I’ve said similar things in previous posts, but there is a certain freedom in the idea of totally immersing oneself in into a new and different culture, and leaving behind everything familiar for a period of time. Although typical week or two long vacations do offer the opportunity for people to see and experience the world, I imagine that there is a difference between the typical vacation and an extended backpacking trip, where you are more or less forced to experience the culture of wherever it is you are visiting in a more authentic way, not necessarily partaking in the normal mass tourism.
I’ve always been interested in seeing the world (as I’ve probably also mentioned before), and I hope to at some point in my life to experience what other places throughout the world are really like, and go beyond the normal touristy site-seeing and hotel-staying. And although I hope to study abroad at some point, I would like to be able to see more of the world than studying abroad allows, and backpacking abroad, or even in the United States for that matter, would offer the perfect opportunity.
Really, there are backpacking trips suitable for practically anyone, depending on your interests and what it is you want your experience to be comprised of. There are wilderness backpacking trips in the United States in state parks like Yosemite, Yellowstone and through the rugged terrain of Alaska. If you’re hoping to experience a backpacking expedition abroad, but still want the experience of camping, hiking, being immersed into nature, etc., there are backpacking expeditions one can sign up for in places like Australia, where you get the chance to explore areas that relatively few people have ever seen. I hope that someday I will have the opportunity to experience one of these wilderness trips as well, but the first area of the world that I hope to backpack through is Europe/Asia.
Backpacking in Europe normally consists of staying in hostels, site seeing, and really doing and experiencing whatever you choose, depending on your budget. One source I found, which included some eating out, shopping, and staying in hotels, averaged that a normal backpacking trip through Europe costs about $5,500 dollars per person, not including plane travel. Now of course, this cost is completely dependent on how long you choose to travel for, and how much shopping/eating out you plan on doing. Heck, if you’re up for sleeping on streets or campgrounds as opposed to hostels, you could probably significantly reduce the cost. But I like sleeping in beds, so I think I’d just pay the extra money.
I hope that someday I have the freedom, the funds, and the time to pick up and go to Europe for a month or so. Just to be able to see the world, and honestly in part to prove to myself that I can live out of a backpack for an extended period of time, which probably would be my biggest challenge (I’ll admit I’m a tad high maintenence), is an experience that I sincerely hope to have.