Stunning Scenes in Sunny SoCal – Santa Barbara, USA

Top Backpacking Destinations Ranking: 6.5/10

usa backpacking
There’s no doubting that America is an amazing place to visit. It has a wealth of attractions and the full range of climates and environments to suit nearly everyone’s needs. However, i always find myself coming back to the question of how suitable it is for a backpacker. The huge distances often make travel challenging and whenever i have visited i’ve found the need to rent a car in order to make the most of the small time i have there, an issue which wreaks havoc on a backpacking budget.

Having said this, Santa Barbara is a beautiful place for any traveller to visit. Everything is immaculate, fom the coordinated white buildings with terracotta roofing to the sun kissed people that characterise Southern California. It stands out from the majority of other towns in the US that i’ve visited in its feel as a proper ‘town’ in the English sense of the word. It has a town centre full of shops and small individual stores that you won’t find splattered across every postcode in the US. This compares to most other ‘towns’ which are really just huge grids of streets with the occasional mall or row of three shops on a corner. It can also be enjoyed on foot without the constant need to jump in the car and has plenty of spots to explore, whether its the stunning Mission or the views from the town hall. Add to this a huge, well kept beach and a mountain back drop and you’re starting to get a fairly attractive proposition.

But this all comes at a price and Santa Barbara is one of the more expensive stop offs along the coast of Southern California. I was fortunate enough to have a friend to stay with but it was clear that backpacker accomodation wasn’t cheap and this was echoed throughout the shops and eateries around town. If you’ve paid out to rent a car or for an expensive Greyhound then the last thing you need is to have the travel purse attacked further.

Backpacking in Santa Barbara - MissionI loved this place – it’s stunning all round, is full of things to keep you busy and if the rankings here were judged purely on the place and not the wider context then it would have a much higher score. Unfortunately, it’s the standard travel issues that affect everywhere in the US which hold it back. If your pockets are bulging and you want to sample one of America’s prettiest towns then Santa Barbara should be near the top of your list, but if the purse strings are starting to tighten then this one might be a step too far.

Look for other spots to go backpacking in the USA here.

Lares Trek to Machu Picchu, A Photo Diary – Machu Picchu, Peru

Top Backpacking Destinations Ranking: 9/10

Machu Picchu is one of the world’s must see icons. It’s like no other place on earth and needs to be seen to be believed. Hidden amongst the mountains of eastern Peru it stands tall and mighty, overlooking the rolling mountains for miles around. You can do various treks to get there, i was lucky enough to do the Lares Trek which included stops at some fantastic mountain villages along the way that were full of beautiful people. They say a picture tells a thousand words,so here’s a few of them to try and do this magical place some justice:

Backpacking in Peru - Machu Picchu

Llamas on the way to Machu Picchu

Lady with dog in Peru mountains

Llama in Machu Picchu

child in Machu Picchu

child in Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu Celebrations

Machu Picchu view from Waynapicchu

Inside Machu Picchu

Machi Picchu Classic View
Discover more fantastic destinations in South America here

Top Backpacking Destinations Top 5 – June 2010

These were the top 5 most read destination posts on Top Backpacking Destinations in June – check them out, you might have missed a beauty!

Brilliant Backpacking, But at What Cost? – London, England

Culture Shock That’s Worth It – Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Beautiful Backpacking off the Beaten Track – Kazbegi, Georgia

Mazy Marrakech, a Photo Diary – Marrakech, Morocco

Backpacking Quicksand – Antigua, Guatemala

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador – Backpacking Photo of the Week #11

The Galapagos Islands aren’t top of many backpacker’s lists, mainly for financial reasons. The main way of exploring them is on week long cruises that visit each island and give you access to all the incredible wildlife that roam there. But this isn’t cheap and will likely take up most of a backpackers 6 month budget.

There are, however, cheaper ways to visit. You can fly to the main island yourself and appreciate the wildlife based there (there’s plenty!) and take in some of the stunning, pristine beaches. This method doesn’t allow you to see everything in wildlife terms but is a worthwhile second for those desperate to visit and see the giant tortoises and some beautiful birds. And the beaches are a worthy support act…

ecuador backpacking
Discover more photos from the road in the Backpacking Photo of the Week series.