Today as I was making my way across town to interview for a nanny job (yes, the job hunt has begun!) I was approached by a middle-aged Australian man, apparently sensing that I was from out of town. He asked me if I needed help with directions or wanted the name of a good hostel here in Melbourne. I told him thanks but I knew where I was heading and didn't need any hostel recommendations because I'm moving into a house (true story, but more on that later).
He then said something I found very strange:
"Oh, so you're not a backpacker then."
I was a bit taken aback by his comment but told him that I do in fact travel with a backpack. He responded with "ahh, but that doesn't make you a backpacker."
I guess it was a combination of the fact that I've swapped my SE Asia look for something more respectable looking (I doubt anyone would hire me wearing multi-colored baggy trousers and flip flops) and I'm moving into a (very old and run down) house, but for whatever reason this man did not seem to think I fit into the backpacker category. It made me wonder: if it's not someone who travels with a backpack, what is a backpacker?
So I asked him. His response?
"Somebody who stays in hostels, constantly moves about, does things on the cheap and hangs out with other backpackers."
Hm. This confused me, because
I stay in hostels
I move about (27 countries in 23 years to be exact)
I (generally) do things on the cheap
|$1 noodle bowl, Vietnam|
and I certainly hang out with other backpackers.
|Out for a bday dinner in Vietnam|
|Shotgunning beers in Thailand|
It's not that I was offended by this man and I'm not trying to prove to him (or anyone for that matter) that I'm a backpacker, although I consider myself one. But according to his definition, don't I qualify? And if I don't, what defines a backpacker?