Backpacking Travel: Best Places to Go Around the World

What is a backpacker? It could be anyone. It could be you.

All that’s needed is a sense of adventure (and it need not be extreme) plus a willingness to travel light. A packpacker hikes and climbs, but a backpacker also gets on planes and trains or rents a car. Backpacking is a group activity with friends or family; backpacking is perfect for solo travelers. Backpacking is for everyone.

Now all you need are some places to go, and that’s where we come in with several countries plus ideas for special trails and climbs.

Backpacking-Friendly Countries

The ‘learn more here’ links have not been fully vetted by us but seem to contain practical, useful information that will get you started.

  • Australia: A big country, a big continent, a big Outback. Learn more here.
  • Canada: There are about 3,000 miles between British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador. How many will you travel? Learn more here.
  • Nepal: Enjoy the glories of Mt. Everest without having to climb it (unless you want to). Learn more here.
  • New Zealand: Epic scenery, unique cultural experiences, plus exquisite vistas plus plenty of Lord of the Rings-related attractions. Learn more here.
  • Europe: You could take trains almost everywhere but thanks to discount airlines like Flybe and Ryanair, you might as well fly. And yes, there are hostels in Paris. Learn more here.
  • Peru: Whatever you do, don’t miss Machu Picchu. Learn more here.
  • Thailand: Gorgeous beaches, ancient temples, zesty nightlife. Learn more here.
  • Turkey: An exotic combination of Europe, Asia, cosmopolitan cities and ancient civilizations. Learn more here.

Great Hikes, Great Rock Climbs

Most of these recommendations are courtesy the experts at National Geographic.

U.S.

  • Arizona: Grand Canyon National Park – One of those rare experiences that is more awesome than its reputation. Learn more here.
  • Wyoming: Grand Tetons National Park – See why some have called this the most beautiful mountain range in the world. Learn more here.

International

  • Argentina: Fitz Roy Trek – Other-wordly vistas along this Patagonia trail, and don’t miss the views at sunrise. Learn more here.
  • Australia: Bay of Fires – This Tasmania trek takes you through “endless beaches of blinding white sand” and a variety of other scenic terrain. Learn more here.
  • Uganda: The Mountains of the Moon – The Ruwenzori Range is full of surprises, or as National Geographic puts it, “When approaching high-altitude glaciers, you don’t often hear locals say, ‘There are elephants here.'” But it happens. Learn more here.

Safe Travels Checklist

If you’re a novice backpacker – or even an expert – always use your common sense when visiting a new place (and this is good advice for all travelers no matter where they go). Do some research about your destination’s attractions and learn about any safety concerns.

If you’re new to backpacking, consider hiring a guide or taking a group tour/hike. The more you know about your skills – and limitations – the better off you’ll be.

  • Phone: Be sure to travel with your charger (we don’t mind stating the obvious) and look into a portable charger (we’ve seen some for under $20).
  • Country information: The U.S. State Department’s travel site offers detailed information on nations around the world including cultural highlights, scams to avoid, laws you might not be aware of and safety notes. You’ll also find embassy and consulate contact information.
  • Hike Safe: We like the common sense information in this hiker’s guide and no doubt there are others. Check them out.
  • Food and water: If you’ve done your research, you’ll know more about this than we do but make sure you always have something to eat in your pack (like nuts and/or energy bars) and never, ever skimp on water. Fill up at every opportunity.
  • Know your limitations: There’s nothing like triumphantly ascending a steep rock face; there is also nothing like getting stuck on said rock face. You do want to be a happy camper, don’t you?

Now go. Have fun, stay safe. And yes, we would love to hear about your adventures.

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Updated: March 12, 2015