Ever wondered how many backpackers are there in the world?
As the number of backpackers increase from just 6.6 million in 2007 to around 10.3 million in 2021, it’s no doubt that this travel form is becoming more popular than ever.
But really, what is backpacking?
It’s essentially a form of budget travel where you carry all your possessions in a backpack.
This includes staying in low-cost accommodations such as hostels and Airbnbs.
In fact, a lot of digital nomads start out as backpackers…
We have some of the latest and most interesting statistics about backpacking below, so let’s get into them!
Sources: We’ve also included the source of every statistics under the entries. Alternatively, go to the end of this post for the full list of research and articles referred to.
How many backpackers are there in the world?
There were around 10.75 million backpackers in the U.S in 2020.
Meanwhile, there are roughly 90,000 working holiday makers backpacking in Australia in 2022.
What is the average age to go backpacking?
The average age of backpackers is 24 years old, which is slightly older than the average age of 23 back in 2002.
What country has the most backpackers?
The top 5 countries of origin for backpackers in Australia are the UK (29.13%), Germany (20.76%), France (7.76%), Italy (4.49%), and Canada (4.32%).
Is backpacking becoming more popular?
Yes, backpacking is becoming more popular as the figures rise from 6.6 million people who went backpacking in the US in 2007 to 10.3 million in 2021.
Key backpacking statistics
- 10.3 million people went backpacking in the US in 2021, a relatively stable number from the 10.1 million backpackers back in 2014.
- In 2006, the number of participants in backpacking in the United States was 7.07 million. Backpackers have increased by 52% over the course of 14 years.
- The average age of backpackers has also increased, from 23 in 2002 to 24 in 2017.
- In June 2022, Vientiane, Laos, is the world’s most affordable city for backpacking. The average daily cost is just $19.39.
- On the other hand, the least affordable backpacking city in Europe is Zurich, Switzerland, where you could spend an average of $151.96 daily.
- Since 2007, the average amount that backpackers spend per trip has remained between €3,200 and €3,400.
- There are 90,000 working holiday makers backpacking in Australia in 2022, which is still slightly below the 130,000 backpackers recorded in 2019.
- Getting lost is a major concern when backpacking. Each year, an estimated 2,000-5,000 people go missing on trails.
- Between 2013 and 2016, the average duration of a backpacking trip decreased from 217 days to only 179 days.
General backpacking statistics
How many backpackers are there?
1. 45 million international backpacking trips were taken in 2002 and 44 million in 2017, which shows that the popularity of backpacking has remained generally the same over the past two decades.
2. 10.3 million people went backpacking in the US in 2021, a relatively stable number from the 10.1 million backpackers back in 2014.
In 2021, there were 10.3 million backpackeres in the US alone.
3. Still, this is a huge increase from the mere 6.6 million backpackers recorded in 2007. This shows that backpacking has become more popular throughout the years.
4. There were around 10.75 million backpackers in the U.S in 2020.
This was a slight increase from the 10.66 million participants in backpacking in 2019, which shows that the Covid-19 pandemic did not have much of an impact in this type of travel.
5. In 2006, the number of participants in backpacking in the United States was 7.07 million. Backpackers have increased by 52% over the course of 14 years.
Backpacking demographics statistics
What is the average age to go backpacking?
6. In 2017, there were 2.47 million youth participants (six to 17-years-olds) of backpacking.
7. In comparison, there were 1.68 million million young adult participants (between 18 and 24 years old) in backpacking in 2017.
8. The percentage of backpackers older than 30 years old has risen from less than 5% in 2002 to approximately 10% in 2017.
9. The average age of backpackers has also increased, from 23 in 2002 to 24 in 2017.
10. Studies have shown that this is connected to the decreasing number of student backpackers, from 65% in 2002 to 49% by 2017.
Where do people go backpacking?
11. In June 2022, Vientiane, Laos, is the world’s most affordable city for backpacking. The average daily cost is just $19.39, which already includes a dorm bed, three budget meals, two rides on public transport, and entertainment fund.
Entertainment in this survey is regarded as one paid cultural attraction and three budget beers.
