Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Tourism

pp 81-83

Date:

Backpacker

  • Chaim NoyAffiliated withDepartment of Communication, University of South Florida Email author 

Backpacking is a form of modern tourism characterized by a particular combination of travel practices and discourses. These include relatively lengthy travel duration, typically longer than annual holidays; use of inexpensive accommodation and transportation, with preference for youth hostels, YMCAs, and other local facilities, plus a corresponding preference for local ground transportation (instead of high-end commercial and airborne transportation); intense social interactions and networking through dominant romanticist discourse entailing authenticity, novelty, and spontaneity, often manifested in contrasting the categories of “backpackers” and “mass tourists”; and discourse of initiation and rite of passage, usually from adolescence to early adulthood. Backpackers have typically been characterized as young adults (around their 20s), originating from Western countries, favoring destinations in the developing countries.

Modern emergence

Adler’s (1985) sociological analysis traces the h ...

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