Gap years, post-school years, graduation – all are times when your not-so-young offspring decide they are ready to see the world. You might worry whether they are worldly wise and street wise but they think you need to stop fretting. As long as they have a good backpack, a phone and some headphones, what could go wrong?
Top three destinations for young backpackers
Students and young travellers looking to delay the process of adulthood and commitment find multi-country hopping to be an exhilarating experience that actually prepares them for life in a way that pictures in a textbook or numbers on a spreadsheet cannot.
From the vivid and vibrant nightlife of Rio de Janeiro to the lush, tranquil rainforests of the Amazon basin, Brazil offers travellers everything they could ever want. Rio is a must-see for all visitors due to the sheer amount of things to do – the social beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema are almost as populous as the busy streets, while a picture atop the Corcovado mountain with Christ the Redeemer is essential.
Ouro Preto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is perfect for travellers as there is a great number of small, family-run hotels in old colonial residences they can take advantage of. Furthermore, the whitewashed buildings with red cobbled roofs hark back to the 18th Century, giving visitors an insight into the architectural history of Brazil.
Greek island hopping is an increasingly popular way to experience the scenery of the Aegean and Mediterranean. From a tourism perspective, Greece is mostly known for its value clubbing experiences but they are also a classic backpacking destination due to the travel involved when moving from island to island.
With cheap food and beer always available, you won’t be breaking the bank when travelling around Greece. One of the best things about island hopping is you can choose to visit an island that suits your mood – for a vibrant, upscale environment travellers should head to Mykonos while a much quieter locale can be found in Rhodes. Those looking to go wild should hop on a ferry straight to Ios – the party island of Greece.
EasyJet flies daily from London to Athens from £64 return and, if you’re backpacking, you won’t need to pay extra for luggage as your backpack could theoretically count as hand luggage. It’s a low-cost, high-beauty excursion and regardless of your personality, there truly is something for every traveller in Greece.
Thailand is an ever-present on top destination lists and 2014 will be no different. In fact, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) claimed bookings for the first week of January were up by between 20 and 40 per cent on the previous year, highlighting the popularity of this backpacking haven.
Thailand mixes thick jungle, emerald seas and exotic foods with aplomb, making its locales a sight for sore eyes most of the time. While prices in Thailand have risen in line with the number of backpackers flocking to the destination – budget accommodation is more like £12 for a double room instead of £5 – it is still much cheaper than Western accommodation. Meals range from £1-£3, while alcohol is around the same price.
There are plenty of places in Thailand that are safe to visit for backpackers. Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pai, Koh Phangan and Koh Phi Phi are backpacking hotspots and feature all the quintessential activities you can take part in – from renting a motorbike, seeing a kickboxing match, visiting a monastery to riding in a Tuk-Tuk.
However, one of the best bits about backpacking is heading off the beaten path and away from the hustle and bustle of tourist-centric areas of Thailand. The island of Ko Kood is full of waterfalls, monasteries and lush, thick jungle that hasn’t been experienced by many tourists while Koh Lanta is supposed to be a “honeymooner’s paradise” that is almost empty every season.
The vibe, the people, the cost and the ease of getting around continues to make Thailand one of the premier countries to go backpacking.
Before you travel; things to consider
Whether you are taking a full gap year or just looking to broaden your horizons, there are any reasons people chose to travel. Many for pleasure and many for work. Whatever reason you decide to explore, be sure to have the right insurance in place before you leave. This will give you peace of mind and you can enjoy your trip safely.
There are some companies that specialise in travel insurance for long stay, multi trip and backpacker travel, such as Alpha Travel Insurance. You’ll find a great deal of useful resource for backpackers on the Alpha Travel site, including:
- The essential gap year checklist – This checklist will help you to keep calm by preparing everything you need.
- Advice for travelling alone – tips for getting around, making friends and staying safe whilst travelling as a solo traveller.
- How to budget for a long stay trip – Take a look at this page for advice on why budgeting is important when travelling.