If you haven't experienced the excitement and adventure of backpacking, you are in for a treat. Thousands of people all over the world have fallen in love with this way of budget travel, their life in a backpack and wind in their hair.
Backpacking a country or continent promises the richest experiences
So what exactly is backpacking?
Backpacking refers to a travel adventure when someone packs everything they will need into a backpack and hops from hostels, backpackers or camp sites taking their time exploring a certain country or continent. Backpackers usually get around with public transport, shuttles, hop-on/hop-off bus services and sometimes car rental. Backpacking attracts people who love to explore and who are curious by nature. This mode of travel is a budget travel option but offers rich experiences that staying in guest houses and hotels don't offer. Those who crave the outdoors and enjoy mingling with foreigners and locals tend enjoy backpacking the most.
A scholar's dream
Books are informative, but they can't give you the real "life experience". With backpacking you find countless opportunities to get a true feel for the history and culture of a place because you’re staying within suburbs at favourite local spots. Chat to someone who has spent some time backpacking and you're guaranteed dozens of fascinating stories as they share their unforgettable memories with you.
It’s economical backpacking
Backpacking isn't generally geared toward regular tourists, but is more suited for those who seek an adventurous holiday. The cheapest way to backpack Africa is to carry a tent and sleeping bag with you and take advantage of the cheap camping fees. Dorm room accommodation is also a very affordable accommodation option along the way.
Different types of backpacking
This form of backpacking has become all the rage among young travllers. It involves everything from feather-light packs to palm-sized sleeping bags (when folded - duh). Ultralight backpackers go the extra mile, weighing every gram: breaking their toothbrushes in two to ease the burden, buying light clothing and surviving on the bare essentials.
This may not seem too appealing at first, but many see the value in it after months of lugging their baggage on their backs. It makes adventuring easier, especially with the increase of convenient products being made to cater to this method of travel.
Roughing it is not for everyone. Some would prefer to have the backpacking experience without having to sacrifice too much on convenience and technology.
Also relatively new, this form of backpacking is more expensive and gives a definite boost to your living standards. This is great for anyone who craves the best of both worlds: to be out with the crickets in the thick of nature whilst still having creature comforts like laptops, music, cell phones and more space in their rooms. This may be a little less economical, but if you can afford it, it's a tempting option.
Backpacking is easier than ever before
Things have improved vastly for the aspiring backpacker over the years seeing as the backpacking way of travel has grown so much in Africa over the last ten years. Airlines are cheaper, wilder countries are safer and tourism has really become geared towards those travelling on a budget. You'll find a huge selection of budget lodgings, organised hikes and like-minded groups to travel with – everywhere you go.
Article by: Kerry Beetge
Kerry is an avid budget traveller and writer who loves cooking, reading and discovering local, secret gems.