Top Backpacking Trips To Do This Summer

It's Not Too Late To Get A Roadtrip In
 It's Not Too Late To Get A Roadtrip In

We’ve passed the halfway point of summer break. Maybe you’ve spent the summer collecting cash at a summer job, interning and gaining professional experience, or taking classes to catch up on credits. If you’re looking back at your summer so far and wondering where it’s gone -- or looking ahead and feeling bored by your empty calendar, it’s time to start planning.

Dedicate a week -- or two or three if you’re lucky -- to a backpacking trip this summer. If funds are tight, stay Stateside and take to the National Park trails. If funds are slightly less tight, head to South America or Southeast Asia where you can get the most bang for your buck. And if funds aren’t an issue, it’s time for a Eurotrip. Here are five of the best backpacking trips you can still squeeze in this summer.


Head West and Tour Our National Parks


A couple of tanks of gas, a proper tent and camping gear, gallons of water and enough dehydrated meals should see you through a solid week of camping across the US in our country’s national parks. If you’re coming from the east coast, find your way to South Dakota and begin at the Badlands. The glacial-age sedimentary deposits look like Mars, and you can car-camp next to buffalo.

While you’re there, make your way to Mount Rushmore, before continuing to the trippy Devil’s Tower in Wyoming and onward to Yellowstone. You can spend days seeing all the sights of Yellowstone, from the eruptive geyser Old Faithful to the smelly, beautiful hot springs. Head south to the Grand Tetons to see the most frighteningly beautiful peaks you’ll see out here; or head north for Glacier and get ready for some epic hikes.

If timing allows -- keep heading west (or south), and make your way through to Utah or Colorado’s National Parks.

Banana Pancake Your Way Around Southeast Asia


The stereotypical Southeast Asia backpack trip can be done in two weeks -- but ideally you’d give it three months. The well-trodden tourist trail takes you through Vietnam (don’t forget to try your hand at riding a motorbike -- or simply crossing the street), Cambodia (sunrise at Angkor Wat is worth it if your hangover allows for it), and Thailand (Bangkok will blow your mind).

If you include Laos, take the slower forms of transport, like the two-day trip from Luang Prabang to northern Thailand, or a bicycle ride through its capital city Vientiane. If you can’t get enough, try Myanmar to Thailand’s west, or Malaysia to its south. Myanmar, having recently opened to tourists, will feel far less westernized. Malaysia is a melting pot of Buddhist, Hindu and Christian religions (as well as Malays, Indians, Chinese and other ethnicities).

End in Singapore where you’ll find no cleaner metropolis ever.


Go Big or Go to Europe


What three months in Southeast Asia will cost you is probably the equivalent of a week in Europe. But if you’ve got the funds, go for it. Hostels in Europe guarantee to provide some of the best experiences and forever friendships. But instead of taking the usual route by train through the region’s main cities, hitting up Paris and Barcelona and Rome, meander through each countries’ lesser known cities to find better accommodation bargains and a more local experience.

But definitely go Greek. Starting in Athens, make your way to Mykonos for the parties and then Santorini for the stunning views. On your way to scoping out the medieval wonders of Croatia, consider stopping over in Albania. In Sarajevo, Bosnia, prepare for a culture shock as you learn of the country’s war-torn past. Have a beer in Serbia -- it may be your cheapest here yet -- and then kick off your shoes in Budapest before flying home.


Watch Your Jaw Drop in South America


South America may have the world’s most stunning sights. For that reason, we’d almost suggest only backpacking the length of Patagonia -- if South America wasn’t massive. The diversity of the continent means you’ll see drastically different landscapes from one country to the next. And, it’s as affordable as Southeast Asia. Where to start?

You definitely don’t want to miss the peaks of Patagonia, so head to Chile or Argentina. Find an outfitter who can take you on sturdy long hikes and values sustainability. When you’re ready for a break, make your way to the beaches of Ecuador -- or if you’ve timed it ride, enjoy the month-long Carnival party in Rio, Brazil. No one leaves South America without a depth-of-field shot in the salt pans of Bolivia, so don’t forget to do that.

And when you’re done? Get a tattoo, start a travel blog, and bask in your cultured-ness.




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