There are as many ways to travel as there are travelers, and a lot of people discount backpacking as an uncomfortable and unattractive way to explore the world, maybe because it goes hand-in-hand with gritty hostels and shoestring budgets. However, the backpacking experience is much more than living cheaply: it’s about seeing the planet from a different platform, one that has a strong sense of community and a number of unique opportunities at the ready. If you’re wondering whether you could handle a month or two (or six) on the road with only your pack on your back, the short answer is “yes”. If you’re looking for specifics, consider these six excellent reasons to backpack across a new country, region or continent this year.

1. You’ll learn how to be thrifty (and happy)

So often, saving money is a chore, something you have to do to plan for the next move in life and get through your daily obligations. But when you’re backpacking on a tight budget, you have the excitement, newness, and perpetual holiday atmosphere to keep your spirits up and motivation strong. Sure, it would be nice to enjoy five-star dinners and world-renowned performances whenever you feel like it, but with so many potentially life-changing experiences just around the corner (if you can make the money last), a bread and cheese dinner and night in a hostel common space here and there isn’t too much of a compromise. Soon you may begin taking pride and fulfillment in living with less each day, and that’s an attitude that will help you in the long-run, too.thrifty