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Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by,And that has made all the difference.– Robert Frost
There comes a time in every backpacker’s trip where they face a travel conundrum, where they have to make a choice. Sometimes it’s a quick decision that really doesn’t matter in the long run, sometimes it’s a monumental decision that will change the course of their life forever, sometimes it’s a life or death decision. No matter how big or small the decision is, at the moment, it’s the biggest judgement a in a backpacker’s life. There are several travel conundrums that a backpacker might face in any given day, here are ten of the most common.
Ten Travel Conundrums Every Backpacker Has Faced:
1. Should I stay or should I go?
Maybe you’ve made plans, big plans. Maybe you decided to spend the next month in silence at an ashram in India. Maybe you committed to teaching English in South Korea. Maybe you used your last dollar to buy a plane ticket home. But then maybe you met your new best travel buddy who is begging you to join him on a surf tour of Australia. Or you met the guy you just know is “the one” while you were drunk on bucket on Khao San Road. Or, you just really don’t want to go home. It’s a travel conundrum every backpacker has faced at least once: should I stick with my plan or change course? Should I follow my heart or my head? Should I stay or should I go?
2. Should I take a bus or should I take a plane?
We’ve all been there: our next destination is either a grueling 24-hour bus ride away or a short breezy 3 hours plane ride. But, the flight is $50 more. To a normal person $50 might not mean too much. But that’s about a week’s budget in Thailand. Do you subject yourself to the nightmare ride or do you take the easier, more expensive route? It’s a choice every backpacker faces.
3. Should I take top bunk or should I take bottom bunk?
Everyone has their favorite hostel room position: top or bottom. Bunk, that is. But it takes some time to figure out what your preference is. Some people like the top bunk: it’s easier to hide up there, you get a good view of the room, you don’t have to worry about other people sitting on your bed. And some people like the bottom bunk: you can fall right into bed, you don’t have to drunkenly climb the ladder, it’s easier to have sex in. There are pluses and minuses to every level of bunk. Sometimes you aren’t given a choice, you sleep where the hostel assigns. But sometimes you are given the choice and you have to decide: are you a top or a bottom?
4. Should I stay at the cheaper hostel or should I stay at the better hostel?
There are two types of hostels: good ones and cheap ones. Cheap hostels are great because they’re cheap. So, the mattresses might be worn out, you might get bedbugs, the lockers won’t work, and you’re definitely not getting free breakfast. But for $3 a night, how can you complain? But then there are good hostels or great, “flashpacker,” hostels. Those come with such luxuries as wi-fi, non-questionable pillows, air conditioning, free breakfast, and less of a chance of being eaten alive. Those also come with a price. So, when faced with a cheap hostel or a nice hostel, you’ll have to decide where your priorities are.
5. Should I go out or should I stay in?
As a backpacker, every night is a Saturday night, so going out and drinking with other backpackers is pretty much why you’re traveling. But every once in a while you’re just not up to another night drinking. Maybe you’re feeling sick, maybe you have an early flight, maybe you’re a little high and just want to stay in. Whatever the reason, sometimes you’re just not up to going out. But you also probably have a bit of FOMO and are torn over the idea of not going out. Should you be good and stay in or go out anyways?
6. Should I stay out or should I go back?
As I said, your whole purpose of traveling is to go out every night. But that just means that you have to make the daily decision of when you should call it a night. There are many factors: how hot is the scene, how hot is the girl you’re out with, how much money do you have. All of those effect whether you’re going home at midnight, 3am, or 3pm the next day.
7. Should I be faithful or should I cheat?
Whether you have a girlfriend who is still at college, a husband back home, or some chick you’ve been banging since Bangkok, you’re inevitably going to meet someone else who seems like a good idea for the night. Chances are he or she is way hotter than your current significant other or, at least, is there and willing. Do you stay faithful or do you cheat? Chances are your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife is never going to find out, so…
8. Should I splurge or should I save?
A backpacker needs money to survive. And, often, that money is finite. Maybe it’s your entire life savings or maybe it’s all your parents agreed to give you. No matter where the money came from or how much it is, it’s finite. It will eventually run out. So for every meal, for every beer, for every bucket, for every hostel, for every bus, for every flight, for every souvenir you’ll inevitably face this travel conundrum: should I save or should I splurge? You might think that a splurge every now and then is OK, and maybe for you it is, but just remember to always think about that extra money in terms of how many extra days in Thailand it could afford.
9. Should I be selfish or should I be selfless?
If you’re traveling in third world countries because they are cheap you’re going to run into many situations where you have to decide whether to be selfish or selfless. You’ll definitely see a lot of beggars and a lot of poverty. You have limited money and resources so it’s totally OK to be selfish in most situations. But if you have a few bucks to spare you can always be selfless by buying a trinket from one of those kids selling souvenirs on the side of the road. You help a cute kid and get a friendship bracelet in return. So it’s win win. You also might be thinking of not riding an elephant or petting a tiger because you’ve heard they’re bad for the animals. But I’ve done both before and the animals seemed fine. So in situations like that, it just depends on how much you care about animals versus how much you really want to do it. Selfish? Selfless? Who cares.
10. Should I poop or should I puke?
We’ve all been there: the dreaded traveler’s diarrhea. Delhi Belly if you will. You probably ate some tainted street food and are now paying the price by running to the bathroom every five minutes. Sometimes you need to puke right now and other times you need to shit. But every few times you need to do both and you need to do both right now. You’ll have to make that split second decision as to whether you should kneel or whether you should sit. Trust me, you don’t want to make the wrong decision. But here’s a pro tip from a seasoned backpacker: grab a trash can and you can do both at once.
Which of these travel conundrums have you faced? which way did you go?
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