Backpacking Trips Around the World Made Easy

by Kelsey Haynes

Backpacking has become an increasingly popular journey among young travelers – and for good reason! It allows the freedom to be mobile and visit a handful of countries in a short amount of time, it encourages light packing (adios awkward, clunky bags on wheels!), and it’s sure to land adventurers in some unbelievable places – you know, the kinds of places they might not have seen otherwise.

Map of a route from London to Amsterdam
Consume views of the Eiffel tower, grab gelato in Venice, and bike around all of Amsterdam in one perfect trip!

And, sort of like the cherry on top, backpacking around the world is one of the most inexpensive ways to travel abroad. Between low-cost hostel stays and train tickets, backpackers save money while having some of the most enriching experiences of their lives. But with so many fabulous backpacking destinations in the world to choose from, we did your homework for you – here are the best destinations and routes for backpacking around the world:

Backpacking Europe Routes

Europe may be the smallest continent, but every single country is decorated with ancient cities, magnificent structures, and sites to behold, and railway systems dedicated to making sure the people of the world can easily move from one wonder to the next. It’s no surprise it makes the cut for top backpacking trips (and there are tons of backpacking Europe routes to choose between!). From the wineries in France to the fairytale villages in Belgium to the canals in Venice and the bathhouses in Budapest, Europe is a beautiful and accessible place for backpackers looking to make the most of their adventuring in a limited amount of time – just be sure you know how to pack for such a multi-adventure trip!

Here are some of the best routes for backpacking around Europe:

  • London to Amsterdam
    • Duration: 14 days
    • The Lineup: London, Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice, Munich, Heidelberg/Rhine Valley, Amsterdam
    • Modes of Transportation: Train
    • Backpacking Route Highlights: Eiffel Tower, Seine River, the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Vatican City, Sistine Chapel, Boboli Gardens, the Duomo, Venice’s Grand Canal, Red Light District
    Map of a route from Rome to London
    Hike all five villages in Cinque Terre before trekking up to the historical memorials in Germany!
  • Rome to London
    • Duration: 23 days
    • The Lineup: Rome, Viareggio (Tuscany), Venice, Vienna, Budapest, Krakow, Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam, Bruges, London
    • Modes of Transportation: Train, public bus, metro
    • Backpacking Route Highlights: Leaning Tower of Pisa, Cinque Terre, Piazzale Michelangelo, Basilica di San Marco, Doge’s Palace, Budapest Thermal Baths, Auschwitz, Prague Castle, Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate, Anne Frank’s House, Van Gogh Museum, Red Light District
  • London to Istanbul
    • Duration: 25 days
    • The Lineup: London, Paris, Lausanne, Zermatt, Chur, Munich, Salzburg, Vienna, Budapest, Sighisoara, Brasov, Bucharest, Veliko Tarnovo, Sofia, Plovdiv, Istanbul
    • Modes of Transportation: Train
    • Backpacking Route Highlights: Eiffel Tower, Luxembourg Gardens, Lake Geneva, Swiss Alps, Neuschwanstein Castle, Dachau concentration camp, Buda Castle, thermal baths in Budapest, The Black Church, the Palace of Parliament, Church of the Nativity, Alexander Nevski church, the Grand Bazaar, Ayasofya

Find backpacking trips for college students in Europe now!

Map of a route from London to Istanbul
Backpack your way from Western Europe to Eastern Europe, and experience two entirely different walks and ways of life

Central & South America

Ready to find the perfect Central America backpacking route? Or do you prefer to taste the adventure of the backpacking South America routes? Put your adventure into drive and zoom across the tropical paradise that is Latin America. These rainforests are not only lush in greenery but in the history of the ancient Aztec and Mayan civilizations as well. As far as “best backpacking destinations in the world” go, Latin America has strongly earned its rank – especially considering you’ll be walking back through history, exploring temples, ruins, and impressive ecological reserves (just to name a few of the wonderful adventures in store). Journey on down to a place of perfect weather, soft sand beaches, and adventurous jungles, and trek your way through the experience of a lifetime through one of these top backpacking trips in Latin America:

