A Backpacker – a summary

The following are some generalizations on who and what a backpacker is. This should help you get a basic understanding of what a backpacker lifestyle is all about.

Age Group: The youngest backpacker I met was a 17-yearold girl from Chile and the oldest people were a married couple from the United States who were 73 and 74 years of age. On average, most backpackers were between 18 and 30. Duration of the trip: A regular trip for a backpacker would last anywhere between 2 to 3 weeks to 2 to 3 years. I met a Japanese girl in England who had been backpacking for over 7 years. She loved the freedom. When she was low on money she took a job or two in whatever place she happened to be in at that time. Then she would keep on travelling.

Luggage: All backpackers have one thing is common, they all carry backpacks (most with detachable day packs). A backpack is a mobile, durable, light weight, travel bag that can be taken nearly everywhere. It allows you to have both hands free at all times and straps securely and comfortably to your body. Since your backpack is not dragging on the ground like a suitcase, you can cover nearly any type of terrain from stairs, streets, gravel roads, trails, etc.

What to bring: Backpackers only pack the essentials, foregoing many luxury items for the sake of limited space and weight. It is smart to carry the least amount of equipment with you for the widest range of environments.

Adjusting: It takes a week or two to get used to the backpacking life style. At first you are a little unsure on where to sleep, how to move, what to eat, etc. Afterwards you get more comfortable, you can experience the freedom that backpacking can offer.

Accommodation: A backpacker will usually look for the cheapest accommodation in the local area. We choose to stay in hostels, “pensiones”, guesthouses, campgrounds and onestar hotels instead of somewhere more expensive. Simplicity is best. All that is required is a secure place to shower and sleep. Also, feel free to find some accommodation in a five star hotel.

Community: Backpackers stick together and form a support network for each other. In every hostel, it is easy to find friends to hang out with for the duration of your stay. This happens automatically since everyone has things in common – they are all travellers, are new to the city, are often alone, looking for something to do, and are in a place with other likeminded people.

Food: Backpackers usually avoid restaurants as a first choice because they tend to be more expensive. The best place is to get food is at the local grocery store or marketplace. Street vendors are also a good idea.

Transportation: A backpacker will use nearly any inexpensive form of transportation to get from point A to B. No-frills discount transportation is the way to go. Night buses or trains, affectionately called the “red eye express”, can save you time and hotel expenses because you can sleep on the way and wake up at your destination.

Costs: As inexpensive as possible. Roughly, what a tourist would spend in two to three weeks is the equivalent of what a backpacker would spend in two to three months. Freedom: You go wherever you can get a visa or a border stamp. You can stay as long as the country allows and when you get bored of one place, you can pack your bag and head to your next destination.

Why: Backpackers want to see the world, experience new cultures, and learn and do it all economically and with a good deal of personal freedom and independence..