You don’t need tons of money to experience some of the world’s most beautiful and rewarding travel destinations. If you’re willing to forego a little bit of luxury, backpacking can be an excellent way to see our gorgeous and mysterious planet. Not only will backpacking keep you mobile, you’ll have the opportunity to meet like-minded travelers from all walks of life and all corners of the globe. You might miss out on the Marriott, but you won’t miss out on the adventure of a lifetime. If you’re thinking about taking to the open road with nothing but a backpack strapped to your shoulders, then here are destinations you need to consider first.
1. The Complete Backpacking Experience Is Waiting in Peru
In the mood to wander through an ancient rainforest? How about bone up on your knowledge of ancient civilizations? Peru has you covered in both respects. Then, when you’re done, you can head to one of their world-class beaches to help relax your sore muscles.
2. Explore the Unknown in Thailand
For as little as $30 a day, the enterprising backpacker can have an amazing time in Thailand, where even the street cuisine is something you’ll never forget. In between meals, Buddhist temples and exotic architecture are yours to explore on the cheap.
3. Engage Your Inner Philanthropist in Nicaragua
Those people who are backpacking on a budget should consider Nicaragua. The verdant country is not only home to some of the most beautiful mountains and forests in the world, it’s also a great place for volunteers to help out the local communities.
4. See the Western Coast of Europe in Portugal
Want to get some real European hiking under your belt without wearing yourself down day-in and day-out? Portugal has a stunningly beautiful coastline that’s perfect for beginner backpackers looking to slide down the coast hanging out at hostels, and trying some of the county’s world-famous wines.
5. Get Ready to Backpack Like a King in Bali
Somehow, Bali has found the perfect mixture of luxury and ruggedness. For backpackers, this means that you can spend just a little money every day, while still enjoying some top-notch Balinese cuisine, and the country’s incredible golden beaches.
6. Nepal Is the Perfect Place to Drum Up a Little Serenity
You’ll need to bring a thick sweater along for the ride, but Nepal is one of the most inviting backpacking destinations in the world. Whether you’re in the mood for some stunning scenery or a little spiritual inspiration, sites range from the titanic beauty of Everest to the birthplace of the Buddha.
7. Backpackers Who Love the Ocean Won’t Want to Leave Honduras
If you can’t afford a few days in Aruba, the coast of Honduras is just as good, only the prices won’t turn you off the fun. If you’re a scuba diver, Honduras is home to crystal clear waters and some incredibly diverse marine wildlife like stingray.
8. Vietnam Is an Ideal Backpacking Beach Vacation
The best place to see the gorgeous country of Vietnam is from the edge of the water. The small snatches of land that comprise the country’s gorgeous coastline, are also dotted with some truly unique limestone pillars that jut out from the water in a show of towering majesty.
9. Cultures Collide with Beautiful Results in Turkey
Throughout history, Turkey has served as a critical passage between Europe and Asia, a spot on the planet that’s meant its occupation by several wildly different cultures over the millennia. All of these influences remain in the country’s biggest city, Istanbul. Outside the city, the sprawling countryside will keep you enthralled for hours.
10. Discover a New World on Planet Earth in Malaysia
A hiking journey through Malaysia is like walking through a Tolkien novel that’s got an Asian setting. As you travel from one side of the country to the other, you can encounter elephants, caves, rope bridges, fields of giant mushrooms, and more. Travel on foot, by boat, or — from time to time — on the backs of elephants. The choice is yours.
11. India Is a Perfect Spot for First Time Backpackers
Few countries on the planet are better equipped to handle a backpacking expedition than India, which has hostels near most of its major tourist sites and in most major cities. The geography of the country accommodates everything from mountain climbing to desert exploration, so you’ll never be short on activities.
12. Leave the Noobs in the Dirt in Patagonia
If you’re a veteran backpacker and you’re in decent shape, then Patagonia is the kind of place you won’t want to miss. Located in Chile and Argentina, the landscape offers stunning views that can’t be found anywhere else on the planet.
13. Get to Know the Locals in Costa Rica
Before you head out to backpack through Costa Rica, you’re going to want to at least buy a phrase book (but preferably commit a few key words to memory), because the residents of the little South American country are not only charming, they’re incredibly welcoming and charitable. Plus, there’s rainforest wildlife literally all over the place, so what more could the extroverted backpacker want?
14. Get on the Bus and See Macedonia
Not a tropical rainforest type? No worries, because an enterprising backpacker can have a great time in Eastern Europe in countries like Macedonia, which is both inexpensive and breathtakingly beautiful. You’ll literally think you’re walking through a storybook.
15. Zimbabwe Is a Safe Way to See the Splendor of Africa
For a novice backpacker hoping to see some of the awesome stuff on offer in Africa — the culture, cuisine, and amazing diversity of wildlife — then Zimbabwe is incredibly inviting. Not only do most of the residents speak English, but they love them some tourists, and the country’s economy is even based on the US dollar.
16. Stay on the Cutting Edge of the Backpacking Scene in the Philippines
If you’ve been there and done that with a lot of backpacking locations, you might consider making the Philippines your next stop. In the last several years, the country has become much more hospitable to travelers on a budget, and the abundance of small islands means you’ve got plenty of choices and not a lot of competition.