12. It’s followed by Luang Prabang, Laos ($21.32), Pokhara, Nepal ($21.75), Chiang Mai, Thailand ($21.8), and Hanoi, Vietnam ($22.44).
13. In North America, the cheapest city destination for backpacking is Montreal in Canada, with $82.48 in average daily cost.
14. The second cheapest city for backpacking in North America is New Orleans, USA, where the daily price is $94.7.
15. They’re followed by Miami Beach ($97.9), Toronto ($98.92), and Vancouver (104.62) as the top five cheapest North American cities for backpacking.
16. Meanwhile, in Latin America, Quito is the cheapest backpacking city with only $25 of daily cost.
The capital city of Ecuador is followed by Sucre in Bolivia.
17. Over in Europe, Kyiv, Ukraine is the most affordable city to go backpacking. Its average daily cost is $37.69.
The cheapest city destination for backpacking in Europe is Kyiv, at an average of only $37.69 in its daily costs.
18. The other top five cheapest European cities for backpacking include: Budapest ($38.21), Bucharest ($38.43), Sofia ($38.48), and Krakow ($41.03).
19. On the other hand, the least affordable backpacking city in Europe is Zurich, Switzerland, where you could spend an average of $151.96 daily for budget accommodation, meals, transportation, and entertainment.
20. Venice ($125.77), Oslo ($124.07), Bergen ($124.04), and London ($122.18) are also in the five most expensive cities in Europe for backpacking.
With an average daily cost of $125.77, Venice is the second most expensive European city for backpacking.
21. According to WYSETC, the main backpacker destination of 2017 was USA, which was visited by 10% of all backpackers.
The USA had overtaken Australia, which was the number one backpacking destination in 2007 with 11% of all backpackers.
Backpacking market and spending
How much do backpackers spend on average?
22. Since 2007, the average amount that backpackers spend per trip has remained between €3,200 and €3,400.
23. This is a significant increase from the average backpacker’s spending of €1,980 in 2002.
24. For backpackers who travel three months or longer, only 10% of the trip costs are typically covered with money earned while travelling.
25. Intrinsically tied to backpacking as a travel trend, the backpack market worldwide is actually worth $15.9 billion in 2022.
26. The global backpack market is expected to reach $30.85 billion by 2029, at an impressive CAGR of 9.9%.
This industry owes part of its growth to backpacking as an increasingly popular way to travel.
27. Travel type backpacks in specific make up 48.2% of the entire market.
Travel backpacks usually consist of multiple compartments, zippers, and pockets.
Backpacking statistics in Australia
How many backpackers are there in Australia?
28. There are 90,000 working holiday makers backpacking in Australia in 2022, which is still slightly below the 130,000 backpackers recorded in 2019.
Backpackers, which includes working holidaymakers and international students, make up an important proportion of Australia’s workforce.
29. Of course, this is still a significant recovery from the December 2021 low of just 19,000 backpackers across Australia.
30. The three favorite backpacking destinations in Australia in 2020 are Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, with Sydney welcoming around 370,000 visitors that year.
31. They are followed by North Queensland, the Gold Coast, and North New South Wales.
32. There were 439 thousand international backpackers who came to Australia in 2020, much less than in 2019.
33. In 2020, backpackers in Australia spent $1.3 billion on food, drinks, and accommodation. This is significantly less than the total of $8.6 billion expenditure by non-backpackers.
All in all, backpackers tend to spend less on services and activities while travelling compared to non-backpackers.
34. Out of all the backpackers who visited New South Wales in Australia in 2016, the largest proportion of backpackers by country of origin was those from Germany (62 thousand).
35. In terms of age group, 10% of all backpackers who visited New South Wales were 15 to 19 year olds.
36. In 2016, around 35% of backpackers in New South Wales used public transport to get around.
37. According to the number of job applications per country on Backpacker Job Board, the number one source of backpackers in Australia is the UK (29.13%).
38. The top 5 countries of origin for backpackers in Australia also include Germany (20.76%), France (7.76%), Italy (4.49%), and Canada (4.32%).
French residents make up 7.76% of all backpackers into Australia, making them the third biggest country source.
