So it has been a depressing day, may be a sad week or even a super-boring month. What do you do?? A few suggestions you may get are: “go outside”, “get some fresh air”, “chill-out with friends”, “watch a series of movies from your bucket list” etc. My suggestion; BACKPACK AND GET LOST!
Now for first-timers, “What is a Backpacking Trip?”
Backpacking is a phenomenon wherein, you just dump the things which decide your survival on the roads by yourself into a big back-strapped bag, and go out to explore the world, which starts from the first footstep outside your house.
Wow! I feel the above definition should be utilized by dictionaries to define “backpacking”
First off, you must know that the term backpack itself was coined in 1910s in the United States. Before this term was born, other terms such as moneybag and packsack were used to refer to such bags. The other famous word ‘rucksack’ is a German one and is usually used in the USA Army and in the UK. It’s a loanword that literally means ‘der Rucken’ in Germany referring to ‘the human back’.
Backpacking is being done for decades and centuries all across the world. In initial days it was used to explore new places, to make detailed maps of places, cities topography, vegetation, clans and tribes, and other natural resources.
In olden days such trips were a necessity for a ruler to understand his terrain. Backpackers in those days were known as “Scouts”. They were all trained soldiers, who had a deep knowledge of survival and self sustenance in the wilderness.
Knowledge of this history behind backpacking is very essential. Today whatever we know, the maps we refer, many of the survival tips we use have come from a lineage of such brave travel journeys.
Today backpacking has become a more of a leisure trip. People do it to just take their mind off stress, work etc.
Backpackers have become a niche in the travelling industry. Anyone who is on a tight budget, but wants to be adventurous is considered a backpacker. So do not be demoralized if people consider your travelling budget to be low. Because if so, just show the mockers that what all is a part of your bucket list in the forthcoming travel and still spending much less.
Despite their reputation as tourists on tight budgets, backpackers spend more, travel further and stay longer than other travelers. The typical backpacker is young (18-35 years), educated, adventurous and price conscious. Their travelling style is characterized by the following factors:
Preference for budget accommodation
Most backpackers use the wide variety of lodges or small hotels in India. Whilst they prefer to spend as little as possible for accommodation, they also want value for money and may not always choose the cheapest available. Most of their travel finances are spent on other activities.
Eager to mix with travelers and locals
Social contact (including establishing friendships and partying) is a primary motive. Meeting fellow travelers is also an opportunity to acquire good travel tips. Indian backpackers in common try to make new friends for the soul reason of clubbing into forthcoming trips.
Whilst aware of prices and wanting to spend their money over a longer period, backpackers spend, on average, double the amount of other travelers. Reasons for these are that, they tend to wander off from their main course just to seek that extra adventure.
Though Indian backpacker, have a fixed date of arrival and departure, but the time in between remains an extempore journey. They try to cover as much as possible within that time.
Active adventure seekers
Of particular interest to backpackers are adventure tours and attractions that require active participation. Going off roads, staying with the locals, having local home-made cuisine, participating in various adventure sports makes the crux of their travel.
Gathering funds is one of the biggest challenges for Indian Backpackers. Thus working on holidays, or doing overtime are common methods of getting those extra days of travel.
Saying all this above does not mean that a backpacking trip is completely unplanned. There has to be a few essential things which have to be planned let us go over them one by one as follows:
1. When to Go Where: This is a crucial question because Indian subcontinent has varied climatic condition all across the year. So you would not want to get stuck inside your place of accommodation the whole day because you did not pay attention to the weather forecasts for that region.
- Maps… Maps… Maps: Carry an “As Detailed Map” as available. A few things it should include are legends for Hospitals, Food centers, Police Booths. These may save your life in a life threatening scenario.
- Basic route to follow: Though trips like these are not supposed to follow a pre-defined route, but still a basic outline for your travel destinations should be well defined. This will help you save a lot of time asking locals for places to visit.
4. Culture Study: Having knowledge of the local culture and language is a boon in disguise. This is a very easy way of interacting with the locals and getting much needed help from them. Always remember, “It is their homeland and not yours”. Respecting it will help you gain the trust of the locals and you’ll learn a lot.
5. “Say NO” to your “Drinking Urges”: It is a self explanatory statement. It may seem a bit of moral policing, but trust me, it is something which will keep your senses alert, especially if you are a “Lone Backpacker”.
- Vaccination: This is a life-saving tip. We in India consider ourselves immune to every bug in this world. But you seriously don’t want to go on your feet and come back in a stretcher and be admitted to some local hospital with low resources. The infection on field may not kill you, but the ones in the hospitals may. This is a stark reality of off-beat backpacking trips. Hospitals situated in remote places are sometimes ill-equipped in dealing even simple sickness.
7. Emergency contacts: Always keep a zip lock pouch which has all your emergency contact details. It should have the number of your near and dear ones, the local officials, your family physician etc.
Saying all the above, I still believe that, “It is you who can help yourself”. Wait for my next write-up on “A Backpackers backpack- On What to Carry and Why”.
Till them Happy Tripping, Meet you someday on field!! Adios!