I’m Such a Flashpacker…

The hot sticky air of Bangkok only added to my frustration as I searched my belongings for the illusive memory card reader. I still haven’t found it… But that was the day, after I ripped every electronic related item from my bag and dumped them on the floor I realised… I’m such a flashpacker.

Flashpacking, according to Wikipedia:

Flashpacking is a neologism used to refer to an affluent backpacker. Whereas backpacking is traditionally associated with budget travel and destinations that are relatively cheap, flashpacking has an association of more disposable income while travelling and has been defined simply as backpacking with a bigger budget.

A simple definition of the term Flashpacker can be thought of as backpacking with flash, or style. One school of thought defines the flashpacker as a rapidly growing segment of travellers who adhere to a modest accommodation and meal budget, while spending freely, even excessively, for activities at their chosen destination. Another school of thought defines flashpacking as an incongruous mix of ‘slumming it’ and luxury; of adventurous travel with those on a budget by day and sedate dining and comfortable accommodation by night. Flashpackers have been further defined as tech-savvy adventurers who often prefer to travel with a cell phone, digital camera, iPod and a laptop, although none of these is required in order to be a flashpacker. As with other forms of travel, the term flashpacker is mainly one of self-identification. The origin of the term itself is obscure.

The term also reflects a growing demographic of travellers who are forsaking traditional organized travel, venturing to destinations once the reserve of more adventurous backpackers, and the increasing number of individuals who leave well paid jobs or take ‘career breaks’, using the time to travel independently, but with greater comfort and many of the gadgets they are accustomed to at home. As a result, hostels are evolving and offering more up-market accommodation and facilities to those still travelling on a budget in order to obtain their business. Hostels have realized a need to evolve in order to meet the changing demands of travellers.

I don’t spend money on expensive hotels (I try to keep to $20 AUD per night max) and I often stay in a hostels for cheaper. But if I am staying for a longer period, I will look for WIFI.

I’ll happily eat on the street for $1-2, but I’ll spend $20-$40 drinking in a fancy bar.

I don’t mind local buses, but if I need to be somewhere in a hurry I will fly.

My Cable Collection

I personally think these traits are similar to many individuals that class themselves as “backpackers”. The main difference I see between me and them is the number of cables I carry and the emotional ties I have to them…

The whole mobility / digital nomad / location independence movement has spawned many flashpackers and these numbers are only growing with technology advances and as more start to earn a living on the road.

But there is the argument that if you’re carrying the proverbial baggage that is your precious electronics, it can restrict you from the ‘full experience’ of travel. To this point, I would have to agree. I take precautions because of my electronics and desire to work on the road which restrict me. I’m also waay to attached to my electronics – not healthy.

Final thought

I can’t say for sure what the best way to travel is, each to their own I guess.

But I ask you this:

Does one experience more, travelling while working for 12 months or working at home for 11 months and travelling for 1?