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One of the primary motivations for backpacking is the desire for adventure and exploration. Backpackers are often drawn to the thrill of the unknown, seeking to discover new places, cultures, and experiences. They also enjoy the sense of freedom that comes with venturing off the beaten path while also embracing budget-friendly travel that allows them to extend their travels.

Despite their incessant hunger for adventure, the reality is that travel often involves a lot of downtime even for backpackers, especially when transiting between places. It’s during these periods where you have a choice of catching up on sleep, doing a bit of people watching, or simply allowing yourself to be bored.

Alternatively, you can embrace your hobbies or find new ones thanks to technology and the ability to head online from nearly anywhere at any time. If you’re a backpacker looking for ways to fill your downtime during your next travel adventure, here’s a guide to hobbies and activities you can take up online.

A Backpacker’s Guide to Enjoying Downtime: Online Hobbies Unveiled

Digital Creativity Unleashed

Backpackers often have a creative spark, eager to blaze trails across digital platforms as they do in the real world while traveling. Being digitally creative while traveling can be a fulfilling way to document and share your journeys, stay connected with others which is often important to backpackers who usually embrace the social aspect backpacking brings, and even develop new artistic skills.

Blogging and photography are classic outlets, but many other avenues are also available. Digital drawing and graphic designing on platforms like Adobe Spark or Canva allow you to document your travels in unique and personalized ways. Moreover, creating music or podcasts using apps like GarageBand or Anchor can be both fun and a learning curve, offering a fresh way to share your experiences with the world.

There’s also the realm of digital storytelling through platforms like Medium or micro-blogging sites like Tumblr, where your travel anecdotes can find a home. Additionally, video editing apps like InShot or Kinemaster allow you to create captivating travel vlogs, making your digital footprint vibrant and engaging.

Use platforms like Instagram Live, Facebook Live, or YouTube Live to interact with your followers in real-time. Share live travel experiences, answer questions, or conduct virtual tours.

Some other ways to be digitally creative include experimenting with VR or 360-degree photography and videography to create immersive content that allows viewers to experience your travels in a unique way.  You can also collaborate with local artists, musicians, or other creative individuals to create joint projects or events that showcase local culture and talent.

If your travels allow for it, you can engage in remote work or freelance projects. Many digital nomads regularly combine work and travel to fund their travels. If you have expertise in a particular area, consider offering online courses or workshops related to your travel experiences. This could include language classes, cooking classes, or cultural workshops.

Virtual Communities: A Touch of Home

Being on the road can sometimes feel lonely, but online communities allow backpackers to always have support from online communities right at their fingertips. Platforms like Meetup or TravellersPoint connect you with fellow travelers or locals, organizing group activities that can be joined virtually or in person.

Meanwhile, joining forums or social media groups related to your interests such as hiking, cooking, music, or language exchange helps create a sense of belonging and offers a space to share and gather insights.

These virtual gatherings can turn into real-world meetups, especially between like-minded backpackers, forging lasting friendships beyond your journey. Additionally, engaging in online workshops or webinars can be a way to learn new skills or gain knowledge about a destination, helping to enrich your travel experiences.

Online Gaming: A Modern Twist to Traditional Pastime

Games have always been a classic way to fill downtime while traveling, but the digital realm has taken this enjoyment to a new level. The charm of traditional card games remains timeless, but thanks to tech you no longer need to carry a physical deck of cards to play. Online platforms have recreated countless card and board games in digital formats, ensuring you can enjoy a round of Poker or Monopoly no matter where you are.

The ability to play poker or slots online has become a cherished activity among travelers. It’s not even so much about the games or gambling aspect, rather it’s the friendly competition and the laughter shared between friends or strangers who may live in different countries. Platforms offering “home games” have enabled private poker rooms that can be set up with friends or fellow travelers who’ve recently let’s say met in a hostel or pub while backpacking.

The process is straightforward and simply involves logging in or creating an account, setting up games like poker to your preferences with a quick and easy process, and then sharing the game link with others to enjoy a bit of digital social interaction. It’s a modern take on a classic game, bringing people together even when the road takes them far apart.

The world of online gaming extends beyond cards to encompass a variety of genres like strategy, adventure, and trivia, which can be equally engaging. Platforms like Steam or Epic Games offer many different games that can be enjoyed solo or with travel companions, providing a fun way to unwind and enjoy some downtime after a full day of physically exploring a destination.

Mindfulness Apps: Inner Peace on the Go

Practicing mindfulness and meditation techniques to help you stay centered and reduce stress while on the road is important. Amidst the hustle of travel, finding moments of tranquility is essential when you as a backpacker often only have yourself to rely on, and mindfulness apps like Headspace or Calm offer guided meditation and relaxation techniques that help you unwind.

You can also utilize online yoga classes or fitness apps ensure you maintain a healthy routine, nurturing your body and mind while on the go. The seamless blend of technology with mindfulness practices has made it easier than ever for backpackers to carry a pocket-sized peace sanctuary wherever they roam.

Using wellness blogs or engaging with online health communities can also serve as a reservoir of support and information, aiding in maintaining a balanced and healthy lifestyle amidst nomadic adventures.

Learn a New Language

Use language learning apps and online resources to pick up essential phrases in the languages of the countries you plan to visit. Learning a new language digitally while traveling is a convenient and effective way to enhance your travel experience and better connect with locals.

There are numerous language learning apps available that can be used on the go such as Duolingo, Memrise, Lengo, or Babbel. Consistency is key to progress when it comes to learning a new language so consider using any travel downtime such as waiting for flights or during long bus/train rides for language practice.

As you become more comfortable with the basics, expand your vocabulary to cover topics relevant to your travels, such as ordering food, asking for directions, or discussing your interests. Some language learning apps even have community features where you can connect with native speakers and others eager to learn to get additional practice and their feedback.

In an increasingly digital world, some backpackers use their travel as a way to disconnect from technology and the demands of a digitally connected life. They appreciate the opportunity to be fully present in the moment and away from constant screens and notifications.

That being said, technology can be a great tool for backpackers when it comes to keeping yourself entertained during downtimes and for staying socially connected to others which is important when traveling solo. Just remember to find that balance between online activities and in-person experiences for a well-rounded backpacking trip.

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 100+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.


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