Safety Tips for Backpackers: Australia

In this tip guide for backpackers (Australia edition), you’ll learn about the main concerns for your safety when traveling down under.

Emergency number

In Australia, dial 000 for all immediate emergencies (fire, ambulance, police). Buy a local SIM card when you arrive so that you’ll always have access to the emergency number from your mobile.

Personal safety

In general, Australia is a very safe country to live in and travel around. But as with any unfamiliar place, be aware of your surroundings and use your common sense.

With backpacking, your biggest threat is likely loss of personal possessions. When sharing accommodation in hostels, or storing your backpack in a camper van, your personal property is at risk.

To secure your belongings while staying in Australia backpacker hostels, carry padlocks for some piece of mind. Make use of hostel lockers and/or lock the zippers on your bags as a theft deterrent.

Keep valuables hidden when you have your car parked. If possible, always carry your most important documents (passport, credit cards) or leave them in a safe at the front desk of your accommodation.

Health Insurance

International health insurance is a must when traveling outside your own country. Make sure your coverage will cover activities that backpackers tend to do, such as skiing and bungee jumping. Australia has great hospitals but they can be expensive if you are not adequately prepared!


While in the past, hitchhiking was quite common in Australia and New Zealand, most guides officially discourage it now. Personally, I have hitchhiked and known others who have done the same, with varying degrees of success. Do so at your own risk.

I did meet one German couple that had everything stolen by a driver that dropped them off in the middle of nowhere. He took off with their backpacks in the boot, leaving the couple with only the clothes on their backs.

Sun Protection

There’s a reason why so many Aussies wear sun hats: Australia has the highest skin cancer rate on the globe. Slip on a long sleeved shirt and wide brimmed hat, be generous with sunscreen, and try to stay in the shade during the hottest part of the day.


Try to swim only in guarded areas that are marked. Australia has some vicious rip tides that can catch even the most experienced swimmer off guard. There are also poisonous jellyfish from October to May in northern Australia. Only swim in protected enclosures at this time of the year.

Shark attacks are quite rare, despite all the media attention that they get.


Normally, no vaccinations are needed before coming to Australia. If you are arriving from a yellow fever infected zone, you will need a vaccination within six days before arriving in Australia.

Backpackers Insurance

In a recent poll on  backpackers .com 4 out of 5  backpackers  said that they take out  travel  insurance when they  travel .

But every insurance company seems to offer something different, and every insurance company seems to take a different approach. So with the rather wide and baffling variety of insurance policies out there, it can sometimes be hard to pick the one thats going to give you the best deal.

Knowing how hard you guys save, trying to make each hard-earned cent go just that little bit further, a number of Insurers have focussed their efforts on developing  travel  insurance products that are specifically geared towards the independent traveler. Good news right? Remember, at the same time, these companies need to make money, and so they need the total premium they earn to always exceed the amount in total claims they pay out. For this reason, you should always check the small print.

Naturally, buying  travel  insurance direct and cutting out the  travel  agent or tour operator can bring the price down substantially, as these middlemen tend to earn high commissions.

Here are a few things that you should check up on before buying a  backpacker   travel  insurance policy:

¥ Are the Insurers accessible? Make sure there’s a 24/7 medical emergency helpline, as this means you are always close to help, whenever you need it.

¥ Does it cater for working holidays? If you plan on working overseas, make sure that there is cover in place for the type of work you’re likely to do, such as bar work, nursing, fruit picking, an office job etc.

¥ Are most adventure activities covered? Check to see if your policy covers EVERY sort of sports and activities you’re likely to do, like bungee jumping, scuba diving and even tandem skydiving Ð the kind of spontaneous leaps we often don’t plan but end up taking when  traveling .

¥ Is there cover for terrorist acts? Terrorism knows no boundaries, and attacks can happen at any time, with innocent bystanders getting caught in the fray. In a situation like that, far away from home, it’s essential to have backup. Make sure you have full medical cover in the event of such an attack.

