Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The New Walkabout (and Snoring)

On our travels, particularly during our hostel stays, Laura and I have met a wide variety of people. We're not the most outgoing couple, but luckily we can rely on the close quarters of a hostel room to spur conversation. We'd be remiss, after all, not to swap travel tips and stories with fellow travelers. We've had nice conversations with people from Scotland, Slovenia, Wales, Israel, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland, England, many others I'm forgetting, and of course Canada and the US. But most of all, we meet lots of Australians.

The aboriginal tradition of the walkabout is alive and well in a more modern form with Australia's youth. On almost every single trip we take, we share a bus, a hostel room, a table, or at least a "G'day mate" with Australian backpackers, who are always among the most friendly people we meet. They are typically spending many months in Europe as part of a gap year (usually time between finishing school and getting a job/going to college).

I think it's really cool that there is some kind of cultural predisposition to travel among the college-age Australians and I'd love to understand how it has come about (comment below if you have insight). But of course, I also find it a little troubling that we don't encounter more US travelers, considering the United States has 15 times as many people as Australia. Do we lack the same sense of adventure and curiosity? Are we too focused on developing careers? Or do we tend to just travel within our own borders?

In a marginally related note, we encounter almost as many snorers as Australians during our hostel stays. The award for the worst ever snoring, however, actually goes to the lone Welsh guy we've met, in a hostel in Cologne (Germany). He snored as if he was alternatingly coughing up and then swallowing his own lungs and when it started, I actually awoke scared for his life. Had I not had toilet paper earplugs at my disposal, I might have woke him up with an attempt to dislodge his internal organs from his breathing path via the Heimlich maneuver. Instead, one of his buddies, accustomed to but not happy with the racket, threw a shoe at him. (He awoke with a GRRRUMPH, and all was again right with the world.)

16 comments:

Shanda said...

I too have always loved how the Europeans and other cultures have extended "Holiday" travels. I think there is less Americans who do it because our jobs are less flexible and we are lucky to get a week or two of vacation time a year. We can definitely learn a thing or two from other cultures though!

What a wonderful experience you are sharing together!!

Congrats on being featured at SITS!!

Aunt Spicy said...

Oh, I love meeting up with Australians when I travel...and I may get to go there next month, yahoo!

Jenn Calling Home said...

Okay, I am so jealous. What a wonderful opportunity. Congrats on being featured at SITS. Blessings!

Stephanie E said...

Congrats on being SAUCY!!!!!!

momma said...

sounds like you are having a wonderful and interesting time. what a great adventure!!

congrats on being saucy!

Tamara aka Cheapskate Mom said...

Congrats on being saucy!!

Steph at Problem Solvin' Mom said...

I wish it were part of the American culture to take time off and travel! Vacation time and maternity benefits are far superior in other parts of the world...sigh!

Love the snoring story, too funny!

Little Birdie Secrets said...

Congrats on being saucy at SITS!

The Blonde Duck said...

Saying hi from SITS!

Melissa Papaj Photography said...

Hello! I saw your blog on SITS and have really enjoyed reading it! Sounds like you are having some crazy adventures!

Sarah said...

Congrats on being saucy!

Man and Kat said...

Stopping by from SITS. Congrats on being saucy!

CDB said...

I met SOO many Ozzies while studying/living abroad in college, and never made the connection to the modern-day walkabout. Hm. That's a nice idea right now.

Louisa said...

Hey I'm an Aussie and I've done my bit of travelling. I think it might be because there's not a culture of going away for 'college' or what we call university. People tend to stay in the city their families are in and that they went to school in and live at home while they study, maybe moving into a rented/shared house later in their degrees. That means that sense of 'adventure' and independence doesn't happen with the start of undergrad study.

It's possibly also because Australia is so far away that a) we are used to travelling distances (i think nothing of getting in the car and driving 3-3.5hrs for a weekend away) and b) you have to travel to get anywhere. We can't pop over to Europe/South America/Canada for the weekend or even a couple of weeks holiday so we do it 'big' and go for 3-6-12months at a time.

These are my thoughts for what they are worth.

If you are interested - I didn't take a year off to travel after high school but did go for 3months at the end of my 1st year of uni - I went to Hong Kong, England, France and South Africa. I then travelled overseas ever year for the next 8-9 or so years for a holiday (South Africa again, Malaysia twice, China, Cook Islands and New Zealand, Mexico and USA and a month long trip in Western Australia - which might as well be another country LOL!) My sister took a year off after school and went to Canada, she took another year off last year and travelled through Africa and then to England coming home via America. My brother like me spent 3 months overseas at the end of his first year of uni - in south america and then went back last year for a full year there (he speaks spanisH)

My best friend spent more time overseas than in Australia for her first 5 years out of school and is now 'reasonably' settled but still goes overseas once a year.

So yeah, I guess you could say we like to travel. All this talk makes me want to go again!!!

Louisa said...

p.s. congrats on being 'saucy'!

Louisa said...

I am so glad you thought it was interesting and no just some random, self-indulgent rambling!