The Future of Backpacking

The Future of Backpacking
20th November 2020 Richard Stuttle

The Future of Backpacking

Will backpacking ever be the same again? I have been an avid traveller for over 20 years, spending 10 winter seasons in the French Alps and summers travelling around Europe. In 2003 I embarked on a 2-year backpacking adventure around Australia, New Zealand and Thailand. I have also enjoyed many holidays, like driving the Californian coast in a red soft top Mustang (Extremely cliché for UK travellers but when choosing a car, a red Mustang is the only choice). Due to COVID-19, the freedoms I enjoyed have now all but disappeared, and nearly every type of global travel has ground to a halt.

Living through this pandemic and adhering to the new lockdown measures we have found a new respect for people: the importance and need for loved ones and friends in our lives has become evident. Even if these realisations happened out of fear and not some nobler cause, it’s an incredibly important step.

The tourism industry globally has collapsed, many businesses and large employers who rely on tourism are experiencing unprecedented times and many unfortunately will go out of business. Tourist destinations are having to adapt to new social distancing measures and adhering to their governments’ guidelines. The safety of visitors in relation to contact with others is the highest priority.

Although we might not be able to enjoy the same freedoms or be able to adopt such a carefree attitude to travelling in highly populated locations, I think the future of travelling and backpacking is still bright. In the not-too-distant future, visiting iconic destinations might become an even more enjoyable and immersive experience. If places are not swamped with tourists at every turn, visitors will be able to appreciate a more authentic experience. By reducing footfall and spacing out visitors, historic and natural sites will be able to not only reduce the damage done, but tourists will also enjoy a less tainted experience. They will have more space and freedom to soak up the atmosphere, allowing them to have a deeper connection with some of the magical places around the world.

One potential side effect may be that travel and visiting some of the world’s most beautiful places might become more expensive. Although travel should not become only a privilege of the wealthy, package holiday and cheap flights might become a thing of the past. From a traveller’s point of view, it’s an opportunity to reconsider their reasons for travelling in the first place. Historically travel was a way to enrich life, see new places and learn about different cultures. It was not just an excuse to have a break from work and get a suntan.

Benefits of Travel

  • 1. Global understanding

    The benefits of a travelling experience are vast. The opportunity to find out about different cultures and understand more about how people around the world choose to spend their time is priceless. Gaining real-life insight into other parts of the world helps to raise awareness and understanding of how places evolved and issues they face every day.

  • 2. Meeting likeminded people

    Travelling is not the easy choice, to embark on any holiday or travelling adventure requires a lot of effort. People visit places because they have a desire to do so. Working winter seasons in the French Alps I met people who shared the same love for snowboarding and passion for the mountains. People gravitate to the mountains because they have a common interest, there’s an instant connection which in many cases can lead to lifelong friendships.

  • 3. Mindfulness and wellbeing

    There are many different types of travelling experience. Adventure holidays are an opportunity for people to do what they love in the perfect environment. Whether it be hiking around the Pyrenees Mountains or diving around the Great Barrier Reef. Travellers must be mindful, living in the moment and at the end of the day feel a sense of enhanced wellbeing.

  • 4. Achievement

    Visiting places that inspire you can help to add a sense of achievement to your life. Travel is a challenge, there a lot of skills to master. Months of planning and preparation, thinking about all the exciting possibilities. To have the confidence to get on a plane and experience an amazing adventure can offer satisfaction and a sense of achievement.

  • 5. Finding out about yourself

    Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone can give you a greater understanding of yourself. Many people I have spoken too said during their time travelling they found out a lot about who they are. They developed as individuals, found out their likes and dislikes and importantly discovered new things they would like to do in the future.

There are many reasons to travel, but ultimately it’s personal choice. It’s down to the individual and travel is certainly not for everyone. I would say it’s important to understand your own reasons for going and be completely honest with yourself. Travel is a big commitment and it is not easy – if your heart’s not 100% in it you will have a wasted adventure.

Post Covid-19 Travel

For younger travellers, a backpacking experience is seen as a benefit to most graduate CVs. More graduates each year were planning travelling experiences before finding employment. As we start to find solutions to living in a post-pandemic world and learn the new normal in relation to travel, there will be opportunities opening up to travel in new and exciting ways.

Although today many young people might be thinking more about their careers and getting into employment, it might be worth considering our current situation from a different perspective. Find out about what travel or work aboard opportunities are available until the business world finds some stability and a way forward post Covid-19.

With many sectors going through significant change and shifting business models, jobs are going to be more difficult to find. Remote working for many companies may become the new normal. A positive outlook is that people can work for the companies they love from almost anywhere in the world. If the company is based in London, their employees must live in London and remote working could change all that – people could find a place where they feel at home wherever that may be in the world and work from there. They would be happier in their life, their work may be of a higher standard and could contain different influences from their local environment which could help with innovation of ideas.

No one really knows what’s going to happen in the short to long term in relation to travel and work, but it’s better to view our situation as an opportunity. It might offer something different and open up a new adventure that might not previously have been considered.

Written by Richard Stuttle

Further Information

  • Current Travel Advice

    The Government Website offers country updates and general overviews. Travel Aware contains a host of information with a focus on travellers safety.

    World Travel and Tourism website offers great information and downloadable documents covering many aspects of travel.

    Safer Travel is a website which offers comprehensive city specific travel and safety information for many different countries.

  • Safety Tips and Advice

    Caroline’s Rainbow Foundation (CRF) was founded in 2002 and over the years has collected a variety of different Travel Stories from many experienced travellers.

    The charity over the years has collected safety information relating to many forms of travel, take a look at our Safety Tips page for more information.

    CRF developed an education program for schools, colleges and universities. Take a look at ‘Time of Your Life’ film. Our safety presentations by experienced travellers aim to inspire as well as share important safety tips and techniques.