Ten years ago backpacking was a different experience to what it is now, although there are some out there who will suggest that it wasn't that different, it was for many. Now backpacking is more accessible for the masses, it is nearly a rite of passage and it is pretty much everywhere you look and turn. In fact, the entire world is pretty much available at our convenience. Seeing as travelling has changed as an industry and for people over the last 10 years it is fair to say that in 10 years time the backpacking world will be different all over again.
So is it possible to predict what might happen to backpackers ten years from now considering the current state of affairs?
- The independent traveller becomes redundant
It's getting there now already is it not? Backpacking is so easy. Everything is available and sorted for you if that is what you need. Is it possible that in 10 years time we won't have to be independent at all. We can get everything booked for us, taken to places to eat and drink and all we have to do really is make conversation with our fellow travellers. Will backpacking become less about the travel experience and the country and culture you are travelling to and more about doing it just because you can. Let's hope not but you never know, it is possible.
- The world gets smaller
Over the last 10 plus years the number of destinations that we can feasibly visit without having to be a millionaire has increased. The Galapagos Islands, Antarctica, Madagascar, Siberia are just some of the examples where backpackers can now visit with ease. However, many of the places we like to visit suffer from us actually visiting so perhaps in 10 years time some of these places like Macchu Picchu or New Zealand's Milford Sound will no longer be available to visit. Maybe the world will get a little smaller for us with regards to where we can travel to.
- The WHV is no longer a gap year but a conscious move away from your home country
The working holiday visa is what put backpacking on the map. It's a genius concept and fulfilled many a backpacker's dream. However, with travelling becoming more expensive and jobs more competitive, the working holiday visa is for those really wanting to stay away from home. More and more we see backpackers spend two years in Australia and hot foot it to New Zealand for a couple of years before seeking residency or moving onto Canada or another country which will allow them to stay. Perhaps we will see less school leavers taking a mere gap year and more graduates or older travellers using the working holiday visa to simply move abroad permanantly.
- Trips get shorter
Holidays are a rite of passage, they are great for your health. The package holiday has evolved with the accessibility of the backpacking market and with new flashpacking options it is easy to see the places that used to be solely for backpackers on a year long trip without having to give up your comforts. As it becomes cheaper and easier to travel further, perhaps we will see less 6 month trips and more 3-4 week trips.
- Blogs replace the usual email
Blogs are the way to travel and make money at the moment. It's a great concept, you write about your trips of a lifetime and get paid for it. However, what happens in ten years time when everyone has a blog and everyone is seeing the same places and sights and eating the same things? It gets competitive and the cash you were making may not be the same. Is it possible that these money-making blogs will become the equivalent of the obligatory email home telling everyone you know what you've been up to.
- The disaster tourism market
As mother nature works her way around the world reminding us all that we are not invincible, areas in the world go through immense suffering and need to be rebuilt. These places take time to slowly rebuild themselves and in 10 years time it is possible that the places having a rough ride now will become the tourist destinations of the moment. With tourism comes cash and if a place is available to visit and won't break the bank it will shortly become a hot spot.
- The Family Backpacking trip
Got small kids (as in young) and still want to explore? I have a little prediction that this kind of backpacking will become much more popular. Who says you can't backpack with small children? Why must you solely go to beach resorts or family friendly parks? This kind of trip benefits everyone involved. Pets are included in a family trip, I would love to be backpacking in ten years time with my cat. Check out the backpacking cat...
Whatever happens there is guaranteed to be a lot of fun happening along the way and fingers crossed we are all still backpacking in some form in 10 years time. With a little appreciation of our planet and each other's cultures no doubt we will see the decline in popularity for some countries and a revival in popularity in others. There is also the chance to revisit places. After 5 or 10 years a place will change, yes it may ruin your original experience but the comparisons will be both crazy and an eye-opener. So what will backpacking be like in ten years time? What do you think?