Backpacking has become synonymous with students in their gap year, but the reality is that there are thousands of different types of backpackers from 18-80 heading off each year to enjoy this cheap and cheerful form of travel. Backpacking is especially very popular among solo travellers and they feel it more enjoyable than luxury travel.
|Trekking is the favourite sport of backpackers|
If you’re not quite sure what the term means, there are three things that define backpackers; budget travel, independence and flexibility. The key to this form of seeing India or in a larger aspect, the world is that it’s not all about fancy hotels and resorts, it’s more about authentic (and cheap) places to stay which you can arrive at unexpectedly and leave at a moment’s notice. The fact that your trip isn't arranged through tour operators or any organisation means that you’re not beholden to anyone, and can basically go where you want while you’re away.
Backpacking allows you the fun of hearing about a great place to visit, and then heading off into the unknown to find. In addition, backpackers usually use public transport while way, because it’s low cost and more authentic, plus travel as light as possible, with just essentials and some extra clothing in their rucksacks.
Famous Backpacker Trail
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when backpacking became popular, but it can certainly be traced back to the hippy trails of the 1960s. these trails were the journeys taken by European hippies from Europe overland through to Asia. A typical route for thousands of hippies was from London or Amsterdam through Istanbul, Teheran, Herat, Kabul, Peshawar and Lahore to final ports of call Goa or Kathmandu.
As we as the trail above, another popular route in the 70s was through Eastern Europe taking in Turkey, via Syrian, Jordan, Iraq and Iran then east to southern India, Sri Lanka and even Australia.
Conflicts between the Soviet Union and Afghanistan made the Eastern Europe route increasingly inaccessible in the 80s, so alternative trails evolved, such as the north Africa trail, including Tunisia, Morocco and Sinai.
|Solo backapacking, solo relaxing|
Backpacker & Drugs
As you’d expect from a form of travel inspired by the hippie generation, there are often drugs available at many of the key backpacking stop-offs. It is a reality you need to be aware of as drug use and possession can be a much more serious situation in some places in India.
Even if you've never indulged in Britain before, it can be extremely tempting to have a try while you’re feeling independent, confident and letting your hair down in a land far away from the pressures of home. Marijuana and hashish are common soft drugs ubiquitous in many parts of India, especially in Manali and Himalayan regions you will find people seek weed from sadhus. It doesn't mean that the laws are more lenient. Something you may not be aware of is that some drug dealers actually have agreements with the local police force to inform them of tourist clients in exchange for them keeping their patch without hassle.
Backpacking Essentials – Must Carry
|For some, books are the essential items|
- T-shirts-easy to roll and light
- Long sleeved tops – it’s essential to cover up
- Pair of trousers – cargo trousers with lots of pockets are really useful
- Sarong – Men and women both can wear this extremely adapted piece of clothing
- Head scarf and cap
- Pair of shorts – bear in mind they aren't acceptable in many places in India
- Sets of underwear
- Pairs of socks
- Pair of walking boots and flip-flops
- Sleeping bag
- Water bottle, especially thermos to prevent leak and keep the water cool
- Swiss army knife
- Toiletries bag
- Notepad and pen
Non-Essential Items for Backpacking (but it’s good to have them!)
- Mobile phone
- Money belt
- Pack of cards – you’ll find it’s a great way to make friends. Learn some card tricks
- Small, light bag for day use
- For women – comfortable pairs of bras
- iPod/MP3 player
- Battery charger
What to leave behind
- Hairdryer – Don’t be finicky about hairdo, leave that luxury items
- Valuables – expensive bracelets, rings etc.
- Food – you can easily sacrifice your favourite fizz drink, or team , your chocolate box etc.
Travel Tips For Backpackers
- Take a roll of bin bags – you can keep dirty clothes in them, put in your
backpacks in one if you want to keep it waterproof and even wear one yourself
to protect from the elements.
- Carry prescriptions for your medications. Don’t put yourself under needless scrutiny of the authorities for any medical drugs you may carry around.