for every night of your trip.
Nothing wrong with the above, it’s safe and leaves little chance of you ending up with no bed for the night. But… aren’t you removing yourself from part of the joy of travel. What happened to the world is my oyster dreams you had when the idea of backpacking first entered your mind. When you were excited about all the places you wanted to explore with not a care in the world.
By all means plan out some of your trip like countries you want to visit. It would be remiss of me to tell you to just land abroad with no plan as I’m sure you will have certain places or sights you will want to visit (I know I did). After that stop and draw a line in the sand, stop planning travel and start living travel. Why? well because of the following.
- You will make friends on the road and want to travel with them
- You will fall in love with a place and want to stay longer
- You will miss at least one bus or train
- You will discover a new independent you
- You may find love
How can you do any of the above if you are running to a timetable that resembles your first year of high school. To sum it up best I saw this line over on urban dictionary awhile ago as a definition for travel which lines up with my reasoning’s for not pre booking my travels.
to move from point to point, often done at the spur of a moment
In my mind pre booking all your travel is selling yourself short. Less than a week on the road and you’ll gain your travel legs along with a new view on the world and I’m living proof of that. Scared out of my brain when leaving to travel solo around Europe with nothing booked other than my first hostel in Paris. It took just a couple of days until I was a completely different person and boy was I thrilled to have so much freedom to go wherever I pleased.
With confidence abroad the last thing you want holding you back is the fact you sunk so much money booking hostels and other things ahead of time.
With all that said I’d love to hear if you book everything before you leave or just take it day by day as you get on the road?