Backpacking in Rio

Located on Brazil’s Atlantic southern coast, Rio de Janeiro is a vibrant place that remains an abiding favorite amongst travelers and  backpackers . From the famous Rio Carnival to the spectacular beaches and the breathtaking landscapes, Rio is a time-honored destination for  backpackers  looking to let their hair down and have a bit of fun.

Things to Do in Rio

The incoming visitor is simply spoiled for choice when it comes to things to do in Rio. There are some things, however, that you definitely should not miss out when planning your trip here. These include:

1. Days spent lazing around on the city’s sun kissed beaches. The Copacabana and the Urca, for example, are famous beaches that have become an attraction in their own right for  backpackers  locals alike. Spending time here is simply a must while staying in Rio.

2. The Rio Carnival. If you happen to be in town during the week of the Rio Carnival, you’re in for a treat. One of the most famous carnivals of the world, Rio’s become awash with a riot of colors during the festival, and you will find people dancing, singing and drinking into the wee hours of the morning. Simply not to be missed.

3. Paragliding. With high hills and great winds throughout the year, Rio has emerged as one of the ideal places for paragliding and hang gliding. If you are an adventurous traveler, this is an experience not to be missed.

4. A helicopter tour. Ok, so it might be a bit on the expensive side, but, with its spectacular landscapes and bustling urbanity, a bird’s eye view of the city Rio is a memorable sight.

Stay safe in Rio:

While Rio as dangerous as some make out, the  backpacker  nonetheless needs to keep their wits about them in order to ensure they do not fall prey to criminals who consider tourists to be soft targets for mugging or robbing.

The most important tip here is probably to avoid downtown Rio after dark, especially if you are alone or accompanied by just one or two friends. As ever when  traveling , carrying as little cash as possible and not wearing expensive jewelry are advisable while exploring Rio.

While  traveling  around Rio, sticking to the subway when possible is a good maxim, as it proves significantly safer than the buses, where pickpockets tend to ply their dubious trade.

Where to stay in Rio?

Thankfully, there are many good hostels in Rio de Janeiro that the  backpacker  can choose from, and they all provide a safe haven should you feel the outside get a little too ‘edgy’ for your liking.

The Brazil Hostel, for example, located in Santa Teresa, is a safe place to stay that offers great facilities. Also in Santa Teresa is the Terra Brasilis Hostel, which is a top Rio de Janeiro hostel that you can stay in. As these hostels are close to Rio’s nightclub district, they prove popular with travelers who want to go out at night and retain the safety net of ‘home’ being close by.

Backpacking Information on Indonesia


Population: 225.3 million (UN, 2005)

Capital: Jakarta Area: 1.9 million sq km (742,308 sq miles)

Major languages: Indonesian, 300 regional languages

Major religion: Islam

Life expectancy: 65 years (men), 69 years (women) (UN)

Monetary unit: 1 rupiah (Rp)

The Republic of Indonesia is then again one of the MUST-SEE places in Southeast Asia a small hop from the Indochina Peninsula. Although it has previously lost some of its charisma to the world with the 2002 killings of 164 international tourists and 38 locals in Kuta, Bali, tagging along tectonic hyperactivity scares that brought about almost instantaneously the tragedy of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami that took 167,737 lives in North Sumatra, was yet another big blow to Indonesia’s tourism industry, the island paradise is simply tantalizing as ever. With raison d’être, the Java Man, one of the world’s earliest species of man, has found his home here around 500 millennia to 2 million years ago. And rather surely with its 17,508 islands that can result to pleasure overdrive, travellers can’t resist the ethereal music, spectacular dance, delightful storytelling and exquisite craftsmanship – great manifestations of a rich and spiritual life. Indonesia just knows how to tingle the pleasure centres of each of its travellers be it by flavour, spectacle, aroma, or sensation, in addition to the size of this place, possibly the largest paradise that causes more often than not a rethinking of one’s departure. Perhaps another night?


