Where to Go

Picking a region or several regions for your trip is as simple as knowing where you want to go.  Which country have you always wanted to visit?  Do you have a heritage tied to a specific country?  If you studied Spanish in school, maybe you would be more interested in Central or South America.

where to go backpacking
Josh*m / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

The top backpacking destinations are those that are cheaper and are backpacker friendly in terms of accommodations, activities, and other like-minded travelers.

backpacking destinations

  • Western Europe – We all know about the classic Euro-trip and western Europe’s backpacker friendly reputation, which makes this region extremely popular for backpackers.  Most cities have excellent hostels to choose from, the English language is spoken almost everywhere, and the ease of getting around from country to country through the rail system and cheap flights appeals to beginners.  Although not the cheapest area, the sheer number of backpackers you will be surrounded with, the options available, and the overall safety factor make Europe the perfect venue for a crash course in backpacking.
  • Australia – Australia appeals to backpackers, especially English speakers, because of the familiarity of language.  It is also cheaper and offers a vast amount of activities through its balance of large cities, outdoors, and a whole west coast begging to be explored by the most adventurous. The only downside is for most people, the plane ticket can be expensive and it can take longer to get to because of its geographic location.
  • Thailand – The exotic nature, beautiful beaches, friendly people and inexpensiveness of this country makes it one of the most popular countries for backpackers.  The large cities in Thailand also provide a good history lesson and culture.
  • Costa Rica – Costa Rica has long been a backpacker favorite, though many say it is overrated in recent years as it is not as cheap compared to the other Central American cities.  This was my first destination abroad, so I may be biased, but the country has a lot to offer in terms of its diversity of the landscape and activities to do and is small enough that it is easy to explore in entirety.
  • Central America – This region is usually more popular among Americans because of its short distance from many states and resulting cheap flights.  The area is budget friendly and due to its compact size, easy to hop from country to country.  It also has beautiful beaches, lush jungles, volcanoes, friendly locals and some of the best reefs in the world. What else could a backpacker ask for?
  • Southeast Asia – Because of its proximity to Thailand and the number of organized backpacking trips going here, countries such as Indonesia, Cambodia, and Vietnam have all risen to popularity on the backpacker scale in recent years.  These countries offer the same perks to backpackers as Thailand, but is thought to be more untouched.   It is unarguably the cheapest area of all the popular backpacking destinations.
  • South America – Peru has always attracted backpackers because of its history, Argentina because of its cities and landscapes, Brazil because of its beaches, and more recently, Columbia, regarded as unsafe and unstable before, is rising in popularity.  There is something for everyone here, and it is budget friendly.  However, since it is a larger area, it can be a little more difficult to get around from country to country, and depending on where you fly into, the initial flight can be quite expensive. Tackling this continent may require a longer backpacking trip.

To dig deeper on each of these exciting and popular destinations before you make a final decision of where your backpacking trip will take you, check out these regions on travel websites like www.lonelyplanet.com or www.frommers.com.  These websites can give you the basics about a country, and once you figure out which fits your budget, level of safety, and whets your sense of adventure the most, you can go out and purchase a guidebook and dive into the details and start planning!

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