A new study published in the International Journal of Tourism Anthropology has found that international travellers backpacking in South America tend to be a little different.
The study, authored by Anne-Katrin Broocks of the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Hamburg, Germany, and Kevin Hannam of Edinburgh Napier University, UK, found that young independent travellers backpacking through South America tend to have more of an entrepreneurial streak.
In his 2004 book, The Global Nomad, anthropologist Peter Welk identified what he called the backpackers’ ‘code of honour’. Its five precepts were: to travel on a budget, to meet new and different people, to be free and open-minded, to travel in an independent and self-contained way, and to travel for as long as possible. The authors of this recent study have identified a sixth trait that especially applies to backpackers in South America: to pay for one’s travels along the way with artisanal entrepreneurship.
Backpackers travelling in South America are likelier to finance their travels by making jewellery and other souvenirs and selling them as they go. The study found that these backpackers “use different modes of transport and accommodation to other backpackers and they need to plan their days around their economic activities: crafting and selling their jewellery and other products.”
Artisanal backpacking has a number of benefits, the study finds. They include improved business skills, interpersonal and language skills, engagement with local cultures, and improved geography and general knowledge. These benefits translate into more than enhanced life skills: they can also prove useful when backpackers return home and re-enter the job market. The study’s authors conclude, “For the artisan backpacker the Western mainstream backpacking culture provides unique opportunities to participate in the globalised world and can also open up options for further education or other entrepreneurial activities.”