As I was preparing to get on my flight at Ohare International Airport a month and a half ago, I checked my bags and went through security as a traveler set out for a seven-ish month adventure on a Working Holiday visa. But somewhere between boarding my flight at 5:30pm in Chicago and the 30 hours it took to arrive in Hervey Bay, I somehow transformed from young traveler to international backpacker.
Now, whenever I heard the term backpacker in the past, I always instantly pictured a group of fresh college grads prepared to explore Europe for the couple of months their graduation gift permitted. I also always thought of small single tents latched on to the bottom of their oversized backpacks as they set out to make camp in the next accommodating ancient city.
But it took less than 24 hours after setting foot in Australia before I myself was given the title of Backpacker. As soon as I was referred to as one, I had this internal argument about how “you must be mistaken, I am not a backpacker! I am here to meet locals, and learn about and respect your town/city, and get involved with community events and travel around your country!” Travel around your country…..Travel around your country! With a backpack of clothes, in my early 20’s, prepared to stay in less than stellar accommodations, while taking on less than stellar jobs, with a camera always an arm’s reach away
Well, what do you know, I guess I am a backpacker.
How the hell did that happen?!
Whether I like it or not, I am stuck with this title now, and I might as well embrace it. Because I am picking up that from a locals perspective those bloody backpackers are liars, and thieves, and disrespectful, and unloyal.
But from a fellow voyager standpoint, us backpackers are friendly, funseeking, flexible adventurers who never really know what will happen next.
Since when have stereotypes ever been completely accurate or reliable, anyways!? As a bigheaded, obese, lazy American who has relations with Al Capone, I have already proven that I can pull my weight, and respect others as well as my surroundings. ( I should note however, that I am still working on that whole American gangster assumption, though.)
So what is one more stereotype I need to break?
Yea, I am a backpacker! But I am an educated woman who was raised in a good home. I also have logic and common sense too!