Traditionally a low-cost, independent style of travel, backpacking is a popular choice for many young people who have just finished school or university and want to see the world.

Backpackers normally rely on hostels with shared-dorm style accommodation, organised travel tour providers and public transport to get around. 

However, with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and increased social distancing measures, this style of travel will be required to adapt in order to survive. 

Once travel restrictions are lifted it is likely that many popular backpacking destinations will see a surge in visitors eager to embark on their travels. 

Popular destinations such as Australia, New Zealand and Thailand will be keen to see the return of backpackers as tourism makes up a large portion of their economy.

Many people will be eager to set off on their travels once restrictions are lifted

In Queenstown, New Zealand, more than half of the 28,000 population are employed in the tourism sector. A lack of travel has placed an enormous economic burden on tourism towns and many risk losing jobs. 

As social distancing measures are likely to be kept in place until a vaccine or treatment for coronavirus has been found, backpackers and travellers will have to adapt to the new normal of travelling. 


Hostels are often the accommodation of choice for young travellers as they offer a cheaper alternative to hotels.  These hostels offer dorm-style accommodation with often up to twelve people sharing a single room. 

Many travellers may feel uncomfortable with shared accommodation style post-coronavirus and instead look to alternative styles of accommodation.

Campsites and camper vans could be the accommodation of choice with backpackers in an attempt to remain socially distanced. 


Many travellers rely on public transport such as Greyhound buses to move easily and cheaply around countries. 

Greyhound Australia have been operating on a limited travel schedule since the lockdown measures began.

Backpackers may rethink how they travel around

As more travel routes begin to operate the company have assured travellers they have enhanced pre and post-service cleaning, as well as providing hand sanitiser stations on all services.

However, many travellers may still be wary about how successfully they can remain socially distanced while on public transport. 

Many backpackers may opt for renting a vehicle and moving around solo in a bid to avoid crowded public transport. 

Tour Operators

Many young solo travellers opt to travel with a tour group who provide guided tours and organised itineraries. 

Many travel groups were forced to suspend operating throughout the pandemic to abide by government lockdown restrictions.

As people begin traveling again tour operators will need to adapt their schedules and services in order to meet requirements on social distancing. 

One travel tour provider, Intro Travel, have assured customers on their website that they “are working with all operators to ensure that the relevant social distancing and hygiene standards are adhered to.

“Where necessary, this may include specific seat allocations, regular deep cleaning, the use of facial coverings and hand sanitisers.”

Leisure activities 

Many young people go backpacking to experience the best of the local areas, from nature treks, to leisure actives and partying.

With many countries likely to limit large gatherings for the foreseeable future these sectors are likely to be hit hardest. 

Nightclubs remain closed in many places, and due to the difficulty in remaining socially distanced in these spaces it is likely these will be one of the last to reopen.

Leisure activities for backpackers may need to change

As sport and recreation activities resume in stages in Australia, the government has stated that stringent health measures will need to be in place. 

One Australian surf camp that relies on a steady stream of young travellers, Mojosurf, are hoping to welcome visitors back after implementing a number of health and safety measures, such as disinfecting boards and surfaces , extra cleaning of shared spaces and the use of floor markers to help people remain socially distanced. 

In order to survive in a post-coronavirus world, destinations popular with backpackers will have to introduce a new normal centred on extra cleaning and social distance in order to adhere to government guidelines.