Summer is here, and it’s time to lock down your plans. For many, it means taking a timeout for a long and relaxing vacation. However, if you’re more like us and in need of a great big adventure outdoors, backpacking may be for you. Whether you’re a beginner or clocked in hundreds of miles already, here’s why backpacking is the perfect way to spend your summer.
What is Backpacking?
For each person, backpacking means something different, but the basic definition is that you take everything you need for your trip in one bag. Trips are usually longer, such as a week or more, and require an extended period on your feet hiking, walking, climbing, etc.
Pro hikers use special, very expensive backpacks that are made to carry a lot of weight on your back. They may also have compartments for tents and sleeping bags, along with tools and food. Other, more casual backpackers, get away with basic packs that are more lightweight and made for short-term, mixed-use trips.
Where to Backpack
The best part of backpacking is that you can do it anywhere! You could even spend your summer backpacking the local state park, if you wanted. The destinations are unlimited, and even urban backpackers are welcome! If you’re looking for summer backpacking trips, here are top destinations in each region:
- Appalachian Trail
- New York City
- Adirondack Mountains
- Acadia National Park
- Sleeping Bear Dunes
- Dakota Prairie National Grassland
- Obannon Woods
- Chicago Lakeshore
- Bartram Trail
- De Soto National Forest
- Florida Trail
- Ozark National Park
Southwest and West Coast:
- Crested Butte
- John Muir Trail
- Pacific Crest Trail
- Grand Canyon
With all those destinations, you could be traveling for summer after summer trying to cross them off your to-do list. But if you’re looking for a real adventure, why not save up for a trip of the lifetime by crossing the border.
Many college students are at the perfect point in their lives where they can travel internationally by backpacking. It’s affordable, safe (in most places, but always check travel alerts first), and the perfect way to see some spectacular, off the beaten path destinations.
Take a month and go to Europe using backpacks, hostels, and trails (or trains) to hit up your favorite cities. Visit South America to see ancient ruins from tribes long extinct. Or get a real culture shock from seeing Asia outside the major cities and tourist hubs.
Why You Should Backpack While in College
Backpacking is a great distance exercise. It requires a lot of strength to carry around enough food, clothes, tents, and supplies to last you. And you’ll be pushed to your limits if you take it up a notch by selecting a trail that’s elevated or headed through forestland.
In addition to exercise, you’ll save cash on gas, plane tickets, luggage fees, and more. You’ll just need to get to and from your destination, and the rest can be extremely affordable. Use friends or sale sites to source your camping gear or backpack needs to save even more!
However, the main reason to backpack is to see the world from the outside. When you’re able to take everything you need on your back, you’re not tied down by suitcases or expensive flights. You can see and do what you have always dreamed of with just your two feet.