A blogger's viewpoint:
Yeah, there is definetly a gap between the theory and the practice of backpacking. If backpackers have a Idealistic notion of backpacking and that experience is unobtainable will traveling lose popularity? All travelers seek a refuge from there foriegn surroundings, security,familieraty,commraderie. This is where the Hostel comes into play, it is a market necissity, I can not see budget hotels filling this need. I think hostels&Internet cafe`s allow the Backpacker to maintain a sense of control over their travels. Have you read the book "Global Nomad" ?