Fact remains, travel to Indonesia is dynamic exploration chasing after islands and wildlife, which is quite a lot. Indonesia is, after all 1,904,569 km2-territory with 17,508 islands with great biodiversity, 6,000 of which are inhabited, making it the largest and most populous country in the Southeast Asia. Indonesia (5 00 S, 120 00 E) is made up of forest-clad mountains and lowland plains and coasts that have served as the home to nomadic and more advanced civilizations of the archipelago. Mountains can be found inland, toward the island centres of bigger islands, the highest of which is the Puncak Jaya at an altitude of 5,030 metres above the sea level, the Indian Ocean in this part.


The climate just can’t get better for a Southeast Asian travel, tropical climate as usual as Indonesia straddles the equator. The traveller can’t ask for more sun or heat with average temperatures varying very subtly throughout the year from 26-30 °C. But the highlands and mountainous regions like Kalimantan, Sulawesi, W. Java, and W. Sumatra and Papua offer a different kind of cool, regardless the two seasons of wet and dry.


Indonesia is the 4th most heavily populated country in the world succeeding the United States with 240,271,522 people, or officially, Indonesians. Its high population and rapid modernization entail environmental concerns of excessive waste and poor management of it, large-scale illegal deforestation and massive air and water pollution with related forest fires that threaten neighbouring countries Brunei and Malaysia. The Javanese are the most numerous ethnic group with almost 45% of the population, and the island of Java, the most populous island in the world with 130 million of inhabitants. After which comes the Sudanese with 15% of Indonesians and some 300 groups such as the Madurese who are at odds with the Dayak, the Minangkabau, Bajar, Banten, Betawi, and the Bugis.


The republic nation prides on being the country with the largest Muslim population on the planet with almost 90% of a Muslim demographic. Naturally, Islam is the way of life here, that main ideology to every action, every principle from preparation of meat and food to governance and law. Christianity is a budding faith in many small villages where missionary work is chiefly directed to especially in North Sumatra with 9% of the population in practice and still adding. Hindu and other pagan or animist beliefs incompletely identified are also in practice.


BAHASA INDONESIA, a modified Malay language, is the official language of the state. ENGLISH is widely spoken in major cities and is the language used for foreign matters and the hospitality industry, DUTCH, the colonial language spoken as more of a creole by a minor senile generation, and a few local dialects have dotted the linguistic landscape.


The rich and hearty Indonesian culture is the perfect accent to the allure of sights of this island paradise. Nothing quite epitomizes Indonesian allure as the rich biodiversity at the coral reef kingdoms to which the traveller can scuba dive and witness colours and creatures so diverse, so flamboyant, possibly none that anyone has seen anywhere on earth, until now. We’re talking possibly hundreds of shades of blue, red, green, yellow, and so on. Sulawesi is a place to site rare animals found nowhere else in the world that have evolved to survive in the island of heat and volcanic activity. Crater and volcanic lakes of Sumatra, alabaster beaches of Maluku, more volcanoes of Java, resorts of Bali, surfing sites and fine woven village textiles of Lombok, rainforests in Sabah and Sarawak, Borneo, West Papua, and thousands more places offer pristine nature experiences that is are constantly threatened, it is heart-breaking. In the Orangutan Sanctuary at the Indian Fire Islands-volcanic hotspot, the traveller will also feel a certain over-joy that suddenly shifts to melancholy realizing that these beings are in danger as well.

The irresistible and accessible charm of the people and the places create a truly phenomenal experience. This is home away from home being a place that is totally different but so familiar. From big island hopping trips from Sumatra to Kalimantan or Papua, or cheap thrills of watching Katchak in southern Bali, the common attraction and the genuine beauty is from the people scarcely touched by modern living, thriving in harmony with nature. But life is no beach, at least for the locals with 17.8% living below the poverty line with so much of a health care system as herbal medicines, and as they get a daily dose of the salty-smelling cool sea water, the Indonesians in small villages can never be calm about their own dear lives.


