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Backpacking is traveling with a backpack. Two versions can be distinguished.

Backpacking is the combination of hiking and camping. It is usually done for recreation, to explore a place that the backpacker considers beautiful and fascinating. A backpacker camps in one place, then packs all of his or her gear into a backpack and hikes off to a different location. This gear must include food, water, and shelter or the means to obtain them, but very little else, and often in a more compact and simpler form than one would use for stationary camping. Long distance backpacking trips may be done lasting weeks or months, sometimes aided by prearranged food and supply drops.

Overnight stays may be out of doors (under the stars or in a tent), or in some sort of permanent shelter such as in a hostel or with members of hospitality services. Hiking and walking trails cover all types of terrain and range in location from semi-developed areas to complete wilderness. The main advantage of backpacking over day hiking is that it allows the hiker to see remote areas that are otherwise inaccessible. The main disadvantages are that the backpack itself greatly reduces the maximum hiking pace, so that less ground can be covered in a day, that the backpack is something of a nuisance and a distraction to enjoying the scenery, and that camping-related activities use up a considerable amount of time.

Backpacking camps are more spartan than ordinary camps. In areas with comparatively high use, a hike-in camp might have a fire ring and a small wooden billboard with a map and some warning signs. In truly remote areas, a hike-in camp is no more than a clearing in the forest.

A large industry has developed to provide lightweight gear and packaged, often dried, food for backpackers.

The Scouting movement (or, at least, the Boy Scouts of America), has traditionally been very involved in backpacking.

Backpacking is also a subculture of generally youthful travellers exploring the planet on a limited budget. They refer to themselves as backpackers because they can be roughly defined as travellers that travel with a rucksack (a large backpack) instead of a suitcase. They often go hiking and camping, backpacking in the other sense, but they more often explore more urban settings. United in having slim wallets as well as a passion for the exotic, they seek out low-cost options such as standby flights (or if backpacking trip is circumglobal, a relatively cheap round-the-World air ticket which permits numerous stops), youth hostels[?], free hospitality services and buying food at supermarkets abroad instead of going to restaurants. They often collect in beautiful places with low costs of living such as Goa (India), Essaouira[?] (Morocco), or Thailand.

They are generally very social, and a highlight for many backpackers is meeting others on the road. They are quick to share advice on great sites, cheap accommodations, and e-mail addresses. Many strive to meet locals wherever they visit but find that the loose network of backpackers makes them feel at home instantly in a foreign country.

Novels about backpackers include William Sutcliffe[?]īs Are You Experienced?[?] (India), Alex Garland[?]īs The Beach (Thailand) and Emily Barr[?]'s Backpack[?] (India, Vietnam, China).

See also: YHA, Tourism, Hospitality Services.

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