Backpacking’s future and its drifter past

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to deconstruct the backpacker label by reconstructing it using the historical antecedent of drifting. Following the deconstruction of backpacking’s near past, the author build a clearer conceptual foundation for backpacking’s future. Design/methodology/approach: The study is framed by scenario planning, which demands a critical review of the backpacking and an appreciation of its history in order to understand its future. Findings: Backpacking, ever evolving, remains difficult to articulate and challenges researchers to “keep up” with its complexity and heterogeneity. This paper argues that researchers must learn more about how backpacking “works” by opening a dialogue with its past, before engaging in further research. The paper finds that a poor conceptualisation of backpacking has led to a codification of backpacker criteria. Practical implications: Backpacking remains a research topic which draws disparate researchers using criteria that produces disparate results and deviations. By understanding its past, researchers will be better placed to explore the emancipatory impulses that drive backpackers today and in the future. Originality/value: This papers’ value lies in the retrospection process which explores backpacking’s near past so as to “make sense” of present research and present scenarios for it is the immediate future. The paper re-anchors backpacking by investigating the major historical, social and cultural events leading up to its emergence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-204
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Tourism Futures
Issue number3
Early online date8 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2018


  • backpackers
  • backpacking
  • drifting
  • scenario planning
  • tourism futures
  • tourism history

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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