Where are you travelling to? Conversations with a backpacker

Picture the scene; you’ve just arrived off a long bus, train, boat or plane ride. You get to your hostel, and check in to your dorm room. If there aren’t any people around, you head down to the common area, to find your fellow backpackers.

At a popular backpackers hang out in Mui Ne, Vietnam
At a popular backpackers hang out in Mui Ne, Vietnam

You meet some, get a drink and begin talking.

Conversations generally go like this.

“Hey, I am (insert name)”

“Hi, I’m Abbi, nice to meet you.”

“Where are you from?”

“Holland” (I met a number of Dutch people on my travels, so I am using this as an example)

“Cool, I’ve never been to Holland, I was supposed to go back in 2005, but had to cancel, for various reasons. I’ll perhaps make it there one day.”

“I guess by your accent, you are from England?”

“I am from the UK, but from Northern Ireland, but haven’t lived there in 8 years. I’ve been living in New Zealand, for the past two years, my accent has changed over the years.”

“Oh that’s awesome, I am going to New Zealand soon. I am travelling in Thailand, and Cambodia first for a month. I’ve just spent a week at the full moon party.”

“How long are you travelling for?”

“On this trip? Four months, but have only got a few left”

“Wow, four months, I wish I could travel that long!” “Where have you been and where are you going to?”

“I started off in Bali, then went to Singapore, Malaysia (including Malaysian Borneo), Brunei, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. I am heading to Vietnam soon, then back to Thailand, and finishing my trip in Java, Indonesia.”

So that conversation typically takes 10 minutes, but what on earth have I learnt in that 10 minutes about that person, as an individual? Nothing. I know what nationality they are, and where they’ve been and are going to. Otherwise, nothing.

Sharing local experiences in Battambang, Camboia
Sharing local experiences in Battambang, Camboia

Backpackers – can we please just stop having these conversations?!

I want to know why you travel, not where you’re travelling to, or how many stamps you have in your passport.

"When I was in .... Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Fiji, Australia ..."
“When I was in …. Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Fiji, Australia …”

I want to know what makes you tick, and what you’re passionate about. Not what job you do back home.

I want to know what your aspirations and dreams are, and how you want to make a difference in this World, not just your best stories of partying all night in the last city you stopped in.

Perhaps this is too deep? Too much to talk about with a transient or temporary friend (that you inevitably add on Facebook within 5 minutes), who knows.

Hanging out with some fellow backpackers (and locals) in Battambang, Cambodia
Hanging out with some fellow backpackers (and locals) in Battambang, Cambodia

I’d now love to engage my readers; other travellers, travel bloggers, backpackers, flashpackers ….

Why do you travel? (Here are some of the reasons I travel)

What lessons have you gained while travelling?

What are you passionate about?

What are your hopes and dreams for the future?

I’d also like to challenge you, as you travel, to step out of the ordinary conversation of, who are you and where are you from?

Sure, it is a good introduction, but it’s boring.

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