It would come as a surprise should anyone reading this not know of someone with tales of ‘slumming it’. Our generation crystallises the death of the package holiday tourist and the birth of the post-modern ‘traveller’: holidays are now ‘travels’ and escapism is rebranded as a search for meaning and enlightenment. Backpacker culture is not simply about travelling on a budget. It is, to a greater or lesser extent, about buying into this search for authenticity – for the ‘real’ India, for the ‘typical’ Bolivian village, for the most potent culture shock available. One of the most intriguing expressions of this Holy Grail has been the way in which sun, sea and sex has been traded in for squalor.
You would be right to argue that this is hardly new; that it is more of a 60s hangover than a contemporary cultural phenomenon. What is new, however, is the extent to which it is now accessible. This ‘alternative’ t
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