Backpacking safety statistics
Is backpacking dangerous?
39. Getting lost is a major concern when backpacking. Each year, an estimated 2,000-5,000 people go missing on trails.
Hiking is a popular activity among backpackers, including those who go glamping.
40. Out of those numbers, around 35% would sustain an injury or death before they were found.
41. 3 in 4 Americans are chronically dehydrated, and according to OutdoorTroop dehydration is also a huge risk when backpacking and going on trails.
42. From the 4 million British overseas traveller between 2014 and 2015, 19,244 travellers wer reported to need consular assistance while abroad.
Only 0.48% of all UK residents who travelled internationally between 2014 and 2015
Issues included everything from losing passport to serious crime.
43. According to the 2022 Global Peace Index, Iceland is the most peaceful and thus the safest country for backpacking.
[Global Peace Index]
The ranking was determined and calculated from 23 indicators, including but not limited to, societal safety and security, any ongoing conflict, and degree of militarisation.
Iceland is therefore one of the best places for solo backpackers.
44. The second most peaceful and safest country for backpackers is New Zealand.
[Global Peace Index]
45. In fact, an estimated 65,000 backpackers visited Aotearoa, or New Zealand, in 2019.
New Zealand is a favorite destination for female backpackers because it’s one of the safest and most peaceful countries in the world.
46. They’re followed by Ireland, Denmark, and Austria.
[Global Peace Index]
Along with Ireland in the third position, the top 10 most peaceful countries are rounded up by Portugal, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Singapore, and Japan.
47. A traveller’s survey in spring of 2017 showed that 8% of Americans thought that backpacking trips had greatly improved over the last five years since 2012.
Backpacking travel activities
What do backpackers do when travelling?
48. Between 2013 and 2016, the average duration of a backpacking trip decreased from 217 days to only 179 days.
49. Both museum and nightclub visits declined significantly between 2002 and 2017.
WYSETC study hypothesizes that this is because of the general decrease in the average length of backpacker trips.
50. The fall in nightclub visits is noticeable across all age groups.
However, young backpackers aged 20-29 make up the bulk of backpackers who go to nightclubs during their travels. This includes about 41% of 23 to 25 year-olds.
Visiting nightclubs while backpacking become less popular among the older generations, including millennial travellers and also baby boomers.
51. Meanwhile, language learning among backpackers has become more popular, rising from below 12% in 2002 to more than 32% in 2017.
52. Living like a local is also appealing to more backpackers, from 12% in 2002 to 32% in 2017.
53. Backpacking itself is a subcategory of hiking, which has 58.7 million participants in 2021, or 889 thousand more than the previous year.
As the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic abated, the number of hiking participants increased to reach 58.7 million in 2021.
Backpacking accommodation trends
Where do backpackers stay?
54. In terms of the cheapest European destination for hostel accommodation, Budapest topped the list at only GBP 4.12 per night.
The average hostel accommodation nightly rate in Budapest is GBP 4.12, which is the cheapest in all of Europe. Budapest is followed by Sofia and Sarajevo.
55. 21% of backpackers used Airbnb as their accommodation.
This shows that backpackers are using a wider range of accommodation nowadays, with 21% using Airbnb.
56. A recent marketing email campaign by the Youth Hostels Association (YHA) saw a 30% click-thorugh rate from 100,000 backpackers.
The YHA is known for providing affordable youth hostel accommodations and is especially popular among backpackers.
Over 30,000 people opened the email titled ‘Have you been dreaming of Australia’ within hours, showing a huge interest in backpackers who want to visit Australia. This is a dramatic increase because the general rate is only 1-2%.
57. In fact, since late 2020, six YHA properties have been sold for a total of $40 million.
These sales show a growing interest among investors in the backpacker’s accommodation market.
That’s all for the best statistics about backpacking.
It’s an increasingly popular form of travel because it’s low-budget and can be done in both short and long term.
We hope these statistics were insightful for you, whether you’re a backpacker or wanting to understand more about the market!
Did we miss any other aspects of backpacking?
Feel free to comment!
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published 2023-10-10 12:31:24