These adventurers had more time than money and were consciously escaping the first world. The idea was to make a statement against modern life. Traveling to third world countries was their way of expressing disagreement with the hectic first world.
Nowadays, if you travel through Central America, you will find a different kind of backpacker. This adventure seeker needs to work harder now to find his escape. He will need to travel to even less accessible locations to avoid the vacation atmosphere found in popular destinations throughout Central American countries. Backpacking and adventure tourism has grown more fashionable over the last ten years. It is now most common to take a two or three-week holiday to an exotic place like Guatemala.
This new adventure tourist is much less adventurous as our explorers ten years ago. He is not interested in departing from daily first-world life. He is simply looking for a short break from it all. This adventurer does not have the time to really adjust to another lifestyle; he just wants a taste of it, a tiny bite. Not genuinely interested in getting to know a third-world lifestyle, he is not willing to live like the locals surrounding him on his travels. As if the world was one big museum, he wants to be there and watch from a short distance.
The consequence is that local hotels and restaurants need to adjust their services to this new demand, even if this means loosing their own culture. Although the current traveler claims to be interested in other cultures, he is really demanding it to change to his needs. A shift in backpacking culture is sadly leading to a shift in local third-world culture.