It’s an interesting world I’ve been living in these past few months – transient, fleeting, yet oddly meaningful. I would have never thought I’d get close to people within a few days of knowing them, but it’s hard not to bond with fellow backpackers while exploring a new place together. The countless sunsets and hikes and beaches and waterfalls I’ve experienced would not have held the same meaning if it weren’t for the people I shared those moments with – like-minded travelers from all corners of the globe, some who have left their jobs in search for something different, some who are taking a break to learn more about the world, and some who just share a love for travel. You share dorms with Asians, Europeans, Americans, Australians, Latin Americans; you talk about life and work and relationships and growing older; you gaze with the same awe at beautiful sights; you bond over things that go wrong. You realize that despite the different cultures, accents, hometowns, backgrounds…in the end you are all so similar.
Many travelers doing long trips also tend to bump into each other in another destination. And suddenly you realize someone you had said goodbye to in one place is in your hostel in another place. You laugh at the odds, you shake your head and say “What a small world!” You hug and appreciate a familiar face in an unfamiliar terrain.
They’re weirdly comforting, these serendipitous, fleeting relationships…Sometimes I think we tend to be more honest and open with strangers – there’s less to lose, less pressure to conform. And because of the international, multicultural nature of hostels, I find that backpackers tend to be more accepting in general, more open to differences in opinions and ways of life. There’s less fear of being judged because there is no one majority. Everyone is there simply because they love to travel and appreciate the chance to socialize with different people.
Is it strange that I feel at home with this nomadic crowd? With these people I barely know? Is it because I’m a TCK, confused about the real meaning of “home”? Because growing up, I was never tied to one particular place or one group of people and travelers here understand that feeling of “temporary”? Whatever the case, being in the backpacker world is liberating, simple and effortless…at least for right now, it just feels easy.