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Flashpacking, the Stylish Side of Backpacking
Roughing It in Style

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If you're a backpacker, you've probably heard of flashpacking - and may have wondered whether you were a flashpacker.

Gucci backpackMore suitable for a flashpacker

What exactly is a flashpacker, anyway?

According to Wikipedia, it's a backpacker with flash. To others, it's someone who backpacks with more money or less time than a traditional backpacker, whether you're traveling through Europe or roughing it in the rural savannah.

You're probably a flashpacker if...

  • your first question when you check in is "Do you have WIFI?"
  • your second question is "How many power points/plugs do you have in the room?"
  • you're carrying the following electronic devices and their chargers: Macbook Air, sat phone, noise-cancelling headphones...
  • your gear has recognizable brand names - but this isn't hard and fast, since the poorest of backpackers can appreciate and often buy the finest gear
  • you're asking for directions to the airport rather than the bus terminal when it's time to travel
  • your room has its own bathroom
  • your backpack has wheels, or you don't even have a backpack - you have a suitcase!

There isn't a flashpacking prototype but there are trends.

Flashpackers tend to be a bit older than backpackers, although it's hard to generalize - there are plenty of 80-year-old backpackers, and 20-year-old flashpackers.

They probably have more money (though they're not necessarily rich), and they may have less time, having perhaps taken a limited leave of absence from a job to travel.

And they may require a bit more comfort - why take an overnight bus trip when you can fly?

There are major similarities as well. Flashpackers aren't necessarily in more of a hurry - they tend to travel for just as long as backpackers.

Many flashpackers also stay in hostels (even if they do prefer their own bathroom). And they are an independent lot, not tour rats or tourists.

Like backpackers, their trips tend to be less planned, more spontaneous and often solo. Flashpackers also share travel destinations with backpackers and travel to places like Bali or Bangkok, Brasilia or Buenos Aires.

Where the 'flash' comes in is in the special knowledge and comfort level the flashpacker might have. After all, if you're plugged into your laptop and iPhone, you may be plugged into the best deals and the most offbeat or secluded spots. And you won't have to stand in line for the shower!

Rustic lodge in Southern MoroccoStaying at rustic lodges in southern Morocco - more flashpacking than backpacking.

The line between flashpacker and backpacker isn't always clear

Backpackers may cross over into flashpacking, and vice versa.

I backpacked across Africa but one Sunday a month I'd splurge on a luxury hotel and brunch. I also carried state-of-the-art electronic gear - as a journalist it was a necessity.

Labels don't matter and no one cares which you are. Now, at least, if someone calls you a flashpacker, you'll know what they're talking about. So... are you a flashpacker?

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