Backpacking is a great way to see the world, but some countries are more suited to it than others. The best places to backpack combine inexpensive, easy-to-come-by lodgings like hostels along with cheap, preferably delicious food and breathtaking scenery. If you have a US passport, here are 5 of the world's best destinations for backpacking:
Nepal is one of the most popular backpacking destinations, and also one of the most beautiful. The main draw here is the Himalayas, which form an unforgettable backdrop for trails like the Annapurna Circuit. Tea houses dot the route to provide cheap refreshment and a place to sleep for weary backpackers. Flights out here aren't cheap, but once you arrive, you can easily live on less than $20 a day.
To backpack in Nepal, you'll need a Nepalese visa, which you can pick up when you arrive in the airport, and a trekking permit.
Thailand beckons backpackers with the promise of cheap, deliciously spicy food, ancient temples, gorgeous beaches and an exciting night life. Like Nepal, flights out are expensive but cost of living is low once you're there.
While it's not nearly as cheap as Southeast Asia, Australia offers a number of experiences that simply can't be duplicated. Imagine seeing iconic native wildlife like kangaroos and koala bears up close and personal. Other activities include hiking in the Outback, lounging on the beach or strapping on scuba gear to explore the Great Barrier Reef.
Home of the original Bohemia, the Czech Republic is a Mecca for backpackers looking to experience the castles and coffee culture of old Europe at a reduced cost. Great beer is a another bonus. However, if you aspire to backpack in the Czech Republic, you might want to get out there within the next couple of years. Prices are expected to be much higher after the country joins the Eurozone in 2013.
Portugal's recent economic woes have created a silver lining for backpackers: the chance to experience the Mediterranean at a much lower price. An excellent train system makes getting from one city to another a breeze.
Step one in planning your backpacking adventure, of course, is to apply for a US passport. You should do this well in advance of your trip, as it can take six weeks or even longer to process your application.