Unless you live in a cave, you can’t avoid the pervasive neologisms that overrun our society. Some are good, some are bad, and some are downright silly: Selfie? Twerking? Metrosexual? Hipster? In the travel world, it’s Flashpacking.
All right, somebody coined the term. Who that is nobody knows, and I doubt he or she is even aware that he/she coined the term.
So what is Flashpacking? You’d think it would be as easy plugging it into the Google search box and hitting the search button to answer the question…Trust me I tried. There’s not even a Wiki or Urban Dictionary entry of it anywhere (Dated: 9/02/2015).
I read a few blogs that delved into the subject, and there doesn’t seem to be a consensus on what Flashpacking is. Some say it’s a traveler who travels with a suitcase instead of a backpack and stays in luxurious places and not rough it a hostel or Couchsurf (shouldn’t this be in the Webster dictionary already?) Others say a Flashpacker is just a backpacker who travels with iPhone, Ipad, and other modern gadgets…a hipster who backpacks?
Wikipedia describes a Backpacker as Backpacking. n.d. In Wikipedia. Retrieved July 31, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backpacking_(travel)
Backpacking is low-cost, independent international travel. It includes a backpack easily carried for long distances or long periods of time; the use of public transport; inexpensive lodging such as youth hostels; often a longer duration of the trip when compared with conventional vacations; and often an interest in meeting locals and enjoying sights.
Backpacking may include wilderness adventures, local travel and travel to nearby counties while working from the country in which they are based.
A Flashpacker is your modern-day Backpacker who prefers to travel the world with modern conveniences and isn’t afraid to splurge in comfort when he or she can afford it. He or she straddles between the age of 25 and 40 years old and has probably already established a career and can afford to travel with a budget higher than somebody who just graduated from university.
That’s not to say he or she will have ensconced themselves in the luxury of five-star hotels. The flashpacker must also keep a budget well within limits while not sacrificing the travel experience.
For instance, instead of buying a 3-month rail pass he or she would spend the money on a long-term car lease which will probably turn out cheaper than the 3-month rail pass. Instead of sleeping in a shared dorm room, he or she would book a hotel with boyfriend/girlfriend.
The Flashpacker is the evolutionary step of the Backpacker. As you get older, your wants or needs change and your tastes and preferences. Technology has kept us more connected than ever, furthering the need for new electronic gadgets to improve information flow and technology. As the economy improves and gets better, disposable income rises and hence preference and affordability of luxury.
As described, I might fall into this category. Sure, I’ll have no problem sleeping on a dirt ground with nothing but a thin blanket to suppress the cold while battling at flu in Edirne (Turkey) because it was only $10 a night. I have no reservations taking a crap in an outhouse with nothing more than a hole in the ground because I grew up in a third world country and that’s all we had.
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I have no qualms about eating cheap street food because the locals eat it. But why not have a few upgrades and a little more luxury when I have the means not to?
Sometimes I get a better deal using Booking.com than I can at hostels. Sometimes I Couchsurf, not to save money but to connect with a local and gain a better experience than going at it alone.
Savvy hostels have taken notice and are now catering to this new breed of travelers. Gone are the days of the idea that staying at a hostel meant that you’d be in a bland building where you have to do a chore and share bathrooms with multiple strangers. Today, nearly all hostels have private rooms with en-suite bathrooms, and some even have bars and nightclubs.
Websites like https://hostelgeeks.com/ cater towards Flashpackers and offer visitors an insight to hostels meeting their criteria for a 5-star award. Is flashpacking here to stay or is it just a fad or a trend. It is a travel lifestyle that combines the budget and excitement in our youth with a little sprinkle of grown-up luxury.