To backpack across a country is divine. This legitimate rite of passage has grown into a widespread and acceptable phenomenon in the span of a generation. The traditional destination of choice has been the continent of Europe, and while it has not diminished as a paradise for the average backpacker worldwide, there are other wonderful places to discover on the planet.

There is no better way to get to know a country or region than to backpack it to death. Stay in a hostel or with a family and get to know where the local inhabitants eat, play and relax. The secret is to approach the unknown with reckless abandon.

Here’s a mixed bag of regions to explore with the proverbial pack strapped to your back, hostel guide in hand, and money belt tucked in your waistband. Some classic backpacker haunts made the cut, as well as some unexploited and underappreciated areas that deserve your tourist dollar. So get your passport in order, start rolling your gear, kiss the job goodbye, and book your passage now!

  1. Southeast Asia
    SingaporeMalaysia and Thailand are just three of the wonderful destinations waiting for you. The region is a fusion of various ethnic groups, bringing with them different culture, language, religion, and best of all, food.Singapore may be the least affordable place to visit in this part of the world, but the modern pace yet traditional appeal of the city-state will never cease to surprise.

    Malaysia is a hassle-free joy to explore by Asian standards. A pluralist society based on a mix of Chinese, Indian, Malay, and indigenous people, has resulted in a fabulous cultural stew. The insanity ofKuala Lumpur is a must to experience, with the notorious Langkawi and the calm, colonial setting of the Cameron Highlands available to cleanse the palate.

    Thailand is the place to be for those enthralled by ruins, temples and deserted cities. Bangkok offers dizzying urban bustle and there is no shortage of quality beaches and wilderness getaways to explore.

  2. New Zealand
    The residents of New Zealand are avid and hearty travelers themselves, although they get lost in the shuffle given the preponderance of Australians abroad.Places to visit on your itinerary include vibrant Wellington, the capital city, perched on a scenic harbor at the southern tip of New Zealand’s North Island. Auckland is a cosmopolitan city of over a million people that is a fine introduction for visiting the gorgeous Coromandel Peninsula and Hauraki Plains to the southeast. The Otago/Southland region is famed for great natural beauty and the Northland region is the cradle of both Maori and Pakeha native culture.
  3. The Greek Islands
    Best explored in the accommodating yet hectic summer season, the Greek Islands are a classic backpacking destination that should not be overlooked, due to the breathtaking scenery of the Aegean and Mediterranean.There are no official hostels on the islands but there is no shortage of affordable places to stay, especially if you travel with a friend or two. Food and beer is cheap as well, and hopping from island to island on a ferry under a clear blue sky is an unforgettable experience. In addition, the islands offer very different scenes depending on your taste and comfort level. From quiet (Rhodes) to trendy and upscale (Mykonos) to downright base and rowdy (Ios), the Greek Islands will suit your budget and style.
  4. The North American Pacific Coast
    From Vancouver to San Diego there is a bounty of wonders to discover along the Pacific Coast. Revel in the architecture and cuisine of San Francisco, frolic in the sand on famed Venice Beach, explore the lush wilderness in Washington State, or marvel at the pristine beauty of VictoriaBritish Columbia.The wonderful thing about backpacking up and down the coast is that your journey can encompass an entire year or be as short as a few weeks. You can restrict your travel to urban areas such as San Diego,Los AngelesSeattle, and Vancouver or you can camp in the spectacular ecological zones of the region. Whatever you desire as a traveler, the Pacific Coast of Canada and the US has got it.
  5. Spain
    Spain is as complete a backpacker destination as there is. There is a variety of climates, from the temperate Basque region to the scorching heat of Andalucia in the south. You can travel on the cheap and lose nothing in experience. The country is notorious for being provincial, which is a benefit to the traveler who revels in regional differences in people, cuisine and culture.Barcelona should not be missed if you plan on visiting Spain. The city is so rich in architecture and museums that you may never want to leave. There are also outstanding art galleries in BilbaoSeville,Madrid, and Cordoba.

