International backpacker routes

Last modified 20.03.2022 | Published 17.03.2015Travel

Est. reading time:

You are now going to study a map with all the major backpacker routes around the world, all major traveller hubs, and a series of secondary ones.

I came across this impressive map a while ago and with the accept of its creator, Giles Smith at,  I include it here along with my reflections.


The case is simple

I have never seen such an accurate illustration anywhere else, and it left me with the feeling of “this is it”.

Click on the map for a larger version, or right-click to open it in a new tab or window. Read more below.


Key Backpacking Travel Overland Routes

Key overland routes for backpackers and other travellers (Source: Click to expand the map


This map brings up fond memories

My first great overland trip was in East Asia 30 years ago ending up on the “Banana Pancake Trail“. I have returned a couple of times to see more of it. I admit having missed the pancake part, derived from the myth that this is what backpackers eat in the South East Asian countries. Nevertheless, this region is perhaps one of the earliest and even today one of the most popular places to go, and not only for backpackers.

Switching continents I did a couple of years later part of the “Gringo Trail” in South America, at least the route along the Andes from Ecuador to Chile. Starting in Rio we went north into the Amazon instead of south to Argentina.

Neither trails are actual trails, more like inaccurate geographical descriptions and ways of life. Another famous “trail” was by the way the “Hippie Trail“. It is not included in this map, possibly because it no longer exists. It went from Europe to India and even on to Bangkok, through countries like Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan. The latter two have for decades been really rough territory to travel in. I am too young to having tried that one, but I have taken the route to the north, the Trans-Siberian and also part of the Silk Road in between. Lonely Planet grew out of a journey along the Hippie Trail.


This map is also good for planning, and for getting inspiration

I am eagerly looking at the backpacker routes in Central America, Africa, India and Australia.


Further reading

The original backpacker routes map is on this link. Remember to look into, it is a treasure trove of useful information about countries and travelling: Very condensed, very accurate.

There is also a comment string on Reddit with lots of nonsense about this map.

You may want to have a look at my own World Map for another kind of map.