Though the backpacker scene feels more hipster than hippie these days, the same formula remains: young travelers plus a small budget plus a long trip. While individuals certainly differ, the stereotype of a budget traveler toting a bedraggled pack to cheap destinations is there for a reason.
So where are the kids congregating these days? Here are our top ten backpacker locations (in no particular order):
A long-time favorite, Thailand's low costs, relative ease of travel, and scenic beaches are obvious draws. Add to those hill tribes, jungle and elephant trekking, and some awesome grub, and you have a nearly perfect combination - which is probably why the country also hosts a number of expats.
Need we say anything more? Laws are loose, and for those American kids who never had the chance to experiment, the freedom is heavenly. Oh, and there are sex shows.
Travelers learning Spanish flock to Antigua, where language schools and home stays are offered in the picturesque colonial town. Jungles, volcanoes, lakes and Mayan ruins round out the offerings.
"Buddha Lounge" music drifts across Palolem Beach, an impossibly cheap swoop of sand on India's west coast. It's easy to drop out for a while here, renting out some small, rickety beach hut and bobbing around in the warm sea.