Below, you will find more than 30 backpacking routes around the world featuring travel itineraries in Europe, Asia, Oceania, Africa and the Americas. There’s a mix of popular and well known routes such as the “banana pancake trail” in Southeast Asia and “gringo trail” in Latin America, as well as more off the beaten track destinations such as the Balkans.
Hopefully these can be useful to you as a rough backpacking trip planner. However, in all cases you may want to alter them slightly to suit your own interests and time/money restrictions. They are only designed to be a starting point to help travellers plan their own backpacking route and plans often change when you actually start travelling in any case.
Backpacking Routes for Travel in 2023
We have four main regional routes, one for each of the four best known regions when it comes to backpacking and shoestring travel. These key routes may be best for first-time travellers or anyone looking for a big trip across one region.
You could also potentially combine some of these itineraries if you are trying to figure out how to plan a backpacking trip around the world. It would take a little over a year to complete them all!
Popular Backpacking Routes
|Region||Start & End||Countries||Time|
|Southeast Asia Mainland Backpacking Route||Bangkok to Singapore||Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore||3-4 Months|
|Central Europe by Rail||Amsterdam to Paris||The Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Switzerland, France||3-4 Weeks|
|South America Backpacking Route||Cartagena to Rio de Janeiro||Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil||6 Months|
|Central America Itinerary||Cancun to Panama City||Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama||2 Months|
If you are looking for something a bit smaller or just a bit of inspiration for your next travel adventure, there are plenty of other options. Below you can see a selection of backpacking itineraries in individual or neighbouring countries. Scroll down the page to find suggested time-frames and a shoestring budget for each of these routes.
The budgets are geared towards backpackers willing to stay in shared dorms and try to watch what they spend whilst still having a good time and moving to a new place every 2-3 days on average. Exact costs may vary wildly according to your own travel style and habits though.
Other Ideas for Backpacking Trips
|Asia||Indonesia | Thailand | India | Myanmar | Vietnam | Laos | Philippines | Taiwan | Cambodia | Sri Lanka | Japan | Malaysia|
|Oceania||Australia | New Zealand|
|Europe||Balkans | Hungary-Romania-Bulgaria | Spain & Portugal | Baltic | Scandinavia | South Caucasus | Greece | UK|
|South America||Patagonia | Brazil|
|North & Central America||Mexico | Jamaica | California | Panama|
Europe Backpacking Routes
Time – 3-4 weeks | Budget – US$1450 + Railpass (cost depends on nationality/age)
Nowhere else in the world is so much history, culture and variety packed into such a small area. Just a few hours on a train can transfer you from one great European capital to another as languages and customs change on an almost daily basis. Perfect for anyone looking to go backpacking for a month or a bit less.
Time – 6 weeks | Budget – US$2200-2750
Take a trip around Iberia’s best cities, towns and beaches. Spending a summer in Spain and Portugal is certainly up there with the best backpacking routes in Europe.
Time – 2 months | Budget – US$1800-2400
The Balkans is a relatively under-visited part of Europe but it makes for a great budget travel destination. Explore medieval towns, mountains, lakes and beautiful coastlines as you take in six countries in two months.
Time – 2-3 weeks | Budget – US$800
Take a trip around the chilly Baltic Sea region and visit some of Europe’s most beautiful cities including Tallinn and Vilnius.
Time – 3 to 5 weeks | Budget – US$2300-2850
Featuring some of the main travel highlights in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, our compact travel itinerary explores the best Scandinavia has to offer and also suggests some tips for trying to get by on a shoestring budget in an expensive part of the world.
Time – 3 weeks | Budget – US$650
Get firmly off the beaten track and explore the natural wonders and quirky mix of old and new in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan.
Time – 4 Weeks | Budget – US$1450
Explore Athens and around before hopping over to some of the very best Greek islands with this 4 week itinerary. Amble around ancient ruins, sip Ouzo on a cobbled patio and stuff your face full of Dolmades and Moussaka in a country packed with history and gorgeous scenery.
Time – 3 Weeks | Budget – US$1200
Taking in England, Scotland and Wales, our backpacking route from London to Edinburgh takes in historic towns and cities and the best of Britain’s countryside.
Time – 3 Weeks | Budget – US$1200
Featuring historic cities, Transylvanian castles, coastal resorts and mountain retreats, get off the beaten path in Europe with our backpacking route for Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania.
Oceania Backpacking Routes
Time – 2-3 months | Budget – US$6000
Our Oz route features an exploration of the largest island on the planet which ranks up there with the very best backpacking trips. We visit the cities, beaches, rainforests and locate the best parties in one of the world’s easiest and most popular countries to travel in with a lively backpacker scene.
Time – 5 weeks | Budget – US$2000
Starting in Christchurch, loop around the South Island for some of New Zealand’s best wildlife, camping, glaciers, and adventure junkie destinations. The route then heads to North Island, home of indigenous culture, natural wonders and the famous filming locations from the Lord of the Rings films.
Asia Backpacking Routes
Time – 3-4 months | Budget – US$3000
The most famous of the major backpacking regions and it seems to get more popular every year. From visiting ancient temples to chilling out on stunning Thai Islands, everyone can find their scene here. That said a big draw for many backpackers was the crazy party culture including the infamous full moon parties which may come alive again in 2023 after a quiet few years.
Time – 2 months | Budget – US$1200
India is one of the most intoxicating countries to travel in and this is one of Asia’s best backpacking routes. Culture shock awaits on every corner and for better or worse, it’s an experience you won’t forget in a hurry.
Time – 2 months | Budget – US$1500-2500
Take in all the best that the ever popular backpacker destination that is Thailand has to offer. The best beaches, party destinations and islands as well as the cultural highlights of the North.
