If you've been on the backpacker trail for a short time, such as while visiting a single country, or even just been perusing travel blogs online, you may have picked up on a common answer to the question “Where are you from?” The most frequent answers in my experience have been:
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- Canada (w/maple leaf flag to prove it)
- United States
- Israel (after required military service)
- Western European countries (Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, etc.)
I once read about how Buddhism tends to take root in countries and societies after they reach a certain level of success – both culturally and economically (which once included Tibet). This seems both odd, and completely understandable. Affluent societies naturally value the concepts and things which bring them wealth, yet at the same time, a counter-culture develops which values non-materialism. The growing Buddhist movement in the United States is a prime example.
I'd like to think I've traveled a good bit so far, though I've yet to meet a backpacker from India, a country with 1/6 the world's population. My memory is a bit foggier on any Chinese backpackers I've met, though they certainly didn't make my list above. So on my upcoming trip, while I intend to visit both India and China, I have little expectation I will cross paths with many backpackers from either country.
Perhaps I'm wrong though. Maybe things are different in southeast Asia? Maybe Costa Rica is an uncommon destination for African backpackers? It's quite possible, as China's economic boom continues, the backpacker trail will see an influx of new world travelers. I for one, welcome greater participation by citizens of other countries in traveling the world. I truly believe it helps different cultures understand one and other better. And let's face it, the list of countries above is a homogeneous lot, a reason many of us choose to travel to far lands in the first place.
Which nationalities (not mentioned above) have you come across on the backpacker trail?