The nature of backpacking as an independent segment of the tourism market means that there is little official data available. The research that has been done has focused on the school leaver gap--year market and on youth travel, including educational tourism, which are the more structured parts of the segment.
Definition of Backpacker Tourism
Backpacking is a form of low--cost, independent international travel. It includes the use of a backpack or other luggage that is easily carried for long distances or long periods of time; the use of public transport; inexpensive lodging such as youth hostels; a longer duration to the trip when compared with conventional vacations; and an interest in meeting the locals as well as seeing the sights. It is typically associated with young adults, who generally have fewer obligations and thus more time to travel. They also have less money to spend on hotels or private vehicles. It may include wilderness adventures or be limited to travel within settled areas.
Closely associated with ‘backpacker tourism’ is ‘gap--year travel’ where school leavers, university students, graduates and post--graduates or people taking a break from their career stay in a country for extended periods, often working on voluntary environmental and community projects.
Of importance in backpacking is a sense of authenticity. Backpacking is perceived as being more than a holiday, but a means of education. Backpackers want to experience the "real" destination rather than the packaged version often associated with mass tourism.
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