"I am planning to go backpacking. It will give me a chance to experience the wider world" said Kang Bo-ra, a sophomore of the Dept. of Science in Taxation, after having been asked what she would do during the summer vacation. Backpacking is popular with university students as a vacation plan these days. When NEWS@UOS asked UOS students the question, "What do you want to do during this summer vacation?" backpacking was the most popular reply with 32.8%. Other replies such as learning other languages (31.3%), having a part-time job (20.2%), doing volunteer work (4.4%) and others (11.3%) came after. Others mainly consisted of looking for a job or getting a certificate of qualification. Of the students who want to go backpacking, 43.4% are actually preparing backpacking trip.
Above all, the reason backpacking is so popular is that students have an opportunity to experience foreign culture at moderate prices. Besides, it is possible to establish a sense of independence by planning all travel schedules by yourself and overcoming some difficulties along the way. In this way you can wander anywhere you desire rather than being bound to the well-ordered plan of the travel agency. You are also able to take the chance to make acquaintances with foreigners by asking for help. On the other hand, a survey of UOS students on this trend also showed a different story that 31% of them are not satisfied with their travels. What makes them dissatisfied with their backpacking experience?
Backpacking is not a penniless trip. Choi Gu-cheol, a section chief of travel agency, Modetour Europe, said "The purpose of backpacking is to have a good trip with specific information, which you are interested in, and to gain more valuable moment in an inexpensive way. Therefore, a suitable cost helps you to create a memorable trip. If you go without food or to a terrible private house providing bed and meals to save money, you become exhausted and irritated because of reduced physical strength." Gong Jung-ryeol, a freshman of the Dept. of Physics, said "Earlier this year I traveled Egypt alone for 3 weeks. The route I took passed through many countries and the place that I stayed in was not luxurious. I might not have had a smooth journey. But I wanted to save money not to just cut down on travel expenses but to make my days more meaningful. I paid more for the enjoyable moments: I was spending lots to go to the deserts. I really wanted to see Egypt and go scuba diving off its coast. I think now that it was a real experience for me." In this way, even if you do not stay in a hotel suite or buy a first-class ticket, do not pass by the most famous restaurant in the area. With an easy and composed attitude, look around you. You cannot take the historic scenes with you but the scent of tea in that town will make the moment stay with you forever.
The second problem is that you should always have a purpose for a trip. These days most students preparing for a backpacking trip rely on a travel agency which provides a featureless trip to meet anyone`s needs. Package tours planned to satisfy many different kinds of desires often go to more countries each person is interested in. Then, people cannot help but visit areas they are not interested in. Invited Professor Niall O`Reilly said, "Last year when I went to Spain, I took a train and found that all of the passengers except three in my carriage were Korean students. I was surprised at the number of people! In Ireland most students in their early-twenties go anywhere they want to. However, they generally travel in groups of two or three people or even go alone. Because there are goals they try to meet." The purpose of your trip does not have to be a great one. Anything that inspires you to go forward and want to know or think can be the purpose of backpacking. That includes self-examination and of course, visiting relatives and friends. Throughout a trip with a simple goal, it can be a perfect tour not for everyone but for you. You might think seeing Paris makes your trip perfect when you stay in France. The key, however, to making your trip fantastic is not the places you have been to, but what you did and what you gained from being there.
If you are ready to start on a journey with these two points, the last thing you need is to learn basic information about the country like lifestyle, food culture, greetings, weather and so on. Remember, you can see only as much as you know. "At least if you learn some local language expressions before leaving for another country, you will have a rewarding trip" said Mr. Choi Gu-cheol.
In this way, approaching completion of a journey, you should have a strong mental attitude. Any students who will go backpacking should remember that they may be alone and it is possible nobody can help you. "Traveling a strange new environment as well as not having prepared thoroughly can make you exhausted. It`s not until you are prepared for backpacking that the trip is fun and satisfying. No pain, no gain" said Mr. Choi.