    Andalucia features gems from the Muslim era that are outstanding – do not miss out on the breathtaking mezquita in Cordoba. The mountain scenery of the Pyrenees is some of the best on the continent and the coastline is a haven for backpackers seeking a change of pace, from the inlets of Galicia to the Cabo de Gata. For a party scene unlike any other, head for the Costa Brava or the rave and techno haven of Ibiza.

  6. The United Kingdom
    Apart from the appallingly overpriced London (although a definite must for culture and history), theUnited Kingdom is a backpacker favorite. Travelers are beckoned by the rolling hills of the countryside, the warm comfort of a neighborhood pub and the majesty of Medieval castles.Although the weather can be uncooperative during the winter and spring, the secret nooks tucked away in the darkest recesses of Wales and Scotland serve as a constant haven for all that deign to explore them. Of increasing popularity in recent years among students and young professionals has been the city ofDublinIreland, achingly rich in art, literature and character.
  7. Benelux
    The region named for BelgiumThe Netherlands and Luxembourg is one of the most welcoming on the planet. Brussels and Amsterdam are popular with the backpacker set, the latter for obvious reasons involving a certain narcotic and illicit hedonistic activity, but there are hidden gems to be discovered.Antwerp, in Belgium, was named last year by a popular lifestyle publication as the best city on earth in which to live. Many considerations were taken into account in order to compile the ranking, including architecture, culture, cuisine, and social welfare. Other Belgian towns, such as Bruges and Lige offer ornate buildings to gawk at, as well as quaint local museums.

    The tiny nation of Luxembourg has an exquisite countryside, dotted with castles and vineyards and a beautiful capital city. Accommodations are affordable across the board and the cuisine available in the Benelux region is divine. If you love beer, it is the destination of choice!

  8. Scandinavia
    You may need to bring more cash if you visit the area, but this part of Europe is breathtaking. You can visit vibrant urban centers such as Stockholm and Copenhagen or revel in the rugged landscape and fjords. The people are among the most hospitable anywhere and will make a backpacking stranger feel at home in an instant.Do not pass up wilderness hiking and skiing in Norway, cycling in HelsinkiFinland, and the white sand beaches of Denmark.

    Beware of the cost of traveling throughout the region — close attention should be paid in Sweden, where the price of alcohol alone will destroy your budget. Despite the financial concern however, it is worth your while to explore Scandinavia.

  9. Morocco
    Morocco is at the western extreme of the Arab and Muslim world. The imperial cities of FsMarrakesh, Mekns, and Rabat compose a historical network of sites to discover. The grand cathedrals of Europe cannot hold a candle to the majestic mosques that decorate the entire country. The rural geography of Morocco is no less fascinating. From the desert to the Atlas mountain range to the river valleys of the south, there is a plethora of exploration points for even the most adventurous spirit.Casablanca and Tangier are rich in culture and serve as wonderful backpacking spots. A bed is inexpensive throughout most of Morocco and the cuisine is a delight of flavors. Just head to an establishment frequented by locals and prepare to have your palate enticed.
  10. Turkey
    The country where East meets West offers a dazzling array of unique sights to explore. Your currency will go far in Turkey; transportation, food and accommodations are a steal by North American and European s tandards. Where else but in Turkey could you find one of the supreme cultural centers on the planet inIstanbul and 4000 kilometers of Mediterranean coastline?Although there is a fair share of tacky resort areas in the western half of the country, there is an equal, if not greater, number of hidden treasures full of welcoming locals. Your itinerary should include the southern coast, where the Aegean meets the Mediterranean, Cappadocia, famed for fantastic rock formations and of course, the jewel that is Istanbul. When you fail to find words to describe the beauty of the Blue Mosque, you will know why there is no other place like Istanbul.

Be open to different experiences and ask questions in the local dialect if you can. The response you get may surprise you and make your visit more pleasurable. Just remain respectful of local customs and the love will be returned.

For the budget-conscious, as most backpackers tend to be, remember that even the most expensive city can be enjoyed without going broke – you just have to forage harder to find deals. So good luck and happy trails!

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