There are so many new terms popping up these days to classify us travellers. From Eco-tourists to Alternative travellers, Adventure tourists to Cultural tourists, the list is endless. However a particular new term has caught my eye, the Flash Backpacker or Flashpacker! I first overheard this term whilst sitting in a restaurant in Vietnam as some hoity “Traveller” was ridiculing “Flashpackers” for not being real backpackers – you know that whole argument about tourist versus traveller. Personally I’d argue that today’s backpacker represents nothing of the true backpacking spirit pioneered in the 60’s and why should we continue to compare ourselves with the past, when we have the opportunity to create new, exciting and sustainable ways of travel. Anyway I digress. So I always thought a Flashpacker was a derogative term doing its rounds, however on a recent trip to Monkey Mia I found a neat little brochure advertising “Flash Backpacking Budget Accommodation”. So it got me thinking, what is a Flashpacker and how do they differ from the backpacking genre? So I decided to consult my sources to fine the answers.
So here is a general overview of whether you’re considered a Flashpacker or not:
- You’re between your late 20’s to late 30’s.
- You choose a backpack over a suitcase.
- You carry a collection of gadgets including laptops, SLR cameras, iPods, mobile phones and flash drives with you when you’re travelling.
- Your time is limited when you’re travelling however you still try to see everything.
- You have the latest snazzy travel gear ranging from the best backpack money can buy, comfortable designer boots, and jackets that would get you across the Antarctica.
- You generally have a history of backpacking when you’re younger.
- You’re not afraid to check into a 4 or 5 star hotel with your backpack on – in fact you prefer it.
- You have a well funded trip and enjoy champagne tastes.
- Your need to stay connected is imperative – social networks, emails and the internet are a must when travelling
- You’d rather spend your money hiking through ethnic villages to a rumored elephant eco-retreat that provides an opportunity for you to get involved in a bit of volunteering rather than drinking yourself into a stupor whilst tubing down a river.
Well one thing is clear out of all of this, I can see why “backpackers” dislike “flashpackers”. Flashpackers have all the money to do everything that backpacker’s wish that they could do, however the backpackers has more time to enjoy all the activities that the Flashpacker wishes they could do. I think the defining aspect of this is age, at the age of 30+ your mind is in a different place and so is your career, so of course your ability to travel is going to be in a different place as well. When you’re young and free you have no cares in the world but limited by financial constraints, however as you get older your perceptions and your income changes. I would question the need to be connected as a Flashpacker though, isn’t the reason we travel to escape the pressures and normality of home? Why do we feel compelled to want to connect back to it?
My travelling experiences have included both these forms of travel and can see the pros and cons of each – my mum particularly likes it when I decide to take a phone with me for example and I’ve had some great experiences sharing my iPod music with the locals. However to me I don’t care about the words use to describe me or if I have or don’t have all the gadgets under the sun, the lure of the open road is all that matters to me and at the end of day as long as all travellers are being responsible in how they travel, it doesn’t really matter what they’re called as long they enjoy the experience.