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The Enthusiasm and Thrill of BackPacking

May 8, 2008
Backpacking Wondering what backpacking really is? The definition is varied but the bottom line is that Backpacking is low-budget, independent, round the world, off-the-beaten-track traveling. It is for those travelers who are averse to lots of luggage and conventional package holidays.

Backpacking is a term that has historically been used to denote a form of low-cost, independent international travel. Backpacking is slowly but surely turning into a subculture of generally youthful travelers exploring the planet on a limited budget. The name connotes travelers that travel with a rucksack (a large backpack) instead of the usual holiday suitcase. They may go hiking and camping, backpacking in the other sense, but they more often explore more urban settings.

This is an infectious sub-culture attracting enthusiastic and intrepid travelers everywhere. The determining factor is to see as much of the world as possible on slim wallets; a passion for exotic places at the least cost.

The adventure is all about low-cost options such as sharing lifts, last minute flights, relatively cheap round-the-world air ticket which permits numerous stops, youth hostels, free hospitality services and buying food at supermarkets abroad instead of going to restaurants. Some backpackers get free accommodation by teaching the local people in return for their services. Some simply volunteer their time and skills as they travel.

The most popular backpacking destination is undoubtedly Australia. The key advantage of backpacking in Australia is that, if you're aged between 18-30, you qualify for a working holiday visa. Other attractive destinations include beautiful places with low costs of living such as Africa, South America, India, Morocco and even Thailand.

Destinations being exotic means travelers must change their lifestyle accordingly. You may have to live with the bare essentials. You may have to get accustomed to habits and facilities such as pit latrines, going without running water and even the luxury of three proper meals a day.

Before you go gather information to help you before you embark, from advice on passports and visas,airport parking and travel insurance through to what you need to pack. You can read up on specific gap year advice, find out about working abroad and get tips on transport too. Read through country guides to give you an introduction to the location itself and gain advice about working there. Browse hostel listings to help you find the right budget accommodation.

Remember whether you are Backpacking the conventional way, or tramping or trekking or bush-walking in other countries, you must read in advance, other people's experiences. Such information is crucial in providing trail finders, hosteling information, gear guides, and other travelling tips In your preparatory list remember to put insurance right at the top. It is important to get the right cover for the type of trip you are undertaking.

Safety and your health are important while away from home, is the most important. Remember the risks posed by Hypothermia if you are going to places with extreme temperatures; 'prevention is the best cure' should be your mantra. The dangers of a sudden hostile weather change or equipment poorly conditioned for backpacking can, quite easily, ruin your globe-trotting adventure. We hesitate to recommend children joining you in your trail blaze.

It is recommended that you travel light. Buy Multi-purpose gear if available. Use tried and tested tools and gadgets. You not only need gadgets but experience of using them too. Items such as optics (binoculars, monoculars), electronics (cameras, picture-editing software, GPS, compasses, altimeters, watches) communications (phones, radio, ham radio) are all handy tools.

Backpacking can be a wonderfully spontaneous and thrilling experience but a traveler must afford a great deal of flexibility to enjoy it fully. If backpacking isn't your preferred style just remember that there is more than one way to travel around the world.
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