An Introduction to Flashpacking

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An Introduction to Flashpacking

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Does this sound like you?

  • You travel on a budget, but also want the comforts you're accustomed to - and some you downright can't live without.
  • "Backpacking" conjures up visions of traveling with nothing but a backpack filled with clothes you hand wash and string up in your communal dormitory room. Not your style; but neither do you have the ability or willingness to pay for 5-star accommodation.
  • You're an intrepid traveler, preferring to explore on your own rather than choosing all-inclusive tours or trips.
  • And you like your gadgets: laptop, iPhone, nice camera, maybe even a GPS, e-Reader, or iPad. An Introduction to Flashpacking

You just might be a flashpacker.

Definition of Flashpacking

There are lots of definitions of flashpacking floating around. (This vagueness of meaning is attested to by the fact that my spellchecker doesn't recognize the word).

Some say flashpacking is simply backpacking with gadgets.

Others meld flashpacking with travel hacking (another new and somewhat vague travel term), suggesting flashpackers sniff out 5-star bargains while adhering to strict travel budgets.

Other definitions yet call flashpacking backpacking with a bigger budget, or spending more money on dining and activities rather than a nice place to sleep.

Regardless of specifics, if you dissect the word itself, you get the core gist: flashy + backpacking = flashpacking.

Being a Flashpacker

I realized I was probably a flashpacker when I analyzed some of my own travel criteria:

  • I like staying in hostels, but I often choose their private rooms.
  • I travel everywhere with my laptop and rarely stay anywhere without free WiFi (or close by; it is my career, after all).
  • The first thing I do on arrival is plug in an array of electronics for recharging.
  • I refuse to eat plain macaroni for dinner because it's cheap; instead I shop for quality ingredients to prepare healthy meals.
  • I like the finer things in life, and find creative ways to afford treats and amazing travel experiences.
  • And on the premise of sniffing out 5-star bargains on travel budgets, I usually fly long-haul in business class, for less than the price of an economy ticket (thanks to the creative accumulation of frequent flyer miles).

The Culture, the Stigma

At first, I cringed at the idea that I might be a flashpacker. It seemed bourgeois, elitist. But I can't deny being a little pickier about my travel choices, from amenities to activities to edibles. I also love finding deals that allow me to stay at a nice hotel instead of a hostel; and I can always "look the part" when I arrive.

Being a "backpacker" has its own image and set of stereotypes (often dated, yet still occasionally accurate) that I'm not interested in.

Nor do I want to be associated with the stigma of a "tourist", snapping pictures and falling prey to meaningless attractions designed to part them from their money.

But I also can't deny falling into both the "backpacker" and "tourist" categories from time to time.

Just Travel!

In the world of travel (as with everything in life), we try to pigeon-hole and categorize everybody so we can decide how to relate to them. The truth is, I'm a little bit of a flashpacker, as well as a backpacker, tourist, expat, and rogue wanderer.  

Does it really matter though?

How do you like to travel? Where to you like to go? And what do you want to see and do?

These are more important questions to ask, the answers of which will better define your unique style of travel than any stereotype will.

Related Posts:

10 Ways to Stay on Budget While Traveling

Cheap Accommodation With Style: Hostels Aren't Just for Backpackers Any More

House-Sitting: Feel Right at Home on Vacation and Save Big Money

Nora Dunn, CareOne Debt Relief Services Life Balance BloggerNora Dunn

Nora Dunn is The Professional Hobo: a full-time traveler and freelance writer. She is a contributing writer under the CareOne Debt Relief Services Life Balance blog. Having sold her business and belongings to travel, she has been on the road since 2007. She travels in a financially sustainable manner, taking advantage of creative volunteering positions. As a former certified Financial Planner, she is financially responsible for her actions along the way. She believes there is a fine balance between planning for tomorrow, and living for today. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services. You can follow Nora on Twitter @hobonora

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  • I love it, I am so a flashpacker too!! Great article Nora.

  • This is me too

  • Great Article Nora!  I have been following you for years now (originally on Wisebread) and love your blog/adventures.  You have convinced me to give hostels a chance.  I've paid a lot more for some "shady" hotels in the past.  I especially like the idea of meeting other travelers since I tend to travel solo about 75% of the time!

  • @Katherine & Zero - Did you know you were "flashpackers" prior to reading this article? Is this a new term for you? (Just curious)

    @Rebecca - I love hostels because it is way easier to meet people (and a wide variety of people at that) than it is at a hotel, which provides a very isolated and often sterile environment. With hostels I can prepare some of my own meals too, and there are generally comfortable common areas in which to relax as well as socialize. They're especially great for solo travelers!

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