Besides the actual, omnipresent backpack itself, backpackers and general budget travelers are most known for their sleeping spots. Obviously they don’t stay in the four-stars, but nor do they stay in Motel 6. Sometimes it’s a youth hostel, official or unofficial, but even those are slowly going out of fashion. They stay in places I like to call flophouses.
The word “flophouse” sounds bad, and some of them are. They can be dirt-cheap crashpads. Many resemble hostels, with their barracks-like rows of bunks and communal bathrooms. Others are technically hotels, with private rooms, but very scaled-down. The rooms are tiny and contain little besides a cheap bed and perhaps a table or a closet, perhaps not even those. The bathrooms are still communal, down the hall, or may be telephone-booth sized in the room. There’s no space that can be called a lobby, just a common room where you check in and can hang out. It often has a few internet terminals for rent, and some beers for sale. Flophouses can be so cheap and run-down that they appear scary and dangerous. They cluster near the bus and train stations, or in particular neighborhoods in a large city, often away from the center.
That’s the modern flophouse. It’s a cheap place to crash for people traveling without much money. The best exemplar would be something with a name like “Joe’s Guesthouse” in Goa, India. Get a bunk for nine dollars a night or a private room for twenty. It includes little besides access to your bunk and the shared bathrooms, or your small room that doesn’t have much beyond the bed in it. There may be a locker for storage, or maybe you shove your bag under the bed and trust that no one will mess with it. Another example might be called the Hotel Rose, located in some European city such as Lyon. You get a tiny private room for about $36, and down the hall is the bathroom and shower you share with everyone else. For travelers like me, that’s where we sleep; we search for those types of places. Others might pay $185 for a hotel, but I’d rather spend that kind of money on a good meal or just save it and use it to travel more. Every time I see a recommendation for a quaint hotel in England for $200 a night, I laugh. There’s no way I’m paying that.
Those flophouses, and what happens when you travel in that backpacker style, is what this website is about. I’ve been doing it for some time, and though I’m hardly the most well-traveled of the bunch, I’ve been around a bit and I have things to say. You may be part of this world already. If you are, you’ll recognize yourself in these pages.