Today's backpacker might be heading for clean climates in the southern hemisphere, but this sensible advice makes me ill

Here's a depressing thought: backpackers don't like hot, crowded, dirty countries any more. These days they prefer cool, empty and clean ones.

I'm talking about the results of a reader survey published last week in the magazine Wanderlust, revealing the current tastes of independent travellers, who have, it appears, turned their backs on traditional backpacker hunting grounds like India, Nepal and Thailand. Instead, they have all transferred to New Zealand and Chile, because these are the places where you can find space and fresh air.

What a fickle thing is travel. After all, it was only a couple of months ago that we were hearing about the dissolute young backpackers who never bothered to explore the places they were travelling to, but instead spent all of their holiday time having group sex and smoking dodgy weeds in palm-frond huts on tropical beaches.

At least the huts sounded fun, though, which is more than can be said for these bleak, lonely places at the bottom of the world, menaced by glaciers and hurricane-force winds and populated by sheep rather than people.

One thing is certain: people are not going to places like New Zealand or Chile in order to live in palm-frond huts and play didgeridoos on bacchic moonlit nights by the beach. Well, not if they have got any sense, they aren't.

New Zealand's South Island, for starters, has one of the rainiest coastal fringes on earth. Nor do tropical fruits grow on the trees there (but glacial landslips are possible). As for Chile, well, I am not convinced that spliffs on the beach at any time of night or day are a good idea in a country where Augusto Pinochet still has immunity from the law.

But to today's independent travellers, it seems, these are irrelevancies anyway. This is because they are far too busy planning those healthy, happy, outdoor pursuits like sailing and horse riding and cycling and walking over vast, pristine, mountainous landscapes in the rain (and generally breasting the fresh, non-nuclear breezes of the southern hemisphere).

I can hear the bangles jangle now as dead old hippies turn restlessly in their smoke-filled dormitories in the sky. India? Nepal? Thailand? Spiritual nirvana? Cultural otherness? Roasting potentially toxic tropical fish over campfires while telling each other not to forget your chill pills? Sorry. Not if it means exposing yourself to unnecessary risk.

Inhaling incense fumes and drinking untreated water and sweating buckets and listening to beautiful Asiatic languages and tasting stenchy rotten bananas and sleeping with snakes and falling off the roofs of buses just aren't sensible things to do in this day and age.

Instead, get yourself off to the southern hemisphere as fast as possible. It's clean down there. There might not be a surfeit of cultural excitement or oriental wisdom, but the locals do at least speak familiar languages and the chances of Delhi belly, not to mention nuclear incineration, are significantly less.

No? Except that all this sensible advice is making me feel ill.

And the funny thing is that I suspect it will take a long and enlightening journey through the mystic east to enable me to recover.

Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Day In a Page

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

    The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
    Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

    Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

    France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
    Sports Quiz of the Year

    Sports Quiz of the Year

    So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

    From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

    Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect