Rite of Passage: Tales of Backpacking ‘Round Europe
- 10 April 2003
Backpacking through Europe changes your life. New friendships are forged over a bottle of cheap wine; old friends go their separate ways; you fall in love in the first town and forget about it in the second. You get bored with wearing the same clothes, tired of sleeping in crowded dorms, are not thrilled with the food you can afford…yet you still have an unforgettable, fantastic time.
Rite of Passage: Tales of Backpacking ‘Round Europe conveys the sweetness, glory, frustration and despair of first-time travel in Europe, both in the tales themselves and how they are told. And that’s perfect. Because while we’d like to think of Europe as a land where the buses run on time, where the food won’t make you sick and where travelers are a common phenomenon and well taken care of, the truth is that first-time travel to Europe can be as harrowing, tumultuous and uplifting as just about anything. There’s a reason they call it a ‘life-changing experience.’
With this in mind, Rite of Passage: Tales of Backpacking ‘Round Europe has been put together strategically, presenting the travel experience as chronologically as possible:
- The first chapter, ‘Getting the Hang of It,’ deals with the awkward, stammering introduction to a place that so often constitutes a first encounter with Europe.
- In the second chapter, ‘You Get What You Pay For,’ writers wrestle with the inconveniences, stresses and feelings of impotence engendered by getting ripped off or cheated. With any luck, those fortunate enough to read these stories will travel with their ears pricked up and eyes wide open.
- But it isn’t all bad, and in fact it’s sometimes mind-blowingly good. After all, Europe is the land of romance, and it still speaks the language of love. The Continent, and its denizens, prove irresistible to the authors of the third chapter, all of whom know how to light that ephemeral spark.
- In the end, the whole experience comes down to two things: how travel affects the self, and how it touches others in the world. The final chapter, ‘Being There,’ explores the profound effects of travel on the traveler and those they meet along the way.
These stories were written by young first-timers to Europe from around the globe, not veterans of European travel. Each city, each village, each hill in Europe presents a different facet to different people. These authors have captured instances and images that will differ from everybody else’s in the particulars, but will agree in the spirit of first-time travel to Europe.
Rite of Passage: Tales of Backpacking ‘Round Europe is the perfect travel companion to Europe on a shoestring, Lonely Planet’s budget travel guidebook to Europe.