Backpacking has become quite the ‘thing to do’ in recent years, with more and more of us jetting off on gap years, volunteer projects, sabbaticals etc etc…
…but in a world where Instagram travel photos are as common as the grey pigeons on the high street, how can you veer off the well and truly beaten track and see somewhere new, after all, no one wants to be deemed mainstream or stereotypical do we? No, quite simply, so take a leaf out of no-ones book and find somewhere new to explore! We’ve popped together a few suggestions as a starting point for your backpacking destination inspiration…
Skip the generic and over-done Thailands, Vietnams and Bali and avoid all the standard gap-year kids and party-mad Aussies. Instead immerse yourself in much more authentic and one-of-a-kind experience in places such as Mongolia, Laos and little Bhutan.
Mongolia is quite rightly titled ‘The Land of the Blue Sky’, and is just vastness of breathtaking and pure natural beauty – there is 0 chance of over-crowding, claustrophobia or accidental photo-bombers here when all you’re surrounded by is cascading greenery, lakes and untainted fresh air, oh and throw in a couple of ancient monasteries here and there.
Talking of monasteries, hop on down to where ancient traditions meet modern day: Bhutan, nestled between Nepal, Tibet and Bangladesh. Be warned, this isn’t your usual cheap and cheerful backpacking shenanigan; Bhutan can be quite pricey for foreign travellers, as the Bhutanese are very proud and have a sustainable approach to tourism. However, the costs usually cover everything from accommodation to transport, a guide and food. Fill your time with trekking, archery, monastery visits, staring at the Himalayas and eating their peculiarly wonderful red rice! Shimmy on through Burma (also a beautiful place, but stick to FCO advice and stay central!), finally reaching Laos, where all aspects of Asia collide in one explosively colourful, multicultural country. Want luscious landscapes and forests? Check. Want a truly authentic and traditional experience of Asian culture? Check. What about a lively nightlife and exciting cuisine? Absolutely, Laos has it all, but without being tainted by the hordes of tourists, no need to look elsewhere!
How many of your pals are headed off to ‘find themselves’ on the beaches of Australia or scenic New Zealand? Now, how many are cool enough to opt out of the generic and opt into Tasmania or Kiribati? (Even the names are more fun, brilliant start). Get a truly unique backpacking experience, and out-of-the-norm insta photo collage by visiting these stunning islands.
Let’s start with Tasmania, and if the adorable little Tasmanian Devils aren’t enough to tempt you, then the breathtaking national parks, one of the top 10 beaches in the WORLD (called Wineglass Bay fyi) and abundance of waterfalls and Lord-of-the-Rings style scenery definitely should suffice. Being a little island just off the south of Australia, you get the weather, all of the landscapes on a much more manageable scale and again, avoid the annoying masses. WIN. Now, while you’re down this neck of the woods, head on over to Kiribati, which is a teeny tiny collection of islets between New Zealand and Hawaii, where you can sample the best mash-up of beautiful lagoons and white-sand beaches, as well as a sprinkling of cool little bars. The style of living is super relaxed here, so perfect for some post-sightseeing unwinding.
You think of Southern Africa, and first thing that pops to mind is usually safari – think again! SA can actually be the perfect place for a backpacker seeking something outside the norm. Obviously Safaris in the national parks play a massive part of travelling through Africa, everyone eager to catch a glimpse of the ‘Big Five’; while we’re on the topic of numbers, how could we forget about one of the Seven Wonders of the World…Victoria Falls? So there we go, two solid reasons already as to why you should backpack in Southern Africa. Another reason, in our minds, is Lesotho. This African country is completely landlocked and is only a mere 50 years old, it’s also the only independent state in the world that is entirely above 1000m! It’s Earth’s highest country and has therefore quite rightly been given the nickname of ‘Kingdom of the Sky’ (what a cool # that’d make!).
Europe is often overlooked when thinking of Backpacking – the lure of Asia, Africa and Australia can sometimes distract us from what is on our front door step, and what can quite often be the cheaper option. Forget your Paris’, Romes, Barcelonas and other holiday/tourist hotspots, we’re talking about the hidden gems of Europe, and they’re a lot more accessible than you’d first think! Places like Malta and Croatia, to Norway and Slovenia are hiding some of sight-seeing’s best kept secrets. Ever thought of travelling through Macedonia? Nope, didn’t think so, but you definitely should; it has an impressive 34 mountains and over 50 lakes – absolutely stunning places for a hike and getting those all-important backpacking snaps. There is also an array of magical-looking caves to explore, some of the scenery is very New Zealand-esc! On the other side of the spectrum, it has a super old and stunning history of architecture. Some parts of the capital city Skopje is 7,000 years old…wow. There’s so much to explore in this often unnoticed little European country, why not pack your backpack and go check it out for yourself?
Now you’ve had a look through all of that, we’re hoping you’ve got a few more inspirations for your next backpacking adventure, a little different from the norm. Things to remember though of course, are planning your travels (flights and other transport tickets are much cheaper if you book in advance), Visas and travel insurance; we’ve got a rather wonderful piece on what to remember when preparing for your backpacking trip here…so be sure to read up, and finally have a brilliant time you lovely backpacker folk!
Looking to take a more traditional backpacking route? We have guides, tips and advice for the globe trotters amongst us. See the blogs and guides below:
See our guides on traveling South-East Asia
See our guides for travelling to South America.
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