Hotel Pool

Cheating on Backpacking

Don’t feel guilty if you want to cheat on backpacking and stay in a hotel for one night only. Just don’t make a habit of it.

Hostel Spain

It’s Not You, It’s Me…

I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to. It meant nothing. It was rubbish anyway…

Whatever excuses I come up with, it doesn’t hide the fact that I cheated on backpacking.

Backpacking is for me. We’d been together for just over six weeks, me and my backpack. I’d been couchsurfing in student flats in Venice, slept on a boat in Bratislava, crashed in the world’s worst hostel in Bulgaria… I’ve resisted temptation from shiny, new hotels all over Europe because I love backpacking… and because I’m always broke.

I’m sorry. It wasn’t you. It was me. I was tired. Tired of coming home to the same flimsy hostel beds; tired of having to pay €10 for a locker key that I wouldn’t lose and sheets I wouldn’t sleep on; tired of trying to sleep in a dormitory when some drunk guy from Milan starts looking through every plastic bag in the room at 3am. I was tired of backpacking; tired of every single hostel. So I cheated.

There’s Someone Else…

Hotel Street

It wasn’t anything special. I meant to go to the hostel. It was only down the road from the tram stop. I was in Zagreb, map in hand, fresh off the train from Budapest. I’d shared half a bottle of local brew with some students during the journey, jumped on the tram in the direction of the hostel and was now wandering along the pavement. To the right is the road that will take me to the backpacking hostel Mali Mrak. In front of me… the Hotel Vienna.

The lights are on. It looks welcoming. I fantasise about my own bathroom. Room service. A lock on the door. Maybe even my own kettle. I think about my hostel, further down the road. I’ve already paid for it. I should stick to my backpacking budget and save the money for touring Zagreb.

But I’m already at the door of the Vienna. I’m ashamed of my backpack. I wish I had a suitcase. I’m also ashamed to say, the hostel was the furthest thing from my mind as I checked into my own room, ordered room service and watched TV whilst lying on clean sheets, for which, I didn’t have to pay extra.

The Morning After…

I have a shower in the bathroom with a door that locks and doesn’t have someone else’s boxers draped over the radiator. I order some more room service and watch a little TV. Before I know it, I’ve wasted half a day, and the guilt begins to set in. I grab my stuff, pay, and leave. I don’t look back.

A Bit of Advice

Own Bathroom

Despite feeling like I’d cheated on my backpacking around Europe on a budget challenge, I still think that one night in a hotel did me the world of good.

Hotel Breaks – Afforded Relaxation

Taking time out from hostels and couchsurfing every few weeks will give you some much needed time out, a bit of alone time and a well-earned rest. I emerged revitalised, ready to tackle the next six weeks of my tour with full force.

No matter how great the hostel experience is, sometimes it’s nice not to have to make any effort. It’s great not having to share your personal space, bedroom and bathroom with strangers for just one night, leaving you to catch up fully on sleep and reorganise yourself in the privacy of your own room.

If you decide to spend a cheeky night in a hotel, you’ll be able to take stock of your finances in complete security, spread everything out and repack, and spend some time reflecting on your backpacking experiences thus far. You’ll then be raring to go again, ready to spend night after night sleeping in a three-storey bunk bed in a room full of fellow travellers from all over the world.

Remember, part of the beauty of backpacking is the shared experience, the new faces and different places, the intensity of continually changing your surroundings. But if you, like me, need a quick ‘pick me up’ and a night away from it all, then maybe look at spending just one night in a decent hotel. It may enrich your backing travel experience even further.

The Moral of the Story

In reality, staying in hotels will cause your funds to diminish rapidly and may also sanitise your trip. But perhaps most importantly, you’ll miss out on all the wonderful (and random) experiences that happen when you’re staying in hostels around the world and living out of your backpack. So, do keep it as a one-night stand and not a full-blown relationship.

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