Frat Boy | Backpacker Archetype | Quirky Travel Tale

Firstly, I need to put a disclaimer at the beginning of this article.  As a backpacker one encounters a mixed bag of travellers – most are backpacking for reasons one might expect: culture, new challenges, exploration, stimulation, etc; however, one does encounter those who are in it for other reasons.  If I was writing about the typical backpacker this would be a boring article.  Thus, I´ll venture off into the far fringes and write about one of the worst types one can encounter…FRAT BOY!!!

Frat boy is most certainly male and typically 18-22 years old – slightly above the level of amoeba in the animal kingdom.  Typically spoiled, frat boy is venturing off into uncharted waters for the first time in his life and is grossly unprepared.  In terms of life skills, frat boy may now be able to change his own underwear, on occasion.  When it comes to culture and worldly wherewithal,  frat boys may once in a while turn on the television when somebody else has haphazardly left it on the Discovery network.  However, if such a grievous evil has been unearthed, frat boy will quickly switch it to MTV to preserve his well sought out and deserved ignorance.

Mom & Dad have made a quiet decision back home.  They´ve noticed their ‘darling’ son is a little bit behind in terms of social development and maturity and they´re ever so slightly concerned.  They´ve decided to send him packing to some far off corner of the world with the hope he´ll come back a little bit more cultured and sophisticated.  Armed with the best of intentions, frat boy is dispatched abroad on his parents dime to see if he can ‘evolve’ ever so slightly.

Unfortunately, away from home for the first time, the burden of responsibility now lies upon the hands of mature travellers for taking care of the little prince.  Frat boy is beyond useless and clings on to other travellers like a crusty old piece of toilet paper.  He´s completely incapable of making intelligent or sound decisions on his own: booking hostels, tours or anything of that matter is beyond his comprehension – he doesn´t even have a basic itinerary for crying out loud! Moreover, he´s extremely annoying, culturally insensitive, immature and totally out of vogue from that of a typical backpacker.

Typically annoying is that frat boy has priorities quite different from others.  It´s not about exploring temples, savouring local delicacies or learning the local lingo.  Frat boy is spending his parents coin like a jaded old hag at a slot machine.  He´s never had money of his own that´s he earned and saved; therefore, he´s spending it without rhyme or reason.  He´s always the prime suspect at 4am when one is abruptly awoken by the sound of another hurling all over the floor.

When it comes to night-life, frat boy wants to be the centre of attention.  Away from his parents discerning eye for the first time in his life, he feels as though he´s been given a free get out of jail card.  He consumes beer, liquor and drugs in anything but moderation.  You´ll find him passed out in just about every corner.  With unrefined social skills & a lack of suave & sophistication, frat boy is found striking out left, right and centre with locals, expats and tourists in the romance department.

The major relief about frat boy is that he´s not likely to be in your hair for too long.  His funds will quickly run dry and the inevitable telephone call home is almost a guaranteed certainty.  If he’s bailed out he´ll be sticking around a little while longer; however, chances are he´ll exhaust those funds soon and be on the next flight home.  He´ll have gained nothing from the experience abroad and will go home with a feeling of cultural superiority.  Overall, frat boy gives a bad name to backpackers and those who feel foreigners are nothing more than a collection of obnoxious parasites invading a host country.  The truth is that frat boy is an exotic breed rarely encountered, but for those who have been on the dusty road long enough, he´s likely been on your radar at some point in time or another 😛

Nomadic Samuel Jeffery 😛

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  1. The problem I have with this article is it stereotypes people. I know that you did this on purpose to be funny and that is cool because it is a funny article, and I enjoyed reading it. However, I have no problem with frat boys who are are cool human beings. Not all are total douche bags. There are exceptions to every rule. Some frat boys who are traveling the world on their parent’s dime are very generous and will buy shots for people like Traveling Ted and Nomadic Samuel 🙂 Those people should be encouraged and not hated.

    1. Hey Ted, that’s a valid point about stereotyping. I actually often get inspired by younger travellers. I’ve met a lot who have the kind of youthful enthusiasm I believe I once had on my first backpacking journey. I think it’s great to meet others who enjoy partying and having a good time – it’s what I enjoy as well from time to time. What I find annoying is when I meet backpackers or tourists who are visiting a country because it’s massively cheaper than back home to pursue some of lifestyle habits that do not benefit locals. This extends to all ages. I think it’s awesome to party and have fun but if you’re skipping the local cuisine, attractions and not interacting with locals it casts a negative shadow. I still can remember a joke in one of the first SE Asia on a shoestring LP guides I first read: “Well young lad, I didn’t come here for the ruins,” as he explained to the unsuspecting tourist about his plans to have a ‘sex’ holiday.

      1. I have this fantasy scenario that plays out in my head whenever I or someone around me gets aggravated by the habits of other travelers – I call it the “Smug intervention”. I came up with this when a fellow traveler told me how she was perplexed as to why some people in her hostel never bothered to go outside the hostel vicinity and social circle.

        Like me: Hey, what brings you guys to Turkey? (smugly)
        Like them: We just want to enjoy ourselves. Why, what brings you here?

        At the end of the day, if other people aren’t unreasonably infringing on your experience its really a waste of time occupying yourself with what other people are doing. Of course they can reflect poorly on you but there is a distinction between someone ruining it for you and someone ruining it for everybody.

  2. says: Rhonda

    I completely get this article but I disagree when you say frat boy is a breed “rarely” encountered–it seems more and more frat boys and frat girls are out there roaming the globe, creating travel blogs and bragging about how many places they’ve been and how cultured they are. They say they left home because they wanted to see the world when in reality they spend most of their time hanging around other expats (forming annoying, loud groups) and getting drunk at full moon parties.

    Though I saw plenty of these types in Thailand, they are extremely common in all areas of the world. And in Taiwan you can find them well into their 30’s or even 40’s so it’s not limited to early twenty-somethings.

    1. Rhonda, you bring up some great points! I’ve taught in Korea & I’ve noticed that some expats fit into that category in their 30’s and 40’s. I like to have a good time myself & it’s a part of my travel experience. The problem I have is with those who are there only because it’s cheaper to party than back home. The type that doesn’t try the local food, visit the temples or have meaningful interactions with locals. As you mentioned this can extend to those of all ages!

    1. Ssshhhh, don’t tell anybody else it was me 😛 I hope you don’t either! It’s great to meet people of all ages enjoying a good time on the road but some are there for the wrong reasons.