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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Environment
Sudan, the last male northern white rhino
environmentThe death of a white northern rhino in Kenya has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
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

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Financial Controller

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

    Direct Marketing Executive - Offline - SW London

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London