Sydney, Australia • January 2017 • Length of Read: 7 Minutes
It’s a given that, no matter where you are or what hostel you decide to stay in whilst travelling, there will always be a prick sitting in the corner of the common area plucking the strings of a beat-up acoustic guitar. The travel wanker takes it one step further, however, and instead of relying on their accommodation having instruments for use by its guests, will actually carry their own personal guitar on their back wherever they go. It is guaranteed that they aren’t in a band or making a living as a busker but that they just take it around with them so as to ‘look the part’. It also lets them strum the same four chords every so often when they want to try and pick up some chicks. [Super travel wanker alert: The guitar has been replaced by a carved ukulele].
There are numerous headpieces that the travel wanker may adorn, the most common of which is the wicker hat that makes them look like they are in an indie pop band. This is commonly twinned with the guitar, as shown in the above photo, to create a more authentic look. Other hats you should look out for are llama wool beanies, Crocodile Dundee hats, and fedoras. I once also met a girl who walked around in an Indian headdress that she'd picked up from an Indonesian thrift shop.
Whether it be a longboard, a penny skateboard, or a homemade plank of wood with some trucks attached, the skateboard is one of the leading symbols of the travel wanker. Unlikely to be able to even pull off a ‘kickflip’, however, these are instead used by the travel wanker to commute around urban areas as opposed to performing tricks. They will scoff at the use of buses or trams, claiming that they are too commercialised and a waste of money.
There are a few different hairstyles that the travel wanker may choose to adopt. For females, it is usually dreads or plaits. This will create a more ‘edgy’ look whilst also allowing them to shampoo and condition less frequently. Males will go in one of two directions. They will either have a longer beard-to-hair-on-head ratio than deemed acceptable by a professional barber, or opt to let their mane flow out into a ponytail before curling it up in a bun atop their head. This can be easily hidden by the wicker hat during the awkward growing process. [Super travel wanker alert: The male has tried his best to recreate the look of Jesus Christ].
Often taking the form of a shark tooth or carved precious stone, these trinkets will have been picked up by the travel wanker in a flea market for a poorly haggled price. Devoid of all meaning, the travel wanker is also likely to have fabricated a bullshit story behind the piece to elicit some form deep personal connection to the country that they bought it in.
The Roll-Up Tobacco
This is particularly common in Australia, New Zealand, and Western Europe, where cigarettes are very expensive. Instead of kicking their smoking habit, the travel wanker will buy bags of tobacco and roll their own darts. In addition to then asking people if they can borrow a lighter, the travel wanker will now also be found trying to scrounge filters and zig zags from other backpackers.
The Knitted Garments
When travelling through Asia or South America it isn’t exactly easy to keep in shape or maintain a healthy diet. Fresh vegetables and fruit are hard to come by, and your carbohydrates intake will likely be through the roof. No need to fear, though, as the travel wanker has come up with the perfect solution. Need to hide that fat ass? Get yourself a pair of elephant print baggy pants in Thailand. Feeling a little pudgy around the waist? Cover it with a llama wool jumper from Peru. [Super travel wanker alert: They have abandoned all clothes that were brought from home and now only exclusively wear items purchased from wooden stalls and back-alley tailors].
The travel wanker can be easily identified from afar due to the ridiculous number of bracelets and wristbands that they have accumulated. This is especially common for the female traveller. They will refuse to cut off any music festival bands so that everyone knows that they were in attendance at Tomorrowland or Ultra, they will have friendship bracelets given to them by people who they will only ever see again on social media, and they wear dirty string pieces that were handcrafted by some Taiwanese child in a sweatshop. [Super travel wanker alert: They are also sporting an anklet].
The Super Noodle Diet
There’s travelling on a shoestring budget, and then there’s the travel wanker budget. Food is not something to be enjoyed by these people, but simply a necessity to keep on living and annoying people with their guitar strumming, skateboard weaving nonsense. They will be found huddling around the kettles in hostel kitchen late at night waiting for the hot water to boil so that it can be poured over their plastic-bagged pieces of dried straw. The only variety in their diets will come from whether they decide to go for chicken, beef, or vegetarian flavoured noodles.
The Multiple Shit Tattoos
On a whole, I think that tattoos are fucking cool. Some are reflective of a time in someone’s life, a special person, or a symbol that they can draw upon for strength and reason. A travel wanker’s tattoos, on the other hand, will be none of these things. The back of the calf, neck, and forearm are the three most prominent places for the travel wanker to be inked, with vomit-inducing phrases such as ‘love, live, laugh’ and ‘forever young’ being among the favourites.
The Backpack Stickers & Labels
Ever keen to express to others how well-travelled they are, the travel wanker will take great pride in purchasing patchwork flags from each country that they visit and sew them onto the outside of their day bag. “I don’t give two shits that you’ve been to Cambodia, Ryan, and no, I don’t have any spare tobacco filters, so please just piss off.”
When someone travels overseas, it is difficult for them to speak about anything else. Hell, I’m guiltier than anyone of this, having written two full-length books on my adventures around the globe. The travel wanker, though, takes this one step further and ends up quizzing everyone they meet on their trip. “How long have you been away? Where have you come from? What did you do there? Where are you going next?” They will then proceed to ridicule you on any part of your trip that they do not deem to have been travel-worthy. “Oh God, you took an organised bus tour around New Zealand? I couldn’t think of anything worse. The only real way to see the country is by hitchhiking in my opinion.”
Well, guess what Ryan, I don’t give a flying fuck about your opinion. Now get on that penny skateboard of yours and race with your thumb out into some oncoming traffic.