Travel influencer reveals best destinations for beginner backpackers

I’m a travel influencer who’s visited over 159 countries – here are the best destinations for beginner backpackers (and why they should steer clear of Hawaii and Australia)

  • Tom Grond quit his government job 11 years ago – he’s been travelling ever since
  • Here he reveals ‘cheap’ and ‘affordable’ spots for newbie travellers
  • READ MORE: Etiquette expert’s tips on tackling awkward restaurant moments

A full-time traveller who hopes to visit every country in the world has revealed the best destinations for first-time backpackers to explore. 

Seasoned backpacker Tom Grond quit his nine-to-five government job 11 years ago and has been travelling ever since. 

The 39-year-old from Holland has now visited over 159 countries, documenting his adventures on his blog TravelTomTom and across various social media platforms. 

His nomad lifestyle has attracted quite the following, inspiring people to embark on their own journeys and visit untouched corners of the globe. 

Speaking to MailOnline Travel, Tom shared some ‘cheap’ and ‘affordable’ spots for beginner travellers to visit – and revealed which places to avoid. 

Seasoned traveller Tom Grond (pictured) has shared his recommendations for where beginner travellers should explore. Here the 39-year-old is pictured in Bali, Indonesia

The Holland-born traveller said he always tells first-time travellers to visit Southeast Asia – explaining that the region is ‘catered for tourism, young people and backpackers’. Above Tom is pictured exploring Bali on a motorbike 

Tom said: ‘When it comes to the first steps into the big travel world, I always recommend Southeast Asia.’

The traveller explained that the region, which comprises 11 countries, including popular destinations such as Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, is ‘catered for tourism, young people and backpackers’. 

He said: ‘Travelling in Southeast Asia is simply uncomplicated. You don’t need to be a seasoned traveller.’ 

One primary reason why it is so easy to travel, Tom said, is because ‘it’s so cheap’. 

He claimed that anyone can afford to travel to Southeast Asia if they save up a ‘little money’, which makes it an ideal first-time destination. 

‘Safety is another reason why it is such a popular and sought-after destination,’ Tom added, explaining that there are hundreds of thousands of other backpackers all exploring the same region. 

Tom said anyone can afford to enjoy Southeast Asia if they ‘save up a little money’ – claiming that the region is ‘so cheap’. He’s pictured here at Oniria resort in Bali

Praising the simplicity of the region, Tom said: ‘The weather is good, and you don’t need to carry a lot of clothes.’ 

He said travellers can enjoy the ‘island life’ and bring the bare minimum with them.  

‘Save some money and then go to the countries that are affordable and avoid countries that are expensive,’ he said, adding that Nepal and Pakistan are some of his personal favourite destinations to visit. 

He said that both countries boast ‘beautiful scenery’ and ‘super hospitable people’ that are always ‘friendly and open to strangers’. 

While luxurious destinations may seem tempting to explore as a beginner traveller, Tom explained that they are often too expensive to enjoy. 

Tom said Nepal and Pakistan are some of his personal favourites. He is pictured above in Pakistan at Badshahi Mosque in Lahore

Tom told first-time backpackers to avoid countries such as Hawaii (pictured) and Australia – claiming that they are ‘too expensive’ to enjoy

Comparing Australia to Southeast Asia, he said: ‘Australia is way too expensive and there’s actually not so much to see or do.’

In addition, he described Hawaii as another expensive and overrated destination to visit as a beginner backpacker. 

Recounting his own experience of visiting the U.S state, he said: ‘I went to Hawaii, and I thought “wow, this is amazing”, but after five days I thought there’s no point me staying here as I don’t have enough money to enjoy it.’

He added that beginner travellers should also steer clear of the Middle East as ‘it’s more complicated and often really expensive’. 

While he said Middle Eastern countries such as Turkey, Syria or Iran are ‘really cool destinations to visit’, he explained: ‘You need to be a more seasoned traveller. There’s more of a culture shock. 

Tom warned first-time travellers away from Middle Eastern countries, which he said are more ‘complicated’ to navigate. He is pictured left at Krak des Chevaliers, a medieval castle in Syria, and on the right in Turkey 

‘You can’t do what you want, you have to live up to the regulations, and as a first-time traveller it’s a bit more complicated.’ 

He said: ‘All the other continents are a bit more complicated, and that’s why I always send everyone on their first trip to Southeast Asia.’ 

Further advocating his case, Tom said Southeast Asia has ‘beautiful landscapes and mountains that you wouldn’t see anywhere else’.

He added: ‘The culture is super captivating, and the people are very welcoming.’ 

For more from Tom visit his blog at

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