Since those early days, the industry has evolved into something quite different from
what many envisaged. Looking at the advertisements on the net I am sometimes
disappointed to see how commercialised everything has become.
My wife and I sold our hostel ten years ago. I have no financial interest in
backpacking and will do my best to give independent advice.
Q. Why stay in a backpacker hostel?
A. a) It's relatively inexpensive;
b) a good hostel has a communal atmosphere;
c) you can meet people and share experiences.
Hostels come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some are huge resorts that cater for
the travelling party animal. Others are small and laid back. Some provide
accommodation for fruit pickers. Others are more like eco-resorts. Many have private
rooms with en-suite as well as dormitories. Laundries and kitchens are always
provided. Internet access is the norm.
Many hostels belong to organisations: notably VIP, YHA and Nomads . They are
meant to ensure high standards but do not always succeed. Surf the net and see what
they have to offer.
Get personal advice from people who have been on the backpacker trail. Talk to
friends and use social networking sites like twitter and facebook. Different people have
different tastes. Try to learn from people like yourself.
Most backpackers are under thirty but many are older. Backpacking is a state of
mind. I had prosperous middle-aged guys leave the Sheraton and stay with me . They
had been out on dive boats and had met their younger diving buddies in town. When
they learnt that my place had private rooms they booked into my hostel so they could
be with their friends.
My oldest backpacker was an eighty-five-year-old lady from Canada. She was
taking her fifty-five-year-old daughter on a hiking trip round Australia. The younger
woman didn't seem enthusiastic about the enterprise but mum was in her element.
Finally, a note on backpacker buses . Some people love them. Others have nothing
but scorn for the drivers and their passengers . I suggest you ask around and get
advice before buying a ticket. One young lady told me she was using the buses
because she was travelling alone. She figured there is safety in numbers. I wouldn't
argue with that.
10 Other Accommodation
In some countries I've had difficulty finding a place to stay for the night. The
fault has been mine. I've been too casual, expecting to turn up at a new location
and find a motel or campsite without difficulty.