Time – 3-4 weeks | Budget – US$650
Looking for the traditional Southeast Asia then look no further than Myanmar (Burma), home to some of the world’s most beautiful Buddhist temples and palaces. Travellers started to come here in bigger numbers during the 2010’s but ethical concerns about the Burmese regime have returned in recent years leading to a fresh drop.
Time – 3 weeks | Budget – US$550
Take a ride on the famous train line that reunited a country and trundles its way down from Hanoi in the North to Saigon in the South taking in the best of Vietnam as you go.
Time – 5-6 weeks | Budget – US$1100
Looking for more than a standard trip around Southeast Asia? Indonesia offers up limitless opportunities for adventure without, for the most part, the crowds you find on the backpacker trail elsewhere in the region.
Time – 15-30 days | Budget – US$600-800
The shortest of our Southeast Asia backpacking routes, it could be condensed into a 2 week trip should you have less time, particularly with fast trains now cutting travel times in Laos.
Time – 4 Weeks | Budget – $900
Our backpacking route for the Philippines explores some of the world’s best scuba-diving locations. Featuring the best of Palawan and the Central Visayas, you will discover just how beautiful this country is.
Time – 2-3 Weeks | Budget – $700
Taiwan is small, budget-friendly and boasts great transport links. It’s built for independent travel and more backpackers are starting to realise that!
Time – 2-3 Weeks | Budget – $1400
Explore the land of the rising sun by bullet train as you whizz around Japan in two to three weeks taking in all the most popular destinations including Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima.
Time – 3 Weeks | Budget – $500
A nation of great contrasts, with incredible ancient ruins and unspoiled islands as well as extreme poverty and tales of recent horrors. Our itinerary covers the best Cambodia has to offer in the space of just a few weeks.
Time – 3 Weeks | Budget – $450
One of the world’s emerging backpacker and indeed travel destinations, Sri Lanka is a very affordable country with loads to see and do and an extensive train network perfect for anyone seeking a new adventure.
Time – 3 Weeks | Budget – $600
From culture in Kuala Lumpur and Penang to wild rainforests and island retreats, Malaysia is another great Southeast Asian destination with a manageable size and relatively low costs.
South America Backpacking Routes
Time – 5-6 months | Budget – US$6000
South America is an exhilarating continent to visit and has long been a favourite destination for backpackers. From the beaches of Brazil to adventures in the Andes, there is something for all tastes in this part of the world and this is our longest itinerary which could take up to half a year!
Time – 2 months | Budget – US$3000
Explore fantastic coastal cities, glorious beaches, waterfalls, giant areas of diverse nature and take in the biggest carnivals on the planet before venturing into the Amazon to round off your Brazilian adventure.
Time – 5-6 weeks | Budget – US$2000
Explore the weird wilderness of South America’s far south here as you head towards the end of the world. Hop in and out of Chile and Argentina to experience glaciers, volcanoes, stunning hikes, beautiful lakes and wonderful wildlife. Nature lovers look no further!
Backpacking Itineraries for Central America & North America
Time – 2 months | Budget – US$1800
This is the land of chicken buses, explosive volcanoes, cloud forests, ancient ruins and so much more. Central America never lacks for colourful surprises and at times can be completely bonkers. It is a small region so it is much easier to visit several countries in a short space of time, although travel can still be slow.
Time – 2 weeks | Budget – US$500
Short but sweet, this two week Panama itinerary takes in jungle hikes, Caribbean islands and one of the region’s best cities. Start in Bocas del Toro and end up in the wonderful San Blas Islands.
Time – 5 weeks | Budget – US$1100-1700
With Maya ruins, mountain towns and mighty waves, there’s plenty of fun to be had on our Mexico backpacking route. Taking a little over a month, it’d make for a great summer break and offers a nice balance with a dose of culture and history as well as plenty of time to relax and enjoy the odd lively Mexican night out.
Time – 2 Weeks | Budget – US$600
Short but sweet, our two week Jamaica itinerary takes in the best that the Caribbean island of Jamaica has to offer. Learn about the life and times of Bob Marley and the reggae music he pioneered in Kingston. Explore some of the island’s natural wonders in the Blue Mountains and Ocho Rios areas before chilling out on the long beach in Negril at the end of the trip.
Time – 2 Weeks | Budget – US$1000
Possibly the most famous state in the USA, California is home to a little bit of everything with vibrant cities, stunning coastlines, giant national parks, mountainous regions, massive forests and even a desert. This ambitious two week itinerary tries to squeeze as much in as possible and features iconic destinations such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and Yosemite National Park.
Africa Backpacking Routes
Time – 3 weeks | Budget – US$650
On the doorstep of Europe, Morocco is easily accessible and boasts one of Africa’s best rail networks. It’s also very cheap and full of fascinating places to visit so it makes for a great travel destination. From maze-like souks to the wonders of the Sahara, Morocco is full of mystery and intrigue.
Extend your Backpacking Trips
While travelling is affordable in many of the regions detailed above, a big backpacking trip is still going to require some significant savings, even in the cheapest parts of the world. There are various tips and tricks that will help you cut your travel costs, but your best bet for lengthening your time abroad will most likely be to find short-term work as you travel or some form of work exchange.
As well as saving you money, a work exchange can prove to be one of the most rewarding parts of a backpacking trip. It can offer you the chance to really get to know local people and learn about their way of life rather than just passing through towns and moving on every few days.
You can sometimes find such opportunities as you travel. However, some advanced planning may help. Sign up to Worldpackers using our $10 discount code to apply for placements in 170 countries around the world.