Saturday, 2 August 2008

Is Backpacking Out and Flashpacking In?

Do you like the idea of adventure and freedom in backpacking but prefer security, style, and luxury?

Are you in your thirties or forties and have more than enough money to spend while travelling? 
And you really can't be without your favourite iPad or similar device.

If you answered 'yes' to both questions, you are something other than a backpacker.

How Do You Know You Are a Flashpacker?

Here's a simple flashpacker test:
  • Would you rather spend a few hundred dollars on flights rather than emerge half-dead from 18-hour bus trips?

If you answered yes, then you are a Flashpacker!

Most people don’t have a clue what flashpacker means. The term flashpacker comes from the same roots as backpacker – flash (ostentatious) + (back) packer. Flashpackers can be called business class backpackers but there are some big differences.

Since the sixties, backpackers have been travelling light and living frugally. 
  • Backpackers don’t carry iPods, PDAs, laptops or expensive digital equipment. 
  • Backpackers like to travel with no fixed schedules on long trips, and be independent while travelling. 
  • Backpacking evolved out of the hippie movement in the West. 
  • People in many traditional non-Western countries often regarded backpackers to be more interested in chilling-out, using recreational drugs and exhibiting looser sexual morals than actually learning about the places and cultures they were in.

Would you spot a flashpacker on an 18-hour bus ride to save fifty dollars? No, ‘it is too backpacker’ they would say and fly. For a flashpacker, style is more important.

Instead of ‘slumming it out’ in budget accommodation, flashpackers spend nights in comfortable hotel rooms and dine in upscale restaurants. Flashpackers always choose to remain connected with their friends or contacts through digital devices they carry with them. 

One of the main criticism against backpacking is that though they seek the 'authentic' experience, in reality they hang around in places frequented by other backpackers and are in contact with them rather than even talk to locals. 

Many people criticize that hardcore flashpackers just play with their electronic gadgets (iPhones, iPads and iPods etc.) in different parts of the world, and have no time, energy, or inclination to actually make contact with anyone outside their digital communities. 
Critics are envious as they can’t afford what we can”, say the flashpackers and move on.
A synonym of flashpacking is poshpacking. 

Photo source:

More about flashpackers here.


Steven said...

Good point. I can't stand backpackers. They are always so dirty. I can identify with flashpackers though I wouldn't admit it.
One should alsways have style, even while travelling.

Flashpacker said...

But trust me, there will be more and more people familiar with the concept of Flashpacking. Hostels and hotels are actually beginning to cater for this new category (although you need a bit more than a name a free wi-fi).. For more see and

Tony A said...

Interesting article. I've been a backpacker since my teens (for about 20 odd years now). I've definitely learnt a lot.

If some people love to travel in a flashy manner, let them. Doesn't bother me.

Rana Sinha said...

Thanks Steven and Tony for your views and 'flashpacker' for your comments with links.