Of all the glorified methods of travel, backpacking must be the most romanticized. Exploring new land with your own two feet, making your own way and carrying everything you need on your back brings an unrivaled sense of pride. It’s not hard to see why so many young people are drawn to the adventure.
Backpacking becomes even more appealing when you consider the state of the economy, the job market and the student loan crisis going on in the U.S.
According to data collected by Essential Travel, 48 percent of those leaving college, either temporarily or permanently, said their economic situation played a role in the decision to go backpacking. College students and recent college graduates chose to go backpacking to improve their cover letters, learn a new language, gain work experience and volunteer. Predictably, “adventure” and “fun” were top reasons, as well.
The data confirmed that backpacking attracts a younger crowd. 80 percent of those that had already gone backpacking were of college age when they went and 67 percent of those planning backpacking trips were of college age while planning the trip.
The survey didn’t say why backpacking drew young people in, but it’s likely a combination of financial limitations, freedom from full-time jobs and social/cultural reasons.
Somewhat surprisingly, North America and Australia were the most popular destinations for backpackers traveling more than 12 months. A bit more expectedly, Europe claimed the majority of short-term backpackers, with 40 percent.
Whatever the reason and wherever the destination, there are some basic principles of backpacking that apply to everyone. Perhaps the most important rule in backpacking is that you shouldn’t pack what you aren’t willing (or able) to carry. What seems like a common sense rule has proven difficult for many to follow, which is why we put together a list of the things you don’t need while backpacking.