Nonetheless, none can take the festive element of the culinary epiphanies to be had here. It does not matter the place, rest assured a guest will have a wide and colourful spread of dishes that are out-of-this-world in colours and flavours. The nine essential gastronomic elements of Indonesian cuisine are rice, fuel, cooking oil, flour, corn, salt, sugar, eggs and meat. A country of many faces, so is Indonesian cuisine combining Indian, Middle Eastern, European, Chinese, and Malay influences with their use of spices and methods of cooking and food presentation, but not without sharing some of their own like nutmeg, clove, and galangal, spices native to Indonesia.

Most popular to the world are dishes such as satay, beef rendang, sambai, lumpia, pangsit, and many others. Authentic Indonesian cuisine is not a solid concept per se. Rather it pertains to the cuisine in Indonesia which renders localized versions of others. Rice is a staple not restrictive to main meals as it is also used in desserts using a variant called “sticky rice” cooked in coconut milk or buras. In some dishes, food is so hot and spicy, it can kill microbes.

Indonesian food also offers some Eastern exotica of spicy brains, lungs, and gizzards, but besides its high cholesterol content, there is no reason to not eat it. Islamic food prohibitions are practiced but with some leniency. The rationale is that alcohol has been in existence even before Islam and is part of traditional and cultural practices. There’s a big and beautiful world out there, but, a world of its own, Indonesia is a tough contender.

How to Backpack and Travel Safely in South America

Becoming a victim of crime is a possibility no matter where you  travel  nowadays – even when you stay at home! However, being aware of some of the popular scams and tricks that criminals and opportunists use to victimize tourists can help avoid problems that could ruin a good trip.

South America is a popular destination for world travellers and especially for  backpackers , adventure enthusiasts and those taking a gap year. The country certainly has plenty to offer and a wonderful variety of landscapes from tropical beaches to the spectacular Andes Mountains, Amazon rainforest, Iguazu Falls, active volcanoes, and fascinating wildlife of the Galapagos Islands. Many travellers choose to take in the exciting and colourful fiestas and carnivals, or visit the sites of ancient civilizations. (Tip: To avoid disappointment, tickets to visit the Inca Trail and ruins at Machu Picchu should be purchased in advance).

The best  travel  advice is to do lots of research and set off armed with as much knowledge as possible. Take a quality guide book and Spanish and Portuguese phrase books. Chances are that nothing bad will happen but, unfortunately, travellers are vulnerable and criminals know it. They will take any opportunity to separate you from your money and possessions! The most common crimes anywhere in the world involve theft and pickpockets and theft of passports is a huge problem worldwide. Care should be taken in places where it is easy to be distracted and forget to watch your belongings, such as airports, internet cafes, on public transport or while renting a car. Avoid using public transport at night or walking alone at night in isolated areas.

Thieves have been known to target tourists by pretending to be police officers, tour operators, taxi drivers, or other officials (for example, a real police officer will never ask to see your wallet!) Taxis should be booked in advance with a reputable company, when possible. So called ‘express kidnappings’ are a problem in some areas where victims have been held captive and their bank accounts emptied before they are released. Female travellers should be especially cautious, especially when walking alone at night, on public transport, and in isolated areas, as rapes have been reported. Be on guard also for spiking of drinks – a problem which has become more prevalent. Avoid accepting drinks from strangers, leaving drinks unattended, and make sure that they are poured in plain view.

Be aware that many shops, bars, restaurants, and hotels may not accept credit cards in South American countries. Watch for counterfeit money and bogus ATM machines. In Peru, in particular, some ATM machines do not release credit and debit cards automatically unless a button is pushed – and instructions are not always written in English! It goes without saying that travellers should avoid all contact with illegal drugs or drug trafficking as the penalties are severe, involving imprisonment for long periods in extremely unpleasant conditions.

All travellers, especially those with pre-existing medical conditions, should have a thorough check-up and necessary vaccinations before leaving home. Diseases like yellow fever, dengue fever, cholera, and malaria are problematic in many areas. Evidence of valid inoculations may be required to  travel  between some countries in South America.

