TRAVEL TV: Travels With My Father
It’s the famous backpacker route full of millenials away from home for the first time, cheap hostels, unidentified street food, hot weather and alcohol in plastic bags… and yes, I’ve done it. When I moved to England at 19, it seemed that everyone my age was either planning to, or had already been to South East Asia. Gap years, either before University or in the year following graduation, were a right of passage and so many Brits used this time to escape to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and some as far as Australia or New Zealand. So at 21, I packed my backpack, flew to Bangkok, and spent the next year exploring beautiful South East Asia and creating lasting memories- good and bad. TRAVEL TV: Travels With My Father
When I saw Jack Whitehall’s Travels with My Father pop up on Netflix, I knew I had to watch it. The concept: Jack Whitehall, an English comedian, decides to take the gap year he missed out and embark along the ‘backpacker route’ with his stuffy 70 year old father (Michael- NEVER Mike). His father is a posh, well-to-do, haughty homebody who does not care for the calamity that is the poor, western backpacker trying to make every dollar stretch. Jack wants to experience this but it is clear that given the options, he is going hotel over hostel. Fair play, mate.
The pair go from Thailand to Cambodia to Vietnam: the conflict is predictable (‘I’m not staying in a hostel! I’m posh!’), the experiences foreseeable and the humour is definitely your Dad’s (+ the F word a lot), but it is perfect. Jack’s father is irritable, stubborn and dry, refusing to take part in the famous full moon parties, street side dining and the ‘traditional’ Asian activities that are so typical of the gap year backpacker.
For me, the show brought back many memories of my days on the road but also showed me things that I had missed. I mean, if I had had a camera crew with me, I’m sure that I would’ve had more unique experiences and more people willing to help me out. I too could’ve had a tour guide, checked out art galleries and enjoyed elephant polo but hey ho.
At times, it feels staged. Very quickly, the pair over ride some of the grittier aspects of backpacking like washing your clothes in a bathroom sink or hitchhiking your way to Cambodia with a bunch of Australians you just met or drunkenly trying to find your way back to a hostel at 3am…or other things that I heard can happen…. They do use a hole in the ground as a toilet and sleep in a hammock which is in fact accurate.
While this show is slightly cheesy, it is definitely a lot of fun. Jack and his Dad learn about each other, new cultures and just how much they love being English. Does it make me want to go back to SouthEast Asia? Absolutely. But this time, I will take the hotel over hostel too.