Australian research shows backpackers learn a lot from their experience

by Ray Clancy on June 13, 2018

in Australia Travel

Australia is one of the top destinations for backpackers worldwide and now research from a university in the country reveals that taking time out to travel around is a very positive path to take.

Researchers from Edith Cowan University in Perth say that it builds confidence and improves money management, problem solving skills and communication.

Backpacker Blue Mountains National Park


The survey found that 91% of backpacker felt that their experience improved their ability to identify and solve problems while 89% said that their communication skills got better.

Some 88% said that they were able to successfully overcome many challenges while 80% felt that even when things were tough, they could perform quite well. Some 80% also indicated that backpacking had raised their confidence.

The research also found that 61% believed that their time management skills had increased after backpacking and 62% said that their money management skills were much better.

‘This research shows the benefits of getting away, gaining perspective and dealing independently with the challenges of travel,’ said Professor Sam Huang of ECU’s School of Business and Law.

‘We see a lot of evidence of young people being under stress, worrying about their future careers, house prices and finding their place in society, and, while it seems counter-intuitive, buying them a backpack and sending them into the world may be a way of supporting them,’ he pointed out.

‘It increases their sense of capability, which is essential psychologically, creating confidence in themselves, relationships and future careers,’ he explained, adding that backpacking also develops cultural understanding, which offers benefits in a globalised world.

But not everyone felt so positive. The research included a cohort of 250 Chinese backpackers, which revealed one striking difference from backpackers from Western nations. Whereas Westerners felt changes to how they viewed the world had impacted them positively, Chinese backpackers reported increased feelings of negativity.

‘Chinese people are instilled with the idealism of their purported socialist system, so changing such a view may pose a level of threat to their identity and worsen already existing social anxiety,’ Professor Huang said.

‘If a new updated view of the world is not firmly established, the change itself may prove disruptive and distressful. Backpacking can be a transformative experience, and to transform, you have to face a crisis and reassemble your identity, ideas and values,’ he added.

‘What we’re seeing in the data is likely the early part of the process, when self-evaluation is occurring but a new sense of self has not yet been created,’ he concluded.

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