The above tips are just a sample of the knowledge travellers should be armed with before setting off. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office ‘Know before You Go’ campaign is an excellent resource for travellers. Their ‘ Travel  Advice by Country’ section contains current  travel  updates and advisories and the Travellers Checklist is another useful tool. Young travellers should pay attention to their Gap Year information. Avoid attracting the attention of police, keep the locals happy, and impress your  travel  companions with your awareness of local customs, laws and expected etiquette for each country.

Adventure travellers and adrenalin junkies will find plenty of outdoor activities and thrills. Activities like kayaking, white water rafting, surfing, hiking, mountain biking and mountaineering are popular. Care should be taken to ensure that the correct  travel  insurance policy is purchased which will provide cover for any potentially hazardous sports activities. Chile and Argentina are popular destinations for downhill skiing during the UK summer months and, again; don’t forget that additional insurance coverage may be needed.

Many areas in South America are remote with limited access to good emergency medical facilities. If a medical emergency should arise, medical care or evacuation and repatriation may be necessary. Without comprehensive  travel  insurance the costs could be astronomical and mean the end of any further world  travel  plans for a very long time!

Gold Coast Backpackers

A Gold Coast  Backpackers  Hostel presents the opportunity for one seeking adventure to learn about a new country and its inhabitants. This city, located in Australia, has many such accommodations available for this type of traveller.  Backpackers  have learned that staying in a hostel has many advantages. Not only is it an inexpensive mode of housing but it presents many opportunities to  travel  the world and learn about other people.

Gold Coast is the name of a city in Australia, which is located on the southeast corner of Queensland and has 35 miles of coastline. It has a subtropical climate and has a rain forest nearby which many enjoy. It has unusual plant and animal life some of which are not seen elsewhere in the world. Nerang River is the most prominent fresh water waterway in the region, having many walking and bicycle paths for one to enjoy.

Gold Coast has a number of hostels in the area for the convenience of the  backpacker . Due to the popularity of the region, some have a limit on the number of nights available. It is always a wise decision to make this determination when getting a reservation and, if longer time is desired, two or three reservations might be required with other hostels might be required.

The majority of the hostels offer dorm sleeping arrangements with bunks or beds. They have shared quarters, which include kitchens, bathrooms and social areas. Many have Internet access, cable television, swimming pool, postal service and many more amenities. A careful check of an Internet site or brochures is advised before making reservations. Clean bedding is furnished and there is always staff on hand to assist with any problem or give necessary directions.

Gold Coast’s beach is a surfer’s delight. Known throughout the world it is used as part of the ASP World Tour of Surfing. Many well known surfers use this beach whenever possible. There is a surf lifesaving program in effect which tends to anyone needing assistance.

Sports minded people really find their niche in the city with its well-known rugby, basketball and ice hockey competition. Sports fans look forward to these games and they constantly draw a large audience. Because of their popularity, anyone wishing to attend should purchase their tickets well in advance.

During the year there are many events taking place. Among these are car racing in October and the Gold Coast Marathon in July. The  backpacker  might be interested in taking part in the marathon and would be welcomed to join in. Theme parks, theatres, art galleries and other attractions are also available. To really get to know the people and their culture hiking out to the surrounding countryside will give an insight into the residents’ lives, their way of living and other aspects of their lives.

Discovering the people and the makeup of another country is in the grasp of the  travelling   backpacker . It is a way that wishes can be fulfilled without the expansion of a lot of money. Staying at a Gold Coast  Backpackers  or Hostel opens these doors and provides a once in a lifetime opportunity for adventure and fun.

Backpacking Adventure Travel

If you are looking to take an adventure  travel  lasting a day or two, or over a long holiday weekend, a backpacking adventure  travel  may be a perfect solution. This type of adventure  travel  is usually easier to plan and will give you a nice break away from your everyday routine. Before you begin, you first have to decide how long you plan on being away.

