Don’t Believe the Hype!
Backpackers do some pretty strange things: some bond for life over a three-day hike and some would do anything for something labelled free. Some speak more than four different languages, while others have weird backpacker tales that are pure make-belief. We figured that it was time to take a closer look at the most common backpacker myths and why they’re not true.
If something is holding you back from having the best travel experience of your life, chances are it is somewhere on this list. Whether it’s backpacking stereotypes, rumours, horror movies like “Hostel”, these are, in fact, myths!
Want to read some more nonsense about backpacking? How about 11 Worst Travel Advice Ever.
1. You Need to be Young to Backpack
That’s a big bunch of rubbish! Backpacking has no age limit. As long as you have the will to thoroughly explore a country, you can be a backpacker. In fact, one backpacker bus company even claims they have had a 92-year-old passenger!
2. You’ll Have to Carry a Huge Bag Everywhere
This is partly true, partly not. If you tackle a multi-day hike, you may have to carry a pack along the way, but you can leave most of your stuff in hostel storage. For the rest of the time, there is never more than a few minutes of carrying your bag between bus, train, plane, shuttle or ferry to a hostel.
3. Backpacking is Not Safe
As explained in our article, Is New Zealand Safe? Yes, it is!
4. Nobody Will Understand You
If you are a native English speaker, your accent will be understood by everybody here. If you are not a native English speaker, a year abroad will make you fluent! People are kind in New Zealand and will make the effort to understand you. Plus, there are plenty of opportunities to learn and improve your English.
5. It is Too Expensive…
Travelling through New Zealand is cheaper than you’d expect. Bus networks are cheap, flights are cheap, and with a working holiday visa, you even have the opportunity to earn some cash to keep on travelling.
6. … And You Won’t Save Any Money
With the opportunity to work in New Zealand to pay for more travelling, it is up to you to manage your budget properly. Many backpackers end up saving enough to travel the whole country and stopover in Pacific Islands or Asia on their way back home.
7. Everything Will Change Back Home
No, it won’t. Think how much your friends’ lives have changed in the last 12 months Exactly! Life at home will remain the same and you’ll be back in no time and fit right back in. Besides, that’s what friendship is all about. You’ll just have more stories to tell.
8. University is Better for Your Future
With life experience becoming an increasingly popular criterion for universities and employers alike, a gap year is not just fun anymore, it is valuable! Here’s a bunch of valuable stuff you can put on your CV.
9. You Won’t Meet Other Backpackers…
Backpackers live in herds and move in herds. In hostels or on buses, you will meet like-minded people from all sides of the planet that, every year, gather in New Zealand for the greatest migration of its kind
10. … Or You Won’t Meet Any Locals
Unlike the meet local women near you ads on the Internet, locals in New Zealand really want to meet you! You will meet many friendly and approachable people, especially if you choose to work Kiwi coworkers like to socialise!
11. Planning a Gap Year is a B*tch…
… said no backpacker ever! Pick a country (New Zealand, duh!) and go with the flow. Over-planners usually regret over-planning so read a few articles on our website, book yourself a hostel for your first few nights and you’ll be alright!
12. It Will Be Hard to Maintain Good Hygiene
Every hostel in New Zealand has laundry, kitchen, bathrooms and showers. Even if some showers are hard to set on a warm and soothing temperature, keeping good personal hygiene and a healthy lifestyle is as easy as it is at home.
13. You Can’t Go Backpacking Alone
Most backpackers actually arrive alone. But as any backpacker will tell you, you are NEVER alone. If anything, you will not have enough me-time. In hostels or during a hike, in a city or on a farm, there will always be somebody keen to join you for the activity or trip that you are planning. Learn more in 10 Reasons to Travel Alone in New Zealand.
14. Free Accommodation is Impossible to Find
A massive amount of farms in New Zealand are offering free accommodation in exchange for a few hours of work, through WWOOF or HelpX. Every hostel in the country does the same thing and the locals are incredibly welcoming. Free accommodation will be a core part of your trip if you are willing to look for it. Let this list be a good starting point for free accommodation.
15. Backpacking is Only for Hippies
Really?! Do you really think that every backpacker bus in New Zealand looks like this? Not that there is anything wrong with that It actually looks quite fun.