The History and Future of Backpacking
Nowadays, we know that backpackers come in all shapes and sizes, from gap year students to mature digital nomads. As travel becomes more and more accessible to a wider range of people, experts have tracked the changing face of backpacking from the early 20th Century to the present day, and beyond.
Back in the early 20th century only the richest could afford to travel abroad – and it was all about travelling in style. The upper classes would fly to their destination, or take an indulgence train journey like The Orient Express. Backpacking expert Lucy Turner from ‘The Flash Pack’ thinks that these travellers were ahead of their time when it comes to luxury travel.
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Turner sights the next important backpacking group as 1960s style hippies, who preferred ‘off the beaten track’ travel in Asia and Europe. This group didn’t carry many possessions on their travels, and didn’t care much about accommodation – their aim was to wonder at natural beauties and explore other cultures.
The next turn saw the rise of the young budget or student backpacker, for whom travel was a rite of passage into the real world. Once again, this group carried very few possessions, and cared little about staying in very basic accommodation – sometimes even preferring to camp for free.
The rise in student travellers gave way to the tech savvy backpackers we know today, and Turner has labelled this group as ‘Flashpackers’. The modern backpacker is highly reliant on technology, for capturing photos of their travels, staying in touch with home or other travellers, and for booking the next leg of their trip as they go.
This group are more time poor than their predecessors, because of rising living costs etc., but are adventurous and willing to travel much further – as long as they have their gadgets of course.