Are You Ready to Hit the Road?A chance to mature through travel
Park Joo-yuen Assisstant Reporter  |
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승인 2006.03.01  00:00:00
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Editor’s Note

Too soon to think about summer vacation? It's never too soon. As soon as school starts, you will find yourself longing for summer.
  Besides, backpacking, one of the main features of "romantic college life", requires several months of preparing. Finding a theme, tracing the itinerary, calculating the cost and earning money... That is why this month's issue helps you enter the exciting world of backpack travelling with its pros and cons. Start dreaming about your own unique summer vacation.

  - Lim Ga-eul, Editor of Culture Div.

HAVE YOU ever heard of the 50 MUST-DOs in your twenties? These 50 events are commonly shared by youth in their twenties. The list suggests reading books to broaden your thoughts, volunteering for the poor to start making little differences in the world, and falling in love because love is required to feel the true happiness and sadness that we must all go through in life. Another item that particularly catches many people's eyes is backpack traveling where you can learn what the real world is like.

▲ Photos taken in India with Indian children and in front of the Taj Mahal.
(Contributed by Lee Yoo-mi)
What is backpacking?

  As you can see by the name, backpacking infers traveling with only essential necessities and carrying them with you in your bag. The point of backpacking is to cut down traveling cost to its minimum and enjoy your journey at a low price. This might restrict you from sleeping at cozy places and eating nice food, but people should remember that the motive of backpacking differs from normal touring.

Why do students go backpacking?

  Every event has a purpose, and so does traveling. Surely, most students just don't go on a trip only to spend their free time and sightsee. Backpacking especially requires more precise planning because it depends entirely on how you behave and prepare ahead.

  "I planned about two months in advance to sort out which places to visit, what transportation to take, and how much money I would need. In this process I had the opportunity to test myself if I really am capable of managing on my own," says Oh Min-hee (Soph., Seoul Women's Univ.) who went to India in winter, 2005. "After the journey, I also realized that my view towards the world was too narrow to foresee various events, environments, and cultures. In the end, although most of my problems arose from language issues, it was Indian college students' different life styles that made me really re-evaluate my college life in Korea." Other factors more personal- can influence one's motive to travel. "I toured around Korea by bike with a companion because I was inspired by the book, 'Bike Journey' by Kim Hoon," says Kang Tae-young (Soph., Dept. of History). "He wrote of his feelings and adventures from his journey. After reading, I developed a strong adventurous spirit, so I decided to tour the country by bike."

The changing trend of traveling

  It has been more than 10 years since backpacking began. And for the last six years, the number of people going backpacking has increased rapidly. The biggest reason is because knapsack traveling is now a "must do" event among college students. "In today's global society, unlike our parents' generation, college students have more opportunities to directly or indirectly experience foreign cultures. Also, the education that they receive plays a role in having a global mind, and so students feel less uncomfortable in using foreign languages in different environments," says Won Shin-hee (Manager, Hyecho Adventure Tours, LTD).

  At first, Japan, China, and Europe were the most frequently visited places by Korean travelers. Nowadays, however, going to unfamiliar and less developed places such as India, Nepal, Tibet, and South America is becoming popular. "Europe was and still is the most popular tourist attraction to Korean college students," says Won. "However, a growing number of students are willing to travel to less-known places. The biggest reason is because Europe is so well known that it cannot be considered 'fresh' anymore. Also, the expense needed in order to travel Europe is much too high for college students. On the other hand, India or Western Asia require about less than half of the cost of Europe." Kim Ji-young, Manager in Shoes String Travel Agency claims, "Our company is developing traveling programs to South America and Africa because we think consumer demand will increase."

  The forms of traveling have also developed under the influence of people's various demands. In the beginning, most travelers went on a tour with a guide. This didn't require sophisticated planning because it was already planned by the travel agency and led by a guide. Later, people began to plan their routes and collect information on their own. They only needed a little help from the agency, like making reservations in hotels and arranging for transportation. As a result, many new types of traveling products such as air-tel(airplane ticket+hotel), hotel pack(only hotel reservations), and group backpacking are now appearing. These products can be useful and very cost-effective when you find the matching one for your plan. 

