These days, you can find an affordable vacation by going the package route or holding out for a last-minute Groupon Getaways deal, but that’s not going to get you off the tourist map. Instead, seek out a little adventure. If you can strap on a backpack, you have the freedom to buy a plane ticket to anywhere in the world and set out on a potentially life-changing adventure. The people you’ll meet, the places you see, and the stories you collect are far more valuable than a cushy hotel room and pricey restaurants.
Here are six reasons why you should sacrifice a few creature comforts and try out a backpacking adventure.
It’s Cheap! (At Least as far as Most Vacations Go)
Crashing in a dorm room at a hostel will run you anywhere from $6-$20 (Europe tends to be a bit pricier). Still even at the high end these trips are ions cheaper than a typical stateside vacation, and we’re talking about going abroad and seeing the world! The most expensive part of any backpacking trip tends to be the plane ticket. After that your expenses–food, buses, and lodging–are usually at a cheaper price than the States.
Meet New People from Everywhere in the World
Opting out of the hotel experience connects you with people from other places in the world. Learning about other people’s cultures, lifestyle, and languages is one of the best parts of traveling. They share things about their homeland and you share yours. And you usually walk away with another place on your go to list. Plus, for the squeamish there are many hostels with private beds and ensuite bathrooms.
Discover Where to Go
Before you set out on any time, you can have a plan of attack to some extent. However one of the best parts of backpacking is that every time you meet a new person they will have a place for you to check out, some place you maybe hadn’t planned on going to, that they say you gotta see. That’s how I ended up in a mud bath on top of a volcano in Colombia. So you never know! Mingle at the hostels and hear from the people that know it best.
No matter where you go you’re bound to run across something you haven’t had the chance to dine on before. Be it crickets in Shanghai, pescado in Panama, or guinea pigs in Peru there’s a world of culinary adventures to try. This is the time to bring your cojones and dive into whatever the national fare is.
Go Offline and Lose Yourself
Traveling a country or the world with just yourself, a backpack, and some friends is one of the most liberating feelings that exists. It’s just you and the destination and the adventure that goes along with it. The point of these trips is to not plan it all, and lose yourself in the adventure. Enjoy not having a cell phone, don that works and let it all go.
You’re off work, you have nowhere you have to be, and the world is your oyster. Not having a day-by-day timetable on these trips is such an awesome part of it. Say you’re in Bangkok and meet an awesome group of people that are going to a different side of the country than you planned. You can go! Not having anyone to answer to but yourself is mind opening and limitless. One of the biggest life lessons you’ll learn while on the road is that things don’t go as planned. Buses may break down, Tthings may get stolen, you might get sick, but this is a small price to pay to the travel gods.
Discover Some New Backpacks with our report on the One-Bag Solution!
By Laura Lee Jergens for PeterGreenberg.com