Backpacking has been a sort of rite of passage for young people for almost 70 years. In recent years, the number of backpackers has increased dramatically. The appeal of these trips is the opportunity to travel and meet new people without the responsibility of planning a complicated trip. Sometimes these trips can be dangerous, as the Ebola outbreak in Africa has shown, which has claimed the lives of dozens of travelers or infected them.
With many parts of the world affected by this disease, it’s not worth taking risks when traveling abroad in these uncertain times. Whether you are traveling around the world or exploring a particular region, country or city, taking a few things with you and moving from one destination to another is a very attractive prospect for those seeking fun and adventure.
While it’s easy to be tempted by the prospect of traveling without a binding itinerary, the dangers of wandering aimlessly through a foreign country are very real. The sad reality is that you may not be as safe as you think when visiting countries with epidemics.
When considering travel, there are a number of threats and dangers to consider. Unfortunately, Covid-19’s border restrictions have kept most backpackers from traveling extensively, and many are eager to get back on the road. But even when the world begins to open up again, they may have trouble finding their place in it.
Although around-the-world travel dates back centuries, it wasn’t until the 1950s and 1960s that backpacking as we know it really began. Before that, intercontinental travel was reserved for a select few. The concept of carrying one’s belongings, earning a living along the way and staying in cheap hostels was first brought to the attention of Westerners by French writer Victor Segalen in his book Peregrinations of a Pariah (1916).
Today, there are more than two million backpackers plying their trade around the world, many of whom return year after year to their favorite destinations.
An overland route between Europe and Southeast Asia, known as the “Hippie Trail,” proved popular with young people on a budget who wanted to expand their horizons.
The popularity of this trail led to the publication of the first Lonely Planet guidebook, “Across Asia on the Cheap,” in 1973, written by co-founders Tony and Maureen Wheeler.
While backpacking has certainly evolved since then, it generally involves moving from place to place, staying in hostels, finding temporary jobs here and there, and making connections with other travelers.
One of the many attractions of this type of travel is its affordability. Backpackers can sleep in hostel dorms for a fraction of the price of hotels, and the growth of low-cost airlines has helped open things up to those who previously considered travel out of their financial reach.