  In addition, goals of traveling vary nowadays. In the past, the main goal was just sightseeing, but now people have more diverse purposes for traveling. For example, there is theme traveling. Basically any trip can be regarded as theme traveling if it has an extraordinary purpose like visiting sites of the Hiroshima Bombing or seeing the Middle East, which once led the world's civilization. Moreover, students desire not just to travel, but to learn something from it. On a new program like Top Deck, you can experience various cultures and learn language at the same time by traveling with foreigners, so its popularity is increasing. Another big difference compared to the past is that views towards traveling have changed. "It was difficult for civilians to go on foreign trips because the Korean government didn't allow them," says Kim. "There was a time when if someone had traveled abroad, that became a major point of discussion between friends. And the biggest factor of a trip used to be cutting down on expenses. Compared to the past, people consider travel's goals more importantly."

  Moreover, backpacking is becoming rougher. This means that people just head out for their destination without any precise plan. They visit places based on the days' situations and their spontaneous feelings. This offers an opportunity where people can really test their problem solving skills and exploring abilities.

▲ Unlike ten years ago when backpacking was uncommon, programs like Top Deck offers a chance to make friends from different cultures.
(Provided by Shoes Stiring Travel Agncy)
Things to watch out for

Although youth has unlimited power and passion, there are things to watch out for when traveling. Apart from basic elements such as safety and health, there are several more to consider: Problems might occur between partners because even if they start off together, they cannot have the exact same thoughts and plans about the journey. "On the third night of our journey, we all sat down and talked freely about the uncomfortable atmosphere around us," says Lee Yoo-mi (Soph., Ehwa Women's Univ.) who went to India in winter, 2005. "As a result of sharing our thoughts we prevented serious conflict from breaking. So it is important to work it out with plenty of conversation."
Furthermore, it is crucial to have background information about where you are going. Not just because it is convenient to have information on landmarks and culture, but because your range of learning and experiencing differs whether you know about the place well or not.

  But always remember, you shouldn't rely too much on your youth. "Youth is definitely full of passion and power, so youngsters have a tendency to do anything they wish and they don't anticipate the agony that might occur. Sometimes they even act dangerously and illegally, giving others a negative impression of Korea," says Won. When ample preparation and reasonable behavior meet youthful passion, the resulting synergetic energy will make the journey more fun!

Embracing traveling culture enthusiastically

  It is important to embrace traveling culture enthusiastically and make it a part of one's leisure activities. Since traveling requires a lot of planning and complicated procedures, there may come a time when an agency's help is needed. So there's a chance that one might just fall into a commercial marketing plan and lose the original purpose of one's journey. "Luxury traveling was regarded as enjoying a trip with the most luxurious and attractive events. However this may give consumers unrealistic expectations because these types of trips are more likely to be a marketing technique by travel agencies," says Kim. It isn't wrong to receive help from agencies but remember, it is important to stay on your own track and not imprudently follow the industry's commercial business.

▲ You can see exotic places, scenes, and people when backpacking.
(Provided by Hye Cho Avenue Tours, LTD.)
It's the perfect chance - If you are ready

  In college, there is more opportunity to carry out your plans than ever. Not just because college is a place where one can live one's dreams, but also because it's where one has time, the thing more precious than gold. College is the perfect time in life where one can enjoy traveling without the burden of reality. There are things learned through traveling that cannot be learned in any lectures. Wouldn't it be wise to use your time and youth in a meaningful, life-changing way? Start planning now and grab your bag and head out for somewhere during your summer vacation. This is real life.



EVER SINCE I was in high school, I wanted to go backpacking with close friends once college starts. Writing this article, I couldn? hide my excitement because I was thrilled just imagining those amazing places and experience those new cultures.
  The unique route Won recommended (the route in the box) especially interested me the most. Although the traveling might be tough, it would offer me a great chance to learn how to enhance my life, rather than just gaining pleasure by buying new conveniences. Also, I realized once more that to have a successful travel, you have to plan ahead and gather as much information as possible.
  One thing that you always have to keep in mind is that youth is full of passion and it becomes useless if you don? let out. Personally, I consider traveling as the best opportunity to extrude your passion. The dream that I had since high school is about to come true because I? traveling this coming summer. I will also remember to express my passion at the fullest, always.


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