There was a time when I thought that the real way to travel was on a shoestring budget. That used to be me, sticking to the suggested daily spend in Lonely Planet (always a stretch, by the way), eating at dirt cheap local stands and restaurants, and staying in guest houses in Asia and Central America.
I used to look at resort guests with disdain as they tanned on their private beaches, thinking to myself that they will never see the “real“ side of a place like I could.
Then, as my income grew and I got a little older, I started craving creature comforts. A TV in my hotel room. A ride on a vehicle in which the number of chickens didn’t outnumber the people. Even, dare I say it, a pizza or other international meal from time to time.
Now, I can’t call myself a backpacker any longer. It’s been a couple of years since I even shoved my entire wardrobe inside of one.
Giving up the “backpacker” label was not easy. But those days are long gone. In fact, I have a dirty little secret to reveal.
Every so often, my boyfriend and I travel to Santa Fe de Antioquia, a pueblo about an hour north of Medellin. Not because the pueblo is that fun or interesting, but because of a hotel.
They have a big tropical oasis kind of a pool with luxurious tanning chairs and mountain views. There is a bar open all day and night next to it.
They have a pool table, a ping pong table, and a little spa where you can get a massage.
You don’t have to leave the hotel to eat – there are buffets three times a day.
Sure we leave the premises sometimes, to go horseback riding or to watch a Nacional game in the central park.
But mostly, I just lay there on one of the deck chairs, letting the sun bake the daily stresses right out of my brain. It’s heavenly.
Even though this new style of travel is more relaxing, I definitely don’t feel as cool as I used to. Can I still talk about that time I rode a 20-year-old van through 9 hours’ worth of unpaved roads in the Laotian countryside with the same kind of road warrior edge I once had?
But I’ve paid my dues – and then some. And I won’t lie. This easier, softer way of traveling is pretty nice.
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