Backpacking (urban)

From Academic Kids

Backpacking is a subculture of generally youthful travellers exploring the planet on a limited budget. They refer to themselves as backpackers because they can be roughly defined as travellers that travel with a rucksack (a large backpack) instead of a suitcase. They often go hiking and camping, backpacking in the other sense, but they more often explore more urban settings. United in having slim wallets as well as a passion for the exotic, they seek out low-cost options such as sharing lifts, standby flights (or if the backpacking trip is circumglobal, a relatively cheap round-the-world air ticket which permits numerous stops), youth hostels, free hospitality services and buying food at supermarkets abroad instead of going to restaurants. They often collect in beautiful places with low costs of living such as Goa (India), Essaouira (Morocco), or Thailand.

They are generally very social, and a highlight for many backpackers is meeting others on the road. They are quick to share advice on great sights, cheap accommodation, and e-mail addresses. Many strive to meet locals wherever they visit but find that the loose network of backpackers makes them feel at home instantly in a foreign country. When backpackers stay in one place for a while, they often seek a house-share with numerous other backpackers and are likely to share a room to keep the costs down.

Many backpackers gain temporary work (usually low-paid, unskilled, casual, and sometimes in violation of local labor laws) in the countries they visit. For instance, London's pubs are well known for the number of Australian bartenders working in them; "Irish pubs" the world over hire Irish backpackers, although few Irish backpackers would drink in them. In Australia, fruit picking is a popular job among backpackers, although it can be physically demanding and many accumulate their fair share of blisters, scratches and cuts.

Backpacker culture is perhaps typified by the Lonely Planet series of guidebooks, which is often referred to as the 'Backpacker bible'. The Rough Guide series of guidebooks are also popular.

Novels about backpackers include William Sutcliffeīs Are You Experienced? (India), Alex Garlandīs The Beach (Thailand), Emily Barr's Backpack (India, Vietnam, China), John Harris's The Backpacker (India, Thailand, and Australia) and Ingrid Marson's The Rules of Backpacking (Australia, Thailand, Cambodia, South Africa).

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