There are numerous references to the term “Flashpacker” floating around the net and it’s high time we set a solid definition to this new way of travel. After all, how can you call yourself a flashpacker if you aren’t really sure what it means?
Simply put, a Flashpacker is someone who travels like a backpacker but with a bigger budget. That’s it. We aren’t talking wall-street bonuses here, but flashpackers have enough to sleep well, eat out and spend some money on experiences backpackers skip.
Flashpackers are usually in their 20s and 30s, seeking adventure and new experiences, and have a bigger travel budget, usually from an established career. How they choose to spend their money varies slightly, but one thing is for certain – they maintain the backpacker’s travel mentality.
Backpacker vs Flashpacker
Backpackers are independent travelers. Opting for low cost destinations and lodging in order to prolong their travel, these travelers prefer to experience a destination rather than see it. Flashpackers travel with the same approach, only now they have more money to spend.
Just like a backpacker, Flashpackers:
- still prefer hostels to traditional hotels. Just because we travel with more money doesn’t mean we’re willing to spend it on a room we won’t be using much. More importantly, a hostel is more conducive to meeting like-minded travelers and getting information on the types of local experiences we crave.
- are still more likely to use public transportation rather than rent a car. This gives us another opportunity to meet and interact with local people and is usually less hassle than going the other route. Besides, authentic local travel options are part of the overall experience.
- prefer long-term travel as opposed to a one-week vacation. A short trip simply isn’t enough time to really dig in and get to know a place and its people. This long-term thinking also reduces the single biggest travel expense – transportation to/from the destination.
- pursue adventure and new experiences. As far as experiences go, we are just as interested, if not more interested, in the local market or ramen shop as we are getting to the landmarks and popular site-seeing spots. Time and time again, I’ve found my memories are of the people I have met and the things I’ve done during my travels, as opposed to the landmarks I’ve seen.
In addition to traditional backpacker gear, we’re also likely to be carrying a number of gadgets with us. Laptops and digital cameras are high on the list, and you can also bet we might have an Ipod and cell-phone as well.
More and more people are carrying laptops or netbooks with them on the road, and the hostels are taking notice. Today, many hostels provide their guests with more than just a couple computers in the common room. They’ll often have WIFI and LAN cables as well.
Travel photography is also important to us. Instead of spending money on trinkets to take home, we’ll put money into a good camera and use it frequently on the trip because we know the memories are far more important.
An ipod is more useful now on the road than you might expect. Audio books or podcasts about our destination improve our experience there and music from back home helps reduce our level of homesickness or culture shock. If you’re lucky enough to have a smart phone, things get even better with the number of great travel apps out there. Don’t even get me started on the benefits of Google maps.
The evolution of backpacker into flashpacker isn’t going away. Flashpacking is here to stay, there’s no doubt about it. What do we want going forward?
We want all the pluses of the hostel experience. This means security for our gear and small, even solo, rooms while maintaining the valuable social experiences that take place. Needless to say, we would also like the costs to stay low.
We shy away from organized travel. We want a local guide, not a tour group. We want adventure and unique encounters, and we are willing pay for them.
Give us a trip to remember.