This post is supposed to be about doing Melbourne, Australia (my home town) as a backpacker. I wanted to write something on how those of us with itchy feet who want to be travelling but can’t (work commitments, saving money etc) can still do the little things to get that ‘on the road’ feeling back, by seeing our cities through new eyes. I wanted to do all the things I would do as a backpacker, but never do as a resident. So I did the research, got the maps, charged the camera and was ready to hit the town when I realised that Melbourne, while a spectacular city to live in, just isn’t that great as a backpacker.
I‘m excited to announce the launch of a new project I’ve been working on. It’s called DigiTraveler and it’s the sister-site to Have Pack, Will Travel.
I’ve reviewed and featured products here before, but I’m looking to separate them and expose my inner geek over at DigiTraveler. I hope this site site proves to be helpful for travelers with gadget-lust, digital nomads, and location independent professionals.
I encourage you to stop by, sign up for updates, and maybe even leave a comment somewhere if you are so inclined.
I‘m writing this post in Northern Thailand, the city of Pai to be exact. I find myself quite inspired by this trip I’m taking along with resident guest poster Shane Brown. See we showed up to Thailand with only one thing planned, to rent motorbikes and ride through the northern mountains from Chiang Mai to Pai, along the Mae Hong Son loop. Other than that, we didn’t care much about what we did, where we stayed, what we ate, or how we would manage any of it.
I’m so sick of the travel section of most mainstream newspapers. The Saturday ‘Traveller’ section of my local paper is pretty much pages and pages of advertisements thinly disguised as destination reviews. I’ve noticed that it’s pretty rare to find a less than flattering review written journalists that travel as ‘guests’ of the tour groups, government tourism departments or airlines that they are writing about. They might point out one or two minor niggles but I’d say 95% of the content in those articles are absolutely glowing reviews of the service or company in question.
A funny thing happened to me the other day. I was looking at all my lovely tech toys that could accompany me on my trips – and then I started hyperventilating. It was a sensory overload – a freakout over the simple task of surfing the net, but the conundrum of what do it on? laptop? iPhone? PC? Sometimes there’s such a thing as too much choice. It got me to thinking about technology and travel. I love my electronic gadgets, they’re better than children – they don’t talk back (unless you change the settings to do so) but really when you think about it, most of them are completely unnecessary for the global nomad.
You know that really warm feeling you get about yourself when you do something nice for someone else? What about that feeling of gluttony and selfishness you get when you’re in a foreign country sipping your 5th cocktail of the night, served by someone who earns less in a month than what you’re likely to spend before you go to bed?
Well, you can maximise the former and minimise (though not entirely eradicate) the latter. Try a spot of Voluntourim.
So you want to visit Thailand. That’s cool. It’s a great place to travel to. Got your guidebook yet? Have you noticed all those ‘Must see’ destinations, and the ‘Hidden Gems’?
Well guess what. They aren’t so hidden any more.
You can expect that “deserted beach with powder soft white sand and turquoise blue water” to be full of fat Australians with tribal tattoos drinking buckets of watered down expensive alcohol. That “charming little village with smiling locals and cheap phad thai” is now a backpacker slum bursting with tattoo parlors and crazy Germans on scooters, oh and those locals aren’t exactly smiling because of you, though they are pretty happy to see your baht.
A couple of weeks ago I found myself sitting on a beach in Vietnam, miffed that my year abroad was about to come to a crashing halt, and desperately trying to find one more place to visit in Asia before I would have to go back to work. I wanted somewhere a little off the touristy trail (so not Bali then) somewhere I hadn’t been before (there goes Laos), somewhere survivable on my pitiful backpackers budget (adios, Philippines) and of course somewhere I would find remotely interesting (sorry, Singapore). So that left Myanmar (Or Burma, if you are imperially inclined).