  • San José to Playa del Carmen
    • Duration: 33 days
    • The Lineup: San José, La Fortuna/Arenal, Monteverde, Ometepe, Granada, Poneloya, Suchitoto, Concepción de Ataco, Copán, Antigua, Panajachel/Lake Atitlán, RÍo Dulce/Flores, Tikal/San Ignacio, Caye Caulker, Playa del Carmen
    • Modes of Transportation: Local bus, boat, van, taxi, ferry
    • Backpacking Route Highlights: Planeterra-supported homestay experience, group salsa dancing lessons, guided tour of Tikal, orientation walks in Granada and Antigua, kayaking, ziplining, Arenal Volcano hike, Monteverde Reserve and rainforests, Ometepe Island, Lake Nicaragua, El Imposible National Park, Mayan ruins of Copán, Lake Atitlán, Chocón-Machacas Natural Reserve, the Belize Reef
  • Lima to Rio de Janeiro
    • Duration: 51 days
    • The Lineup: Lima, Paracas/Nazca, Arequipa/Colca Canyon, Cusco/Ollantaytambo/Inca Trail, Puno/Lake Titicaca, La Paz, Sucre/Potosi, Uyuni/Salt Flats, San Pedro de Atacama/Salta, Buenos Aires, Colonia/Montevideo, Iguassu Falls/Paraty/Ilha Grande, Rio de Janeiro
    • Modes of Transportation: Public bus, train, hiking, plane, 4×4 truck, ferry
    • Backpacking Route Highlights: Pachamanca ceremony, Colca Canyon excursion, Nazca Lines, El Misti Volcano, guided tour of Machu Picchu, 4-day Inca Trail hike, Lake Titicaca excursion, Uros Floating Islands, Uyuni Salt Flats excursion, Atacama Desert, Iguassu Falls, Estancia stay, Sugar Loaf Mountain, Christ the Redeemer

Find backpacking trips for college students in Central and South America.

Map of a route from San Jose to Playa del Carmen
Travel North through Latin American history as you journey through remains of ancient Mayan civilizations

Backpacking through Asia & the Pacific Islands

Another land rooted in history, Southeast Asia is home to an astounding number of war memorials and other remembrances. Specifically, Vietnam has many sites dedicated to and preserved for the Vietnam War, an event that rings deep for many. Away from Southeast Asia’s history, though, lie miles and miles of white sand beaches, secret coves, exquisite natural parks, and inviting villages.

Tackle your first trip backpacking through Asia; use one the itineraries below to make your way across Southeast Asia to Singapore (don’t forget to stop by Thailand’s best beaches!). If you’re still feeling adventurous after that, take a quick flight south to try your luck at backpacking the Pacific Islands. Fly to Nadi to soak up some Fijian sun before heading further south to Auckland, in the North island of New Zealand. Get your fill on hobbits as you trek your way through a stunning South Pacific adventure. New Zealand, famously known as the geographical host for most of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, has that and more to boast. Incredible views of rolling, green hillsides and breathtaking mountain ranges (and stunning, crystal-blue coastlines) make backpacking the Pacific Islands a must-see for travelers dying to see the greatest beauties of the world.

  • Bangkok to Singapore
    • Duration: Two to three months
    • The Lineup: Bangkok, Northern Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Southern Thailand (complete with extensive island hopping), Malaysia, Singapore
    • Modes of Transportation: Train, bus, hiking
    • Backpacking Route Highlights: Ayutthaya, Sukhothai Historical Park, Chiang Mai (massages and meditating!), Golden Triangle, Bokeo Nature Reserve, biking, kayaking, tubing in Vang Vieng, Tham Nong Pafa Cave, Hue (Vietnam War sites), Mui Ne sand dunes, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Ko Tarutao National Marine Park, Ipoh, Taman Negara National Park, and the bright-eyed city of Singapore!
    Map of a route from Auckland to Wellington
    Traverse most of Rotorua National Park on this weeklong adventure through New Zealand’s North Island

  • Fiji to New Zealand
    • Duration: Seven days
    • The Lineup: Nadi, Auckland, Raglan, Rotorua/Maori Village, Lake Taupo and surrounding national parks, Wellington
    • Modes of Transportation: Plane, private bus
    • Backpacking Route Highlights: Incredible ocean views, the Maritime Museum, conservation farm, sea kayaking, surf lessons, Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Tongariro Alpine Crossing: volcanic range and remote hot springs, Te Papa Museum

Find backpacking programs for college students in Asia and the Pacific Islands.

Get ‘er done!

GoAbroad’s adventure travel lovers will be mesmerized and fully exhausted by the end of any one of these backpacking trips (two signs of an amazing trip). These trails speak to so many different aspects of meaningful travel, including eco-adventure, historical knowledge, and community engagement on a global level. Backpackers who suit up and embark on one of these journeys will not only—literally—walk away with miles and miles of different countries under their belt, but they will also have gained a perspective that is only possible for those who engage in and have a desire to see their world.

Strap on your pack & begin backpacking around the world! Create a MyGoAbroad profile today.

This fantastic travel inspiration provided in part by StudentUniverse your student flight discount hub.