Travelling the backpacker route

GEARED with a compass and a Swiss army knife, historic explorers have filled history books by discovering new races, cultures and lands. With the advent of the World Wide Web and ease of technology, travelling has become a tap and click away than the adventurous hobby that it was.

While holidays has become extremely convenient thanks to the easy access and multitude services by airlines, more traditional methods such as backpacking and train journeys seem to have slumped heavily. For those who have always enjoyed grabbing a bag and taking to the road to explore, there is very little that could overcome the joys of discovering unmapped locales and hidden paradises.

Besides the many benefits, backpacking is simple and the perfect choice for budget-minded travellers. In a country like India where no itinerary ever fits everything you want to do, backpacking allows you to see so much more: from lush tea gardens of Darjeeling, holy sites of Varanasi, back-waters of Kerala, trekking around Ladakh or river rafting in Leh.

The uses of smart phones are extremely handy with their impeccable navigation applications that help you manoeuvre through any maze with ease and precision, not to mention updating your Twitter account with your explorations. Unless you are a phone-virgin, there is little disappointment in using these means to help you navigate in a strange land. A hard copy of a map isn’t any less useful and one in hand is much safer than you in the bushes! There is nothing more satisfactory while exploring a locale than doing it on foot and relying on your senses and judgment. Alongside your travel pack, it is also a good idea to keep a notepad handy where you can not only note down your expenses, but also local phrases, their meanings and even some history.

Backpacking also reduces your woes on unnecessary liabilities like excess baggage. If you want to explore a destination, through and through, the only way to really enjoy your trip is by being very precise and brief. The health benefits of backpacking are just as encouraging, as an average backpacker is expected to burn over 4,000 calories per day! 

Of the many benefits, one that stands out like a rose amongst thorns is the liberty it allows to stop, stare, shoot (a photograph) and even settle down where you please. While it is advisable to pre-plan your holiday by making the required stay and travel arrangements, a trip gets slightly more exciting when you camp for the night, impromptu, at a place that appeals to you.

A  train journey, that was once the easiest form of transportation have gone posh with luxury serviced trains like The Palace on Wheels and the Orient-Express beckoning travellers. What today’s traveller fails to acknowledge is that on a train journey, you get to see a lot more of what the city is made of as well as meet and learn so much about the place, courtesy fellow passengers.

While planning a backpacking trip, remember to experience the fun of backpacking. A well-planned route will allow you to camp in beautiful places and move across the country without dealing with unnecessary crowds. And carry that compass!

Speaking Out

By Shirley Matt