Summer is over. If you listen carefully, you can hear the holiday makers crying in the distance. You may even be one of them yourself. But does the end of summer really mean the end of holiday opportunities? For those of us stuck at University, it can be difficult to think of anything but assignment writing and which book you’ll spend the next hour burying your face in. But, the truth of the matter is, holidays are still very much possible. Sure, sunbathing on a beach can be a struggle in the middle of winter, but have you considered backpacking? A holiday doesn’t need to be all lounging about and getting a tan. Whether you have a week, two weeks, or a month to travel, we’ve pulled together some of the best reasons for you to go backpacking while you still can!
It’s the age old reason to go on any holiday, backpacking or otherwise – with travelling comes the opportunity to meet new people and maybe working a customer services job abroad you can meet new people and make friends for life. But backpacking in particular has a penchant for bringing you closer to complete strangers you might not have spoken to when you’re spread out on a sun lounger by the pool. You’ll be surprised how welcoming and friendly everyone is when you’re backpacking, especially when you run into other backpackers. You can make new best friends in a couple of days tops – even if they only fill that position for the few days that you’re together before you fall out of touch!
While you might go ‘sight-seeing’ on any other holiday, nothing can compare to some of the sights you could come across while backpacking, especially if you put yourself deep in nature. A stroll along a walking path in a forest on your weekend break won’t even come close to trekking the lesser-walked paths through the towering forests you find yourself in. Of course, you need to be careful and make sure you consider every safety hazard, but a little spontaneity could bring you to places you never knew existed.
Backpacking is cheap… but only if you do it right. Buying second hand equipment can save you money, especially considering that most of this equipment might only have been used once before being put up for sale. Plus, with the right planning and research ahead of time, you can even book the best value for money hostels. Some hostels have kitchens for their guests, giving you the opportunity to eat for the fraction of the price of a restaurant. A lot of countries will offer cheap travel options too, whether that’s an inter-rail pass for Europe, daily or weekly bus passes in cities and towns, or even bike hire for the sportier among you.
No matter how much planning you do for your backpacking trip, there’ll always be something unexpected that you can either enjoy, or learn from. Whether it’s the guests you end up sharing with at a hostel, or learning a new skill you never knew you could need, backpacking will always come with new, unexpected experiences. You could stumble across a restaurant or shop that isn’t listed on any websites but sells the most charming foods and items, or taking the wrong path on a hike could lead you to a sight more stunning than the one you originally intended to reach. Be spontaneous and take every curveball in your stride. You never know when it could work out for the better.
Of all the reasons to pack up a bag and go, the personal satisfaction you’ll get from your travels is the best reason of all. Backpacking for the first time is challenging, there’s just no escaping that fact. Even the most sociable of people can struggle having to talk to strangers on a daily basis, especially when language barriers become an issue, and the physical strain isn’t always something that everyone enjoys. But think about how satisfied you’ll be when you return home from your trip and turn around and say ‘I did that’. You’ll have stories to tell, experiences good and bad to remember, and the knowledge that you got out there, and you did something.