Flashpacking is one of the latest buzzwords in travel and tourism, but what is flashpacking and what does it mean to be a flashpacker? Read on to find out…
What is flashpacking?
Flashpacking is a term that was coined by the website flashpack.com – but what is it? The sites describes it this way:
It denotes a lifestyle for travellers in their 30s and 40s, who actively seek out authentic encounters and have the budget to experience the best every destination has to offer.
Flashpackers travel in style and believe in roughing it in luxury. They actively seek out unique experiences and define luxury as something more than thread count or shower size. The easiest way to spot a Flashpacker is to look for the backpacker with the new laptop and the dirty hiking boots.
Flashpacking is a total immersion travel experience. It’s what happens to adventurous backpackers who no longer find the idea of sharing a hostel bunk bed appealing. It’s choosing the bottle of wine instead of having to share a flat keg with strangers, because you can afford it.
Essentially, it’s backpacking but not on a budget.
The difference between flashpacking and backpacking
There are many differences between flashpacking and backpacking, despite how similar-sounding they are. I have outlined these below…
The major difference between flashpacking and backpacking is, as mentioned above, the budget. Many people who go backpacking are travelling on some sort of budget. They may be digital nomads, working along the way to afford a roof over their head while on their travels. Or they might have scrimped and saved for years, budgeting carefully during their trip by choosing the cheapest hostels, cooking for themselves rather than eating out and opting for free experiences in these destinations. Flashpackers tend to be able to afford the luxuries that come alongside travel, and might even travel first class!
Flashpackers will opt for hotels or apartments, rather than those budget hostels mentioned in the previous point. Flashpack.com – the site who coined the term flashpacking – offer fully organised trips with ‘hand picked 3-4 star hotels’ as the accommodation of choice. This is obviously not attainable for traditional long-term backpackers, who will stay on the farm they’re working at (for example) or in a dormitory shared with 11 other people at a hostel on the outskirts of town. That isn’t to say one is better than the other, of course. These are two completely different types of travel, really, so the accommodation is bound to be worlds apart.
Length of trip
Flashpacking trips tend to be much shorter than traditional backpacking. A lot of the time, backpackers are away for months or even years at a time. They move between cities, countries and even continents over this time. Backpacking is a popular gap year activity. This means people do tend to have longer to spend away from home, and less responsibilities. Flashpacking, however, denotes a shorter trip. The ones that flashpack.com offers are from around 4 to 12 days long. This is definitely more of a holiday/vacation rather than what you would imagine ‘backpacking’ to be!
When it comes to people who go flashpacking, we’re looking at an age range of early thirties to late forties. This is because flashpackers tend to be more financially secure, but still want to enjoy adventure-type holidays rather than something like a beach holiday. Of course this isn’t set in stone, though! You may get flashpackers in their early twenties who come from a very privileged background and want to experience ‘backpacking’ without the strict budget – simply because they have the money to spend. And you may also get people in their 60s who aren’t interested in rest and relaxation, opting for something with a bit more oomph!
Why has flashpacking become popular?
Flashpacking is becoming popular because it is a more immersive type of travel. People are less keen to be tourists (although we still are when visiting somewhere new, no matter what we tell ourselves!) and more keen to be travellers. Flashpacking gives people the opportunity to experience a destination more deeply than you can by booking a week all-inclusive. It allows you to meet locals, get off the beaten path, and try something new. You’re able to take part in the local scene! Organised flashpacking trips give you access to opportunities you might not be able to have otherwise, and these tend to be included in the price you pay.
It may be less ‘authentic’ than backpacking is, but if you’re time-poor then it’s a great option to do something a bit different with your time off. You can flashback alone, of course, if you have the money to! Book two weeks off work and choose your destination, then pack a bag (or two) and book yourself into some nice accommodation. Travel between areas by first-class train, inter-city flight or even a taxi. Then, look into obscure things to do in each area! Atlas Obscura is a great way to find things that are less likely to appear in your standard guide book… Et voila, you’re flashpacking.
The benefits of flashpacking
There are many benefits to flashpacking. One is that you get to experience more than you would on a short city break or a classic two-weeks-on-the-beach-drinking-cocktails type of holiday. You get to explore more of a country, meet the locals, see what makes a place special. You’ll make memories that right now are inconceivable, simply because you don’t even know what you don’t even know about a destination! Flashpacking trips are full of new experiences, and you’ll come home with stories for every dinner party you’ll ever be invited to…
Another benefit is that it offers more comfort than backpacking. You won’t be staying in budget hostels, on a top bunk with a paper-thin mattress and listening to the snoring, sniffing and sneezing of a bunch of other people. You’ll have clean clothes every day, instead of re-wearing the same t-shirt for 4 days in a row because there’s no washing machine where you’re staying and you’ve only packed two for the whole year. You don’t have to give up the luxury touches. Travel first class, eat at the Michelin starred restaurants, spend money as frivolously as you like!
Popular flashpacking destinations
You can really go flashpacking anywhere. Take a look at the favourite backpacker routes, and adjust them to fit your higher-class expectations. There are a few flashpacker favourites, though, which you can see below…
Probably the most famous place in Indonesia, Bali is a firm favourite of backpackers and flashpackers alike. UNESCO-listed rice terraces, bright blue ocean, white silky sand and food that will make your tastebuds dance – put Bali on the list! There is so much to do, and flashpack.com offers a 12-day itinerary for £2420+ excluding flights. You’ll dine with a local family, visit temples, do yoga, head to the tiny island of Gilli Air and so much more!
Another favourite among flashpackers, South Africa has so much to see and do. There is also no shortage of luxury accommodation and fine dining, meaning a trip that encompasses a few different parts of the country is an ideal flashpacking holiday! From Cape Town to Stellenbosch, from bunny chow to Cape Malay curry, from abseiling to swimming with penguins… is it any wonder flashpackers flock to South Africa?
Want to go flashpacking in Europe? Croatia is a great option. It has lovely weather, a rich history, stunning scenery and so much more! Cycle through the Dalmatian countryside, go kayaking, sunbathe, admire the Roman ruins. Again, Croatia is somewhere you’ll definitely find comfortable accommodation and brilliant places to eat (try some cevapi, their delicious grilled sausages) so you can flashpack in style here for sure! Flashpack.com has an 8-day itinerary for Croatia. This encompasses 7 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 2 dinners; you’ll stay solely in 4-star hotels, and all transport is included. The trip is only for people in their 30s and 40s, however!
One of the most biodiverse countries out there, Costa Rica is simply breathtaking. You won’t find beauty like this in many places. It is largely untouched, and full of lush greenery. Relax in hot springs, build up a sweat as you hike through cloud forests, and experience the thrill of climbing a volcano! There are some beautiful 3 and 4 star hotels here, and you’ll be able to travel in style too if flashpacking in Costa Rica is something you’re interested in. From Talamanca to Palo Verde, you’ll fall in love with this stunning country. Flashpacking here is an experience you won’t want to miss out on if it’s viable for you.
Turkey is a country of many hidden wonders! From the mysterious sights of Istanbul to to the stunning vistas at Pumakale, the many gorgeous beaches and sunrise in Cappadocia, Turkey is a flashpacker’s dream! And with companies like eVisa Turkey you can get assistance with the paperwork required for entering the country too, such as the passenger locator form Turkey.
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