Looking from the outside, I bet people wonder how travellers form such big groups in so little time? It’s one of the most easiest coming togethers and formations that currently happens when travelling. If you chose a popular hostel, or top rated on Google, then it helps of course. Backpacker groups, from hostels, are a great experience, buzz and learning curve. I have fortunately been a part of some absolutely awesome groups. The best ones were in Asia, beginning nearly 2 years ago, but some of the times I had with them groups I was lucky to be a part of, were really and truly the some of the best times I’ve had in my life.
I’ll name a few of the groups, locations and dates etc shortly. First though, I’ll outline why they are so good or have been for me.
You arrive at your hostel, you’re probably alone, you want to meet people. You’re a traveller. Part of the reason you are there in the first place is your natural curiosity with the world, what it hast to offer and the people in it. You have lived in your home country long enough(it seems) so you want to discuss or meet people from afar and beyond. Perfect. Hostels attract people from all over the world, everything is new to you and they abut you both as a individuals and your life, whether the latter is about what you’ve done or what your plans are. Discussions are easy to make, and the first one is normally ‘Where you from?’, probably the most common phrase in backpacking history. Infact, I guarantee it. It’s the natural question we’d ask anyone not from our country, or even home place. Everyone is happy, has money, free and has plans. So what better buzz is it, to meet new people, in this state of mind and free? Everyone is going to be stoked just for a chat, and up for most things to discuss or do or go see. Ok, maybe some people are going home the next day or the odd traveller who has ‘done this 100 times and thinks he’s a mature backpacker’ may not be as fully enthusiastic, but generally the others will. Within minutes you’ll be chatting away without the thought of the anxious feeling you maybe had when you checked in.
So say you form a group, how neat is that. Mixed of guys and girls, you have banter from both sides from all over the world, listening to new thoughts, ideas, reactions, its too exciting to keep up. You are drawn to everyone’s conversations, whether you agree or not, because its new. You always have someone you have more in common with, get on more with, or fancy a bit more. This is always the case with mixed backpacker groups. Its how it works. Attraction of the new, similar stories, accents or age can draw you closer to someone whether friendly or intimate. “So you want to go see this? Me too”! You have a group to share your experiences with in that place. “Want a beer?”…”Yeah we all do”!
The comfort knowing you are with people, yet still exciting that you are technically alone and hardly know them. You cant rest on your laurels and become too tolerant or use to these people, everyone is still out to be judged. Yet, you have one thing in common, you are in a foreign country, outnumbered by locals and unknown to how it really is out there. You are alone, but not. Friends for life. All corners of the world you will have a place to stay. That’s for sure, but given the availability of social media and to be able to keep in contact wit someone so easy, you have friends for life and them memories in your head every time you speak to them electronically. Memory stored. Reunion is the next plan.
Some of the best groups I’ve been part of are:
- Wolfpack, Bangkok, Thailand – September ’12 – NapPark Hostel. My second day of backpacking for the first time, I fell part of an amazing group to begin my travels, whom I will never forget. I had no idea about travelling or hat to expect. So to be part of a strong 11 group crew, who are all very nice and humble people from all over the world was a perfect start for my trip. Some were more experienced, a mix of ages and sexes, ideas redand interests, we just clicked. At the time, I may have took it for granted but then again I had no idea it would happen. 5 Days together was nice, before we seperated each ways. Reunions with individuals happened down the line and even more recently in 2013, and contact is still kept between us all.
- Pai Packers, Pai, North Thailand – September ’12 – Spicy Pai. So soon after the Wolfpack had rose and separated, I found myself with a fellow traveller, thrown into a group at Spicy Pai hostel. Me and Kate, were a bit shy because our accents were difficult for people to understand (North East accent and Scouse) but we soon blended in. Fr a few of us including myself it was a bit more special. I had the feeling we were secluded, which was only for hippy and cool backpackers, in the North of Thailand. Away fro the islands and hustle bustle of the cities. To a degree this was true, which made it feel special. Maybe 25 of us, crammed together in the village of Pai, sleeping in hammocks and huts, experiencing the nature around us. A huge picture was taken of us all, which to this day is my favourite travelling photo. It summed up a great group of people all wanting something a bit different.
- Laos Love October, Khamanny Hostel, October ‘12– Okay, some people from Pai trundled over the border, but adding a group of Canadians and it felt really homely. Plus for me, a girl was involved. But the whole feel, in Luang Prebang, was a cute and cosy one. Not as dramatic but one I felt was up there with a favourite time of mine.
- Christmas Cockroach Crew, Bangkok, Koh Samet, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Phangan – December ‘ 12. Nappark Hostel(began) – I have to say this was one was the longest and possibly the best. Our group met at Nappark, of around 15, more guys to girls, got on amazing. After 2 weeks in Burma me and a fellow traveller hit it hard in Bangkok for 6 days with the rest of us. We formed mainly by playing ring of fire. We met again in other islands until January 2013, making it a longevity group that moved together. The balance was perfect. To this day, more people out of this group I keep in contact with most, and have had seen again since. Maybe it was because of Christmas and what that brought us together. German, USA, Canada, Brazil, English, Wales, Australia, French, Belgium – what a group!
- Frendz For Life, Boracay, Frendz Resort, January 2013 – A hue group of backpackers all staying at Frendz in the beautiful and eccentric island of Boracay in The Philippines got together. Although was quite big, small pockets clustered together within the group. We had some amazing jam sessions and beach days. With everyone going out with each other on nights. Alot of travellers are still going in his group, Boracay being new to everyone, it was an exciting time.
- The Bieber Babes – Indonesia, Gili T, Bali – Gili Hostel, Kayun Hostel, February ’13 – Having some crazy nights on Vodka Joss, some horrendous dares and cultures from Kosovo to Australia, this group knitted together slowly but surely. Even though some departed by this point, a rented Villa in Lombok was the highlight. Living luxury at 9 dollars a night each with a swimming pool, bikes and surf around the corner. Prior to that, Bali nights out with Zane, from Canada, Justin Bieber T Shirt created the name. Hilarious time. Probably the funniest out of the groups.
I think its a special time to be apart of a group like the ones I have been with. I’m sure most backpackers have had the same. For me, these are the highlight travelling. I’ve had some since in Australia and Brazil, and more for the latter in the World Cup, but the reasons why they are not on the list was because neither times I was backpacking. Australia I was living and ready to work to save again, and the World Cup, although immense, was all guys. It was awesome but because of he tournament people went and go within 2 days sometimes, so there was no real backpacker group vibes.
You will see photos of groups walking from hostels, the cultures differences talking to each other, it’s a great way to see friends made from across the world. We are not all so different, it brings the world together as one. This forgets the stereotypes we have of nations and forget about disputes in the past. Being part of these groups, and I will again, is truly LIFE.