If you plan on being gone for one single day, a daypack would satiate, but if you plan on going on a multi-day adventure  travel , you would need to go for backpacking. With both these types, you would have to keep in mind a few more things. For example, the backpack for your backpacking adventure  travel  should come with sturdy shoulder straps. In addition to that, your backpack should also have enough padding and curves. This helps to keep your collarbone safe otherwise it would chaff it.

Another thing that must be understood with backpacking is having good zips. The zips should be strong and durable. And to make things easier for you, always try to opt for zips of the larger size. These types are always more reliable. Your backpack should also come with a good waist strap. And why is that essential for you? For the simple reason that it takes much of the weight off your shoulders and as such your shoulder would not get tired easily.

And the last thing that should be kept in mind before choosing your backpacking adventure  travel  is that the material of the backpack must be of the highest quality. You should not compromise on quality just because of cost. The consequences could be very problematic. Just imagine what could happen if the backpack gave out in the middle of your adventure  travel .

So, you have got yourself a decent backpack for your backpacking adventure  travel . Now the next thing would surely be getting an idea of the things that you ought to be keeping in your backpack. The very first thing that you should always keep in mind is that never in any case forget to take the maximum possible amount of water with you. You should also not forget to maintain sufficient amount of iodine tablets with you to treat the water you get while on your adventure. It is not possible to carry all the water that you would need during your  travel  and you are bound to use water from outside, and as such, iodine tablets are a must.

You will also need to transport food with you. If you pack each of your meals separately, you can save a great deal of space and you would be taking just enough food that you will need. In addition, you will also need to take some clothes. If you are planning a multi-day backpacking adventure  travel , you have to take enough clothes with you to regular changes. You should also bring a good pair of shoes and do not forget a sleeping back and/or a tent.

Keep in mind that your preparation will greatly depend on the location you choose for your adventure  travel , the type of terrain and the weather conditions for that area. Be sure to perform as much research as possible before you leave for your backpacking adventure  travel  to ensure you will an exciting and memorable experience.

Lightweight Backpacking Travel

Vacations are a central part of modern life. People take vacations to see, enjoy and learn about different countries and people. The more adventurous set off on trips of a lifetime to explore and enjoy new places. An important part of their  travel  plan is the weight they have to carry. Lightweight backpacking  travel  has become the ultimate way to ensure a comfortable journey.

In the past backpacks tended to be heavy and loaded with items that are unnecessary. With the advance of technology lightweight backpacks has revolutionised  travel  making possible for people to  travel  with ease and enjoy the whole experience far more.

There are huge arrays of different gadgets and accessories available that will fit in the smaller backpack and provide the same benefits as larger items. Lighter packs will enable you to explore more and be able to keep up with the rest of the group. Heavy backpacks are liable to cause blisters, sore feet, back ache and knee injuries. You will escape all these with lightweight backpacking.

Lightweight backpacking is ideal when you are visiting several different locations as you can easily pack your bag and be on the move on to the next place. Remote locations can be explored and exciting places enjoyed as the backpack can be placed down and back on within minutes. You will feel far steadier on your feet and your balance will be better. You can use light but sturdy footwear instead of heavy and bulky hiking boots.

A great advantage of  travelling  with a lightweight backpack on the plane is that you will save time not having to check your baggage in ahead of the flight or waiting to pick it up after your flight.  Travel  baggage for Europe should be carry-on sizes. This ensures that you do not carry too much. Most International airlines allow 22″ tall 14″ wide and 9″ deep. This size of bag is small enough to be lightweight while holding the right amount of luggage – around 45 litres.

Business travellers ‘ needs are different from the recreational ones. Business travellers may need to pack for 1-3 days and may not need larger bags. Recreational travellers may need to pack for 7-10 days.

The backpack should have ample pockets and zippers so that items may be extracted without unpacking and repacking several things to get at what you want. This is also true when it comes to packs that load from the top. Zippers that allow you to see most of what is inside is perfect for the traveller who will most likely be opening and closing their pack every night.

