Backpacking has been a favourite way to see the world for many generations of travellers but like anything else there is a considerable mythology that has built up around it.
Here are five myths about backpacking that don’t stand up to a little scrutiny:
Backpacking myth 1 – Backpackers are poor
Ok so we’re not minted, and whilst we like a bargain few of us are actually living on the bread line either. Savings play a massive role in the ability to backpack for any length of time and I think its fair to say that most people you set of backpacking have a few bit of savings behind them, they just don’t splash out because they want to stretch their sayings as and stay on the road for the longest amount of time possible. .
A lot of older backpackers are also taking time out from well paid careers and choosing to stay in cheap accommodation for the social side of things and not all of them use rucksacks to transport their gear around. Many major city hostels accommodate those with suitcases or holdalls, giving the traditional backpacking image a new spin.
Backpacking myth 2 – Combined travel tickets save money
Booking a ’round the world’ ticket isn’t necessarily the cheapest way to do things. Additional charges for connections and the competition of regional budget airlines means research can save you more money than simply buying an ‘all in one’ airline ticket so ignore this myth and bag yourself a couple of backpacking bargains. It might mean camping down in a airport for a few more hours than you would like, or taking a 10 hours bus instead of a 2 hour train, but those ‘sacrifices’ all add up in the end.
Backpacking myth 3 – New gear is best
Backpacking gear can be a big discussion topic and there are plenty of brands vying for custom. New brands to the market can seem to offer innovative ideas but often the older established brands are successful because their products get the job done in the best way possible.
Backpacking myth 4 – Language is a barrier
In an age of smartphone apps that can speak translations in real time, the idea of a language barrier is becoming something of the past. Flash cards and a guide book with key phrases are tried and tested methods and knowing a few words in a local language always gets you a long way, and a smile never goes a miss either :)
The only time when language may prove a barrier is when you make no effort to learn the native tongue of the country you’re visiting – you lazy so and so.
Backpacking myth 5 – Hostels are always cheaper
In many cities, hostels are one of the cheapest options but sometimes the difference between a hostel bed and a budget hotel is minimal. In Southeast Asia and South America however, small privately owned hotels definitely offer the best value – but finding them can be difficult.
Going online is not always the best option in these cases and on the ground searching when you get to your destination can sometimes be the best bet although there are naturally some risks associated with this activity so you should always have a back-up plan to keep you safe.