Wikipedia defines backpacking as “a form of low-cost, independent international travel.” In my own words, it loosely translates to a traveling style that requires you to do all the work, from booking to arranging tours, so that you can have all the fun a trip can give you.
Want the excitement and the freedom a backpacker has? Here are our tips on how you can be a backpacker in its truest sense. (Yes, donning a backpack won’t cut it.)
- Don a backpack. Just because we said that backpacking isn’t just about donning a backpack, it still is an important aspect of it. This is the first step to being a backpacker. Sure, it sounds literal, but buying yourself that huge backpack will get you in that backpacker mood. Louis Vuitton luggage cases are to five-star hotels as backpacks are to budget accommodations.
- Book budget accommodations. Even if you have the money to book a Hilton Hotel, choose a more affordable accommodation for your trip. Why? This is where you’ll meet other backpackers with whom you can exchange stories and tips.
- Travel in a small group. Backpacking should let you experience interacting with the locals and other travelers. That said, traveling in a huge group would limit your opportunities to interact with new people. Go in groups of two or three, or if you’re braver, travel alone. Initiate conversations with a vendor on the street or with a man dining al fresco in a restaurant – these are the experiences backpackers enjoy and high-paying tourists miss.
- Take the road less traveled. Skip the tour packages; create your own itinerary based on what you really want to see, not just based on your list of must-see places. If during your research or as you talk with other people in the area, you find out about a place that isn’t so popular, make a way for you to go there and experience something new.
- Spend a long time traveling. Majority of backpackers are young professionals. They most likely do not have families of their own yet, and so they have all the time in the world to spend in a foreign land. If you can afford to go on a sabbatical for a month, spend it traveling different countries.
- Book affordable flights. Backpacking is almost synonymous to budget traveling. Getting a super expensive flight in the business class section of the plane doesn’t fit the backpacker. Kick off your backpacking lifestyle way before you go to the airport. Watch out for seat sales from major airlines such as Zest Air and Cebu Pacific for a local backpacking trip, and meet other economy passengers who, like you, are after the adventures of independent traveling.
Remember that backpacking isn’t just a style of traveling. It is a means for one to be educated on different cultures. They say that experience is the best teacher, and one of the experiences you can have is taking your backpack, your mind and your heart, to places you have never been before.