Another space saver is carrying an iPhone or other smart phone because of the many applications they have. The phone is lighter than a tablet or laptop. It can replace maps, guide books and other cumbersome items and also provide you with instant communications with friends and family.

Use compression bags for a super-tight package of your clothes. Your clothing fabrics should be lightweight and quick drying. Place this compressed bag on the bottom of your pack. Fill the remaining bottom space with a jacket or sweater for a tighter fit base.

Pack a laptop with a sleeve for a flat surface against your back. Your camera and lens with the cases can go in a central and safe position. Fill up any remaining spaces with your remaining odds and ends. A first aid kit, assorted cable and battery bags, and a toiletry kit with medicines. Use the top pocket for items you want to access during the day; maps, a cell phone, snack food. A water bottle that clips on can be accessed whenever you are thirsty.

The concept of lightweight backpacking  travel  is to have fun and enjoy the places that you visit. You will feel far safer, more comfortable and have a greater amount of freedom.

It is easy to shop online and a great way to purchase your next piece of carry-on luggage. You will find competitive pricing as well as a great selection of the most modern bags in the market.

Best Backpack For Travel

The first thing to consider when choosing a backpack is the size. You may be tempted to buy a large backpack: perhaps 50-80 litres. This is almost certainly not what you want. You want to think about packing as light as possible, definitely under 15kg in your pack. The best backpack for  travelling  is probably 30-40 litres, which allows for everything you need and stops you from packing extraneous things which you’ll seldom use and will hurt your back.

The best backpack for  travel  will also be light. Surprisingly, many backpack harnesses and materials are unnecessarily heavy. You need to consider the durability of the material against the type of use you’re likely to put it through. Some ultra-light materials can be very durable but will rip if caught in an airport conveyor belt. If you’re flying often consider tougher material.

The best backpack for  travel  must be able to be locked. If you have a hiking-style top-loading bag, it’s unlikely to be easily locked. You may need another “overbag” to cover and lock it for flights, left luggage, and when you leave it behind in your hostel or hotel room.

The size and shape of your backpack is possibly the most important factor, however. There’s no amount of reading that can help you with this: you need to try the bag on, with some weight in it, and enlist the help of a friend or shop staff to fit it correctly. You might find the harness doesn’t sit right on your hips or around your breasts. You might find the length is too long or too short – creating pressure in the wrong places.

At the end of the day, the best backpack for  travelling  around the world is a personal decision, but you can learn a lot by reading  travel  blogs and asking the people who have been  travelling  for a long time. There’s a lot of people willing to help with your  travel  plans.

The Backpacking Tourism Boom in Singapore

“Don’t be a tourist. Plan less. Go slowly. I  travelled  in the most inefficient way possible and it took me exactly where I wanted to go.”

These were the exact words of Andrew Evan who undertook an overland adventure from Washington D.C. to Antarctic. As a seasoned National Geographic  travel  writer, Andrew has authored various guidebooks on several cities and  travelling . This mantra is one that  backpackers  today swear by.

Backpacking in its traditional form, is a low-cost and independent style of  travel . The term itself is self-explanatory –  travelling  with a backpack.  Backpackers  often  travel  without packaged tours and rely on  travel  information from guidebooks and websites. More people today are  travelling , and backpacking as a style of  travel  will not be unfamiliar to most.

In “The Backpacking Phenomenon”, Philip Pearce suggests that backpacking is a state of mind. It is an approach to  travelling , rather than a categorisation based on age or dollars spent.

 Backpackers  are distinguished with the following traits:

A preference for budget accommodation.

A social emphasis on meeting locals and other travellers.

An independently organised and flexible  travel  schedule.

Longer rather than brief holidays.

The popularity of backpacking has risen in recent years. It is most evident in the increase in number of  backpacker  accommodation in Singapore. There are 29 registered  backpackers ‘ hostels in Singapore according to Hotels Licensing Board. Majority of them are located in the various ethnic compounds such as Chinatown, Kampong Glam, and Little India.

