Rabu, 25 April 2012

Backpacking & Backpacker

Doc : satubumikita
Backpacking is a term that has historically been used to denote a form of low-cost, independent international travel. Terms such as independent travel and budget travel are often used. The factors that traditionally differentiate backpacking from other forms of tourism include the use of a backpack or other luggage that is easily carried for long distances or long periods of time; the utilization of public transport as a means of travel; a preference for inexpensive lodging such as youth hostels; a longer duration to the trip when compared with conventional vacations; and an interest in meeting the locals as well as seeing the sights. It is typically associated with young adults, who generally have fewer obligations and thus more time to travel. They also have less money to spend on hotels or private vehicles.

The definition of a backpacker has evolved as travelers from different cultures and regions participate. Recent research has found that "backpackers constituted a heterogeneous group with respect to the diversity of rationales and meanings attached to their travel experiences. They also displayed a common commitment to a non-institutionalised form of travel, which was central to their self-identification as backpackers. Backpacking as a lifestyle and as a business has grown considerably in the 2000s as a result of low-cost airlines and hostels or budget accommodations in many parts of the world. Digital communication and resources make planning, executing, and continuing a long-term backpacking trip easier than before.


While people have traveled for all history with their possessions in packs they carry on their backs, the concept of modern backpacking can be traced, at least partially, to the Hippie Trail of the 1960s and '70s, which in turn followed sections of the old Silk Road. In fact, some backpackers today seek to recreate that journey, albeit in a more comfortable manner, while capitalizing on the current popularity of the green movement. Giovanni Francesco Gemelli Careri has been cited by some authorities as one of the world's first backpackers.

While travel along the old Hippie Trail has been rendered complicated since the early 1980s due to unrest in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran, backpacking has expanded to other regions of the world. In recent years, the proliferation of budget airlines and low-cost flights has contributed to this expansion. At present, new "hippie trails" are being formed towards Northern Africa in places such as Morocco and Tunisia.

Technological developments and improvements have also contributed to changes in backpacking. Traditionally backpackers did not travel with expensive electronic equipment like laptop computers, digital cameras, and PDAs because of concerns about theft, damage, and additional luggage weight. However, the desire to stay connected, coupled with breakthroughs in lightweight electronics, has given rise to the flashpacking trend. And not only is there a shift in what backpackers carry now, there is also a change in what they use to carry that gear: backpacking is becoming less and less reliant on the physical backpack in its initial form.


Of importance in backpacking is a sense of authenticity. Backpacking is perceived as being more than a vacation, but a means of education. Backpackers want to experience the "real" destination rather than the packaged version often associated with mass tourism, which has led to the assertion that backpackers are anti-tourist. There is also the feeling of "sneaking backstage" and witnessing real life with more involvement with local people.


Backpacking has been criticized, with some of these criticisms dating back to travelers' behavior along the Hippie Trail. Criticism comes from many sides. For example, the host countries and other travelers may disagree with the actions of backpackers. However, the perception of backpackers seems to have improved as backpacking has become more mainstream. Another criticism is that even though one of the primary aims of backpacking is to seek the "authentic," the majority of backpackers spend most of their time interacting with other backpackers, and interactions with locals are of "secondary importance."

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