Nine big, dumb travel experiences everyone should try
Oktoberfest ... hang out with Aussies at the Hofbrau tent. Photo: AFP
Some people take their travel very seriously, which is something I'll never understand. Sure, there are times for extending your cross-cultural understanding through studied interaction, but there are also times for standing on a table and pouring beer over your head.
The following travel experiences aren't smart. They aren't going to win you any awards for originality, and they aren't going to make you any more culturally aware. They are, however, a whole lot of big, dumb fun.
Everyone should try them once.
Coach tours have a bad reputation for being a piss-up on wheels ... but what's wrong with that? Photo: Dallas Kilponen
Do a coach tour of Europe
There's an unfortunate push at the moment from European tour operators to paint themselves as being more than just a piss-up on wheels. I say, the piss-up on wheels rules. You'll barely see anything of the countries you visit – and the bits you do see you probably won't remember – and the only foreigners you'll meet will be Saffas and Kiwis. But if you're young and in the right frame of mind, it'll be the most fun you've ever had.
Go to Oktoberfest
You can hang out with the "oi oi oi" crowd at the Hofbrau tent if you want, or you can go rogue and check out one of the 13 other dens of beer-related sin at this infamous Munich festival. Wherever you are though, be sure to attempt to drink your bodyweight in booze, and eat it in bratwurst.
Go overland in Africa
Paul Theroux doesn't think much of it – but then, he doesn't think much of anything. Overland trucks are Africa's slightly more serious answer to the Euro bus tour, with safaris and adventure sports interspersed with boozy nights in the campsite bar. They're ideal for single or novice travellers with a penchant for fun.
Have dorm-room sex
If you spend enough time backpacking you're sure to wind up in the same room as some drunken couple attempting to discreetly have sexual relations in the bunk above you. The only way to get even with the world on that point is to ensure that, maybe just once, you're a member of one of those drunken couples. (It should be pointed out that there's an age cap on this – do it when you're over 25 and it's just creepy.)
Do "the London thing"
It's a time-honoured tradition, from those pulling pints in the Shepherds Bush Walkabout and pissing away their earnings to those holding down real jobs and enjoying weekends in Brittany. However you choose to do it, there's a reason living in London has become a "thing" for Australians: it's one of the world's great cities.
Have something stolen
This one isn't fun so much as educational. Because if you have something stolen early on in your travelling career – a camera, a laptop, a wallet – you're unlikely to make the same mistake twice. And it means you get to join in all the one-up stories at the hostel bar. ("You had a phone stolen? Man, I had my whole backpack stolen!")
Stay at an all-inclusive resort
Sounds pretty lame, right? I always thought these resorts were the domain of Mick and Shazza who want to go to Cairns and "just relax for a few weeks". But I was proved wrong a few months ago – with the right set of friends and a little sunshine, it's... kind of like a coach tour of Europe.
You probably think Las Vegas is a hideous place of greed and gluttony, but you obviously haven't had your first beer yet. Because after that Vegas undergoes a magical transformation into The Greatest Place On Earth, where you can see and do whatever the hell you want, for the right price.
Party on a Thai island
It's been done before. By, oh, about a squizillion people. It's also of questionable cultural sensitivity, and potentially dangerous. We're talking about establishments that will let you engage in a full-on drunken Muay Thai bout with a proper fighter for the grand prize of a bucket of knock-off whiskey and Coke. If that's not worth watching I don't know what is.
What are your favourite big, dumb travel experiences?