5 signs you know you are a Xennial backpacker (a what backpacker?)November 14th, 2017 | | Accommodation
Xennials are that strange micro generation, the spawn of those born between 1977 and 1983. You remember a late childhood of dial-up internet and your first mobile phone was a ‘brick’, you used it for actually calling people and maybe sending a few of those new and hip SMS messages. You didn’t have social media until your twenties but you embraced it fast – unlike your parents. You have the Gen X cynicism that thinks Millennial travellers have it too easy, but you’ve also got that Millennial zest for life that makes you want proper experiences when you go abroad (even if your travels are now with kids in tow).
If, like me, you travelled in the late 90s and early 2000s, chances are you will relate to these rare Xennial backpacking traits:
- You used internet cafes to send mass group emails relating your travellers tales
Back before Facebook made it easy to gloat about your overseas travels to friends and family, Xennial’s had to actually communicate our journeys through the written word, rather than just a photo and a cliched caption you stole from someone else (“Rome I am in you” seems to be a common one these days). I remember writing long, detailed recounts of all the places I had been and the hiccups along the way (a lot when you don’t have Google Maps or mobile phones) through my Hotmail account. So long that I used to write them up in a Word doc or something similar before I paid real money for my half hour of internet access to actually send and check emails. Sometimes I would even hook up my digital camera and send a few pics, but this was usually too much effort so I would print them off and send photos the old school way – that’s right, through the mail. What an ordeal. Sometimes I even sent postcards but I could never fit enough information on them.
2. Your parents usually had no idea where you were
There was no Skype and calling home was expensive so most of the time your parents had only a rough idea of where you were via a quick phone call or email you may have sent them the week before. But then, you probably didn’t know where you were either. If you were in Europe you had a three month rail pass and made your decisions based on the people you met and the stories you heard. That’s right, travel advice was in real time, with real people. Not based on that cool pic by an Instagram influencer you’d never met. You could also easily lie about where you were going. I once told my parents I was teaching English on the French Riviera, when I was actually drinking cheap supermarkt vodka somewhere in Eastern Europe (back before those parts of Europe got cool … and safe).
3. You did a Contiki tour and still keep in contact with the people you met
Okay, I never did a Contiki tour but I did always sign up for those bar crawls when checking into a new hostel. The ones where you pay 10 euros and get a drink in each bar, only to end up in a nightclub and blow all your savings doing tequila body shots. You met people this way and hooked up without knowing anything about them because you haven’t already stalked them on Facebook through Tinder. You still keep in contact with them now… because Facebook uses your Hotmail contacts to suggest them as friends! Yes you still have that embarrassing Hotmail account with the ridiculous name, but when you got back from travelling you ‘graduated’ to a Gmail account as you had to get a real job.
4. Your travelling companions were bulky Lonely Planet books
Yep, if you weren’t getting travel advice from said people on bar crawls, you were getting it from Tony and Maureen Wheeler and you carried these bibles around in your backpack, despite the obvious back pain. Sometimes I would even (painstakingly) rip out the pages I had used to keep the weight down. These guides had all the maps I needed and let me know how to make my decisions about hostels based on the amount of free internet or breakfast I would receive. You also made room for your discman, leather bound journal, bulky digital camera and souvenir t-shirts.
5. You still backpack but that backpack is now full of kids’ snacks
That’s right, your Xennial thirst for travel has not waned, but chances are you have kids now and your trips involve somewhere with a kids’ club attached to it. Fiji and Bali are at the top of your lists for their reliable babysitting services. You want the kids to be happy while you do something that reminds you of your past like hiking a volcano or going for a dive – things that will get you back to the resort in time for happy hour and kids bedtime.
Do you relate to this? Are you a Xennial backpacker? Tell us your traits.
Written by Alex Harmon