Backpacker tourist experiences: Temporal, spatial and cultural perspectives

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


Backpacker tourism has a long history associated with hitchhiking in North America, but it became especially notorious during the hippie movement of the 1960s. During that time, young, carefree backpackers began travelling in large numbers to well-established tourist destinations. Through this process, certain routes and backpacker enclaves developed in Europe and Asia, and later in other parts of the world. Today, backpacker tourism is one of the most pervasive forms of independent travel and touches nearly every corner of the globe. This chapter describes the backpacker tourism phenomenon and its motivations in broad terms and examines the backpacker experience from the perspectives of time (temporalities), geography (spatialities) and cultural norms (culturalities). This conceptual framework is used to interpret the experiences of backpackers in the contexts of gap year travel, the Chinese concept of qiongyou, European Interrailing, backpacker enclaves and tourism trails/routes. Thresholds of adulthood and the frequent sense of timelessness are examples of strong manifestations of temporalities. The mobilities and moorings associated with transit spaces and backpacker enclaves illustrate the socialization processes, in-betweenness and connections to the comforts of home that many young travellers crave. Finally, the interactions with other backpackers and local inhabitants, as well as changing markets for traditional backpacker tourism illustrate some of the culturalities frequently manifested in this global travel phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of the Tourist Experience
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781000462241
ISBN (Print)9781032114255
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • General Business, Management and Accounting


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