A record high of close to 13.2 million international visitors arrived in Singapore in 2011. More tourists are visiting Singapore, either as a stopover en-route to another country or as a destination itself. The Economy tier of the Hotel Industry (S$109.00 and below) registered an Average Occupancy Rate of 85% for 2011. Budget accommodation and  backpackers ‘ hostels have become increasingly popular with tourists.

There are many indicators to the rising popularity of  backpackers ‘ hotels in Singapore, with the obvious one being affordability. Singapore is the most expensive Asian country for hotel rooms, with a night averaging S$239.00 in 2011. On the other hand, a night in a  backpackers ‘ hostel cost between S$20.00 to S$50.00 for a dormitory bed and between S$60.00 to S$100.00 for a private double room.

Footprints Hostel, located in Little India, offers a bed in the 10-bed dormitory for S$22.00 a night. Keeping prices affordable has been their competitive edge, as they remain as one of the largest and more popular  backpackers ‘ hostels.

Travellers are drawn to  backpackers ‘ hostels for the affordable accommodation.

“We keep our room rates competitive. We also value-add to their stay by offering discounted attraction tickets and deals at some restaurants and cafes near us,” says Christina Phang. As the General Manager of Footprints Hostel, Christina regularly sources out deals and discounts for her guests.

Prices are however not the only determining factor with the emergence of new boutique hostels clearly catered for the  backpacker  with the budget. Luxury and comfort is the rule for these boutique hostels as they bring services and amenities normally found in hotels. Such enhanced features can include amenities like a spacious lobby lounge, individual reading lights, bedside screens, and iPhone docks.

Mervin Kwa, 28, Operations Manager at Bunc Hostel explains that the flashpacker is a modified term for the  backpacker  who has a slightly more disposable budget in terms of accommodation, and yet wants to experience the interactivity and atmosphere of a hostel.

“We (Bunc Hostel) offer top hotel quality standard bedding and amenities at  backpackers ‘ rates. The dormitory beds are designed as individual capsules to provide guests with more privacy as compared to a open-style dormitory,” Mervin explains. “We also organize events frequently to encourage mingling among our guests”

Bunc Hostel’s custom-designed capsule bed promises comfort and privacy.

Most  backpackers ‘ hostels are also located strategically close to the city centre or are within reach of a few MRT stations. This brings forth convenience through affordability and ease of  travel  within Singapore. Being located in the various ethic compounds allows  backpackers  to experience the local flavour with the unique ethnic cultures.

For example, Little India, which is a strong Indian cultural enclave, is undisputedly the unofficial  backpacker  district in Singapore. It has the highest concentration of  backpackers ‘ hostels and it is not difficult to see why  backpackers  are drawn to Little India.

There is a steady growing relationship between the local businesses catered for the tourists and the upsurge of the tourism industry. The cafes, bars, convenience stores, Internet shops, and  travel  agencies have been given a boost by the influx of  backpackers  coming to the area. These businesses are also outlet providers of entertainment, information and recreation for them.

Singaporeans are also not unfamiliar with the backpacking fervour. “For me, it (backpacking) means to  travel  cheaply and independently in a foreign country,” says Desmond Lui, a freelance photojournalist. Desmond is a seasoned traveller whose backpack destinations have included the exotic likes of Cambodia, India and Mongolia.

Backpacking equates to an extended and more insightful learning holiday for some. “I enjoy the greater freedom that comes with independent backpacking as compared to  travelling  with conventional tour packages,” Desmond adds on. “I also find that by  travelling  for longer periods of time, spending more time in one location and visiting more places, I can get a better understanding and feel for the country or region I visit.”

Desmond has  travelled  particularly extensively in India and China, spending three months and seven months respectively. An 18-hour jeep ride in India that took him across mountainous passes along some of the highest motor roads in the world remains as one of his fondest backpacking memories.

It appears backpacking will remain as an upward trend with more  backpackers   travelling  to Singapore and more Singaporeans backpacking overseas. So what are you waiting for? Buy a ticket, fetch your backpack and go globetrotting today.