When we think of backpacking, images of over-laden travellers pouring over detailed maps immediately come to mind. Yet thanks to developments in portable technology and the widespread popularity of the backpacking experience there are now more ways than ever to enjoy this form of holiday-making.
So if you’re looking for a more upmarket adventure or even just longing for a brief respite from the traditional challenges of shoestring travel, there are a few ways you can mix the timeless joy of exploration with the advantages of modern hardware to achieve this.
Embrace Your Laptop or Smartphone
Although the notion of exploring parts unknown with your trusty iMac or laptop seems faintly ludicrous at first, there are numerous reasons which make it a wise choice.
Many hostels throughout the globe now contain Wi-Fi hotspots, meaning that you needn’t spend hours queuing for the communal PC. For those who are planning to work or keep an eye on their bank accounts a laptop is invaluable, while the option of using Skype means that expensive international calls are a thing of the past. You can even keep the option of working freelance open to maintain a little cashflow.
Increasingly many of us own smartphones and the benefits of these are potentially even greater. As well as offering many of the luxuries associated with laptops, the plethora of apps available means that your down-time could involve broadening your knowledge of the local language with Memrise or ‘flying’ to advance locations using Google Earth. Just make sure to turn off roaming before you leave to ensure that you don’t return to an astronomic bill, and always back up data!
Search For Last-Minute Deals
One of the great adventures involved with backpacking is the sensation that you never know where you might end up. With the advent of online deals websites, the excitement of not knowing your next destination doesn’t need to mean ending up somewhere outside your price range – or somewhere disappointing.
Many websites now offer over half-price discounts on short- and medium-term stays, for example last minute deals at Groupon, that offer high-quality hotels throughout Europe and elsewhere. Checking the local site of an international company is a particularly fruitful way of finding great value locations as you travel the land; when combined with a longer-term stay purchased at home including flights the savings you can make are remarkable.
For those that bring their smartphone on their travels, you could also benefit from Apps which enable you to discover discounts and vouchers on local restaurants and activities. These Apps also have the additional benefit that you needn’t print off a receipt, meaning that regardless of where you are, all you need present is your phone.
One of the joys of packing a couple of pieces of extra technology means that plenty of things formerly considered necessary can now be jettisoned. Get rid of the travel literature, holiday reading and magazines – instead, download whatever you feel like reading. If you’re planning to send postcards home, or need to jot the addresses of your destinations down, make sure to store them digitally.
What starts as eliminating the small necessities from our packing can quickly free up a surprising amount of space. Although clothes can never be digitized, by keeping things minimal you’ll leave more space to purchase things along the way – often cheaper, and always more fun!