Backpacking (travel)  

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Backpacking is a term that has historically been used to denote a form of low-cost international travel. Terms such as independent travel and/or budget travel are often used interchangeably with backpacking. The factors that traditionally differentiate backpacking from other forms of tourism include but are not limited to the following: use of public transport as a means of travel, preference of youth hostels to traditional hotels, length of the trip vs. conventional vacations, use of a backpack, an interest in meeting the locals as well as seeing the sights.

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History

People have travelled for thousands of years with their possessions on their backs, but usually out of need rather than for recreation.

Between 3400 and 3100 BCE, Ötzi the Iceman was traveling in Italy with a backpack made of animal skins and a wooden frame, although there are some thoughts that this may not have been for a backpack and may have been his snow shoes. In the 7th century, Xuanzang, a Chinese Buddhist monk, travelled to India with his own hand-made back pack.

In the 17th century, Italian adventurer Giovanni Francesco Gemelli Careri was likely one of the first people to engage in backpacker tourism.

The modern popularity of backpacking can be traced, at least partially, to the hippie trail of the 1960s and 1970s, which in turn followed sections of the old Silk Road. Some backpackers follow the same trail today.

Since the late-20th century, backpackers have visited Southeast Asia in large numbers.

Benefits

A 2018 study of over 500 backpackers conducted by researchers at Sun Yat-sen University and Shaanxi Normal University in China and Edith Cowan University in Australia showed that for Westerners, backpacking leads to acquired capabilities like effective communication, decision-making, adaptability, and problem solving, all of which contribute to an increase in self-efficacy, and for Chinese backpackers, acquiring skills like time and money management, language development, stress management, and self-motivation provided the biggest increase in self-efficacy.

Mark Hampton of the University of Kent, writing for The Guardian, argued in 2010 that for many low-income communities in the developing world, the economic benefits of hosting backpackers outweigh their negative impacts. Since backpackers tend to consume local products, stay in small guest houses, and use locally owned ground transport, more of their expenditure is retained in-country than in conventional mass tourism.

Criticism

Backpacker tourism of the hippie trail has been criticized for possibly encouraging urban liberal minorities while insulting Islamic traditionalist theology, possibly leading to the Islamic reawakening in the late 1970s.

Even though one of the primary aims of backpacking is to seek the "authentic", the majority of backpackers spend most of their time interacting with other backpackers, and interactions with locals are of "secondary importance".

Backpacker tourism has been criticized for the transformation of some sleepy towns, such as the creation of the Full Moon Party on Ko Pha-ngan in Thailand, which includes "scores of topless teenagers urinating into the ocean".


See also





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Backpacking (travel)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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