Destination unknown: Backpacking benefits

While it isn’t exactly a new idea, travelling or backpacking abroad for an extended period of time (six months or more) is often an activity that is wildly celebrated today. And while it is certainly a lot easier to plan where and how to get to places, it is still a massive decision to make, and an incredible experience to go through.

“I think it gives you a perspective that nothing else can,” said Hannah Marie, a California resident who has travelled through Southeast Asia and Australia. “I think that other countries are better at this than we are, for sure, because on a stereotypical basis, we don’t travel and we live in our own little bubble here. We have no idea what the rest of the world is up to.”

While backpacking allows you to see different places of the world and experience new things, it is also a major factor in your growth as a person. As Marie said, whether you are travelling alone or with a friend, fending for yourself away from home for that long can have major implications on you for the rest of your life.

“Travelling gives you something… I don’t even know the word for it… but it changes you,” Marie said. “An appreciation for life and people, and it restored my faith in humanity. If you don’t travel. I feel you’re missing out and stuck at a certain level of ignorance… educated or not. Some things cannot be taught in a textbook but have to be experienced.

Harrison Mortimer, however, a horticulture student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, is not one for travelling himself. He disagrees with Marie on the backpacking idea for a number of reasons.

“Well first and foremost, I do not trust anyone to water my plants,” said Mortimer. “It costs a lot and most people come back broke. I have more important things to me here, and if anything were to happen to my loved ones while I was away, I would not be able to handle it. I’m also a very picky eater and I’m not overly excited by things in general. A trip to my family’s cabin on the Sunshine Coast is enough for me to get away when needed.”

While financial stability is a potential issue with backpacking for an extended period, Marie thinks that it is worth the risk.

“You can always make money when you come back home,” she said. “But there’s so much out there that the world and its people have to offer. Luckily for you and I, we know and are eager to experience as much as we can. You realize the overwhelming majority of people are amazing and will welcome you with open arms, because they are generally in the same boat.”


I put myself out there. I have dreams to travel the world and plans to make it happen. I'm a huge sports guy but I've found my true passion in travelling. I realized while travelling that being a reporter may not be my thing.... but I can't say I don't enjoy journalism...


  • Daniella Javier
    Reply December 9, 2014

    Daniella Javier

    If I could afford it, I would travel to as many places as I could! I agree with Marie’s comment about textbooks and how they can’t teach us everything. When I travelled with my parents a couple of years ago during the school year, my teacher said that I would learn a lot while travelling. It’s hard to believe that some people don’t like taking vacations because they don’t want someone else watering their plants. Everyone needs a vacation now and then!

  • Martin Schauhuber
    Reply December 9, 2014

    Martin Schauhuber

    As somebody that loves backpacking and tries to do it at least once a year (even if only for a couple of weeks), I often get the feeling that people don’t realize how much they can influence the kind of backpacking trip they’ll have – especially in financial terms. It can be like a regular touristy vacation (with the corresponding price tag), but it can also be just adventuring through places on the cheap – if you’re short on money, you’ll usually be able to find some hostel or bar to work at. I get how tempting it can be to stay in Canada seeing how beautiful this country is, but for most non-travellers, it would probably just take one leap of faith to catch the travelbug forever.

  • Joseph Keller
    Reply December 10, 2014

    Joseph Keller

    I’m lucky enough to get a family discount with Air Canada so I’ve been able to do a bit of backpacking, though only for a few weeks at a time. It can be scary the first time and it defiantly has its causes and risks but I think the benefits of the experience. You learn self sufficiency in a whole new way when its just you and a backpack.

  • Dylan Seminow
    Reply December 11, 2014

    Dylan Seminow

    I feel like being a student is the one time in our lives it is totally acceptable to be broke, so I intend on capitalizing on that hopefully soon enough by backpacking somewhere. I have been able to travel quite a bit with my family but those have always been very planned vacations so it would be awesome to see the world on my own and make all the inevitable stupid mistakes.

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