What is Flashpacking?

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It’s kind of like backpacking.

Over the years there has been a growing trend of ‘flashpackers’. In fact, there are probably lots of travellers who call themselves backpackers but actually fit right into the flashpacker profile.

I did a little research on the interweb in an effort to define the term ‘flashpacking’ and came to the conclusion that it’s very subjective. Some define a flashpacker as ‘a backpacker with means‘ or ‘a backpacker on a bigger budget‘.

Other sites say that flashpackers are the new breed of tourist – an independent traveller with style. Or some even make reference to the ‘techno-traveller’.

Female Photographing Temples

Wikipedia defines flashpacking as;

a combination of flash, as in fancy, with backpacking, used to refer to an affluent backpacker.

I used to be a backpacker when I was a twenty-something.  

And whilst I had an absolute blast, I’m too old for that stuff now! These days, if I try to schedule a full week of activities and tours everyday I’ll burn out by the 3rd or 4th day. I can’t sleep on a lumpy mattress without needing to visit to the Chiropractor several times. And I can no longer party until 3am, drinking copious amounts of alcohol without enduring a terrible three day hangover afterwards.

Now that I am thirty-something I value life’s little luxuries more. I still share the same passion for travel and adventure that a backpacker does, but I like to travel independently with upmarket accommodations, a little more style, comfort and at a slower pace. I want more options and more flexibility. And I value quality over quantity.

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The good news for most thirty-something travellers like me is; with age comes an established career and a little more savings, making life’s little luxuries more affordable. A flashpacker is generally willing to spend a little more money on travel than the traditional backpacker.

Being a flashpacker is not about splurging (well, maybe sometimes). Flashpackers still travel on a budget (as I do). But are generally selective about what to spend money on, rather than always going for the cheapest option… It all depends on what each individual flashpacker values!

So how do I Flashpack?

I value comfortable accommodations, a good nights rest and great food.

I travel with a lot of technology – my laptop, kindle, GoPro, DSLR camera, iPhone – I have an app collection on my iPhone that can just about carry the kitchen sink for me. I do a LOT of research on a destination but generally keep an unfixed itinerary allowing me to change my mind whenever it suits.

I’d rather explore a city on my own two feet (or a bike), than pay for expensive city tours. I don’t drink much anymore so I don’t spend much money on alcohol – the unfortunate side-effect of age is the limited ability to bounce back after a big night out.

I do stay in hostels from time to time, but I don’t normally stay in the cheapest hostel in town just to save a buck. I do prefer to pay a little more for a ‘luxury’ hostel – a clean and stylish hostel in a central area with good amenities (wifi is essential). If I feel like a little more privacy then I’ll check myself into a hotel for a night or two, though generally a small boutique hotel rather than a large luxurious chain.

Right now I’m also loving apartment rentals, like Wimdu and Airbnb; you can get some really decent apartments at bargain prices.

I still carry a backpack… but it also has wheels.

I’d rather take a four hour flight (in business class; points upgrade of course), than a rickety 24-hour bus-ride through the night. I go for a balance between restaurant meals and a $2 street stall meal – as an independent traveller I know that sometimes the street stall meals are just as good, if not better.

And when I’m in Bali, I have at least one massage a day (at $5 a pop who wouldn’t)!

I think the best benefit of flashpacking is having choices and not having to pinch every penny.

One thing is for sure; flashpacking is certainly a growing trend! Even the most hardcore backpacker can often find themselves craving a piece of the flashpacker lifestyle.

All opinions are, as always, my own.

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