A term used more and more these days is "Flashpacker". What is a flashpacker and are flashpackers really that different to backpackers? What are the differences and how can you define the term? Find out if you're classed as a flashpacker or a backpacker or are you some other kind of budget traveler?
Having searched online dictionaries to find out what the official definition of a flashpacker is I discovered that so far only wikipedia has one, and it's probably as good a definition as any.
"Flashpacking is a neologism used to refer to 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 traveling 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 travelers who adhere to a modest accommodation and meal budget, while spending freely, even excessively, for activities at their chosen destination."
I know that when I first set off on my worldwide adventure I thought I was going to be a backpacker. I soon discovered that most backpackers didn't see me as exactly the same sort of traveler as them. The term flashpacker wasn't really being used that much at the time and I was called a champagne backpacker, which is basically the same thing.
I'd set off on my travels at the ripe old age of 29 and not at 18 or 21 like most of the backpackers I met. This meant that I did have that little bit more disposable income. To be fair this mainly meant that I was lazier than most of the backpackers at the hostels I was staying at, because I very rarely used the hostels' kitchen instead choosing to eat out most nights to save myself from the hassle of cooking. Need some tips? Read this guide to eating healthy as a backpacker.
Having that little bit more disposable income did mean that I was able to do all the activities I wanted to and not have to choose one out of three like many of the backpackers I came across. I still stayed in backpackers hostels and slept in shared dorms to try and keep to some sort of budget and staying in hostels did mean that it was easy for me to meet people to socialise with and to travel with.
I'm glad to have waited until I'd earnt a bit of money before I went traveling because then when I had the opportunity to do once in a lifetime activities, I could do them and didn't feel like I was missing out. More and more people seem to be waiting until they're a little bit older before they experience the world, so flashpackers, or champagne backpackers, are now not so unusual.
This is what wikipedia says about backpackers.
"Backpacking is a term that has historically been used to denote a form of low-cost, independent international travel. Terms such as independent travel and/or budget travel are often used interchangeably with backpacking. The factors that traditionally differentiate backpacking from other forms of tourism include but are not limited to the following: use of public transport as a means of travel, preference of youth hostels to traditional hotels, length of the trip vs. conventional vacations, use of a backpack, an interest in meeting the locals as well as seeing the sights."
It now seems like "backpackers" are in the minority and I say that because even the term flashpacker seems to have evolved recently. I now see flashpackers as those travelers who can't even travel without their laptop, i-pod and various other bits of high-tech equipment. When I first went traveling very few people even traveled with a hairdryer so seeing all this electrical equipment being carried around still feels a bit odd to me. Also, there no longer seem to be much concern around the Suitcase Vs Backpack debate, with many "backpackers" opting for the convenience of a suitcase. I often ask myself - what will backpacking be like in ten years time?
So the main difference between a backpacker and a flashpacker seems to be the amount of money they're able to spend on activities whilst both still maintain a fairly strict budget on accommodation and food.
What type of traveler are you? Flashpacker, backpacker or something entirely different? Let us know by leaving a comment below.