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It includes the use of a backpack that is easily carried for long distances or long periods of time; the use of public transport; inexpensive lodging such as youth hostels; often a longer duration of the trip when compared with conventional vacations; and often an interest in meeting locals as well as seeing sights.
However, the desire to stay connected, coupled with breakthroughs in lightweight electronics, has given rise to a trend that has been termed "flashpacking".
Backpackers have traditionally carried their possessions in 30 litre to 60 litre backpacks, but roller-wheeled suitcases and some less-traditional carrying methods have become more common, and there has been a trend towards keeping pack weights under the 7 kg carry-on limit of most airlines.
Another criticism is that even though one of the primary aims of backpacking is to seek the "authentic," the majority of backpackers spend most of their time interacting with other backpackers, and interactions with locals are of "secondary importance." Planning and research can be an important part of backpacking, aided by such guides from companies like Lonely Planet and Rough Guides, books by travel authors such as Rick Steves, and various digital and online resources such as Wikivoyage.
Resources provide information about such topics as the language, culture, food and history, provide listings of accommodation and places to eat, together with maps of key locations.