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The Advantages And Fun Of Backpacking

Updated on August 29, 2017
New Zealand  Hooker Valley Track
New Zealand Hooker Valley Track
Nepal hillside temple
Nepal hillside temple

After the experience of my first backpack travel trip in New Zealand with a group of well organised backpackers, I find that there are many advantages besides the flexibility of not having to wake up by early morning call and following the tour guides sightseeing schedule.

Previously when we went on a China tour package which was booked through the travel agencies, the sightseeing itinerary and time schedule were fixed throughout the tour. No doubt we had comfortable transport, accommodation and good food arranged readily for us, but the package lacked flexibility. As a tourist when arriving at a very scenic place, you would normally wish to spend more time at that particular site for activities like taking photographs of every scenic spot, trekking around the park or terrain of the hillside, watching the living culture of the people in street markets of remote village. But due to constraints of the prearranged time schedule, we simply had to follow the tour guides instruction and move on to the next place as arranged in his itinerary.

During one of our previous package tour to Beijing in China, we were very disappointed when we were only allocated 45 minutes for sightseeing at the Great Wall of China. We requested for more time but only managed to extend the duration by another 15 minutes. This was one of the famous wonders in the history of China as well and in the world and anyone would wish to have more time to walk as far as possible along the path of the Great Wall to experience the historical past.

Besides the limitations on sightseeing schedule, we also disliked being taken to business centres. We presumed that the tour guide would be given some sales incentives for bringing us to those business centres. At these centres, the tour guide would not limit the time for shopping, mainly for their personal benefits. There were those rich members among the packaged tour group, who would take up a lot time doing their shopping at these shops or factories.Sightseeing duration for the subsequent visit would then be shortened to our frustration. The shopping group would be fully engrossed with their bargaining and selection while the tour guide would then be rewarded with more sales incentives from their purchases. We were taken around to visit business outlets for Chinese tea, jade stone and antiques, pearl products and medical centres for some kind of health treatment. And many extra long hours had been spent at these business centres which indirectly reduced the duration of the sightseeing hours in the itinerary.

Backpack travelling is a ‘free and easy’ trip, very suitable for those who are relative fit and adventurous. Teamwork spirit is required as there may be a need to share out some of the cooking and washing chores at times when staying in the more remote areas away from the city. It will also involve sourcing and planning in advance for accommodation, vehicle rental, destination stops and visiting plans, expenses budgeting and other related information collection responsibilities before the trip.

Backpack travel may not necessarily be cheaper than packaged tour, but the advantage factors which we like most is the flexibility and ability to visit and venture into more remote regions which are usually not included in packaged tour. Of course accommodation and food arrangements will be less glamorous too. But it is an opportunity for deeper discoveries and more sightseeing adventures.

And Penang Island would be specially recommended as a selected tropical destination for backpack travels as the place is relatively small and convenient to travel around by public bus or rent-a-car transport facilities.


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