Is Flashpacking Killing The Art Of Backpacking?
Flashpackers are often simply affluent backpackers with larger disposable income. They choose to travel in more comfort than the average backpacker, often avoiding public transport and opting for hotels over hostels. Flashpackers are commonly quite tech-savvy and pack a variety of technological items including, mp3 players, mobile phones, laptops and digital cameras.
With even many backpacking hostels adapting towards the trend of flashpacking, is the real art of backpacking suffering?
Before planning your own trip, here are some points worth considering if you are thinking of flashpacking:
Hotels vs Hostel
If you’ve got the money it may seem like a great idea to stay in hotels whilst traveling. The main problem with staying in hotels is that it really is restricting when it comes to being social and meeting new people. Meeting other backpackers with a shared common interest in travel is one of the great benefits of backpacking.
It might sound ideal to take the posh bus with the air conditioning, comfy seats and plenty of leg room but by doing so you are really missing the point of backpacking. You are traveling in a bubble without attempting to understand or experience what the country is really like.
Lack Of Adventure
Traveling without taking local transport carrying laptops and expensive gadgets means that you can’t be as adventurous. Part of the backpacking experience is being able to have the freedom to do what you want when you like. Loading up of technology not only increases the chances of you being targeted by thieves but just makes your traveling experience much less flexible. You’ll spend time worrying about the safety and security of your gadgets rather than just letting go and having fun.
Flashpackers are often glued to their laptops and as a result tend to book a lot of things way in advance. This again reduces the flexibility to change your mind on a whim. Flashpackers will research and read up on locations and sights before arriving via their laptop and internet connection. This might sound ideal but lacks the sense of adventure and randomness that comes from not quite knowing where you’re going and what you’re doing. By researching and booking things online it takes out much the challenge of trying to cope with the unknown.
Flashpacking for me, seems like a style of traveling to simply “tick the box” and to be able to say “I’ve been there“, which completely missing the point of independent travel.
There often seems to be a fear of experiencing things as they should be in exchange for the comforts of home. In my opinion you do not get the most out of travel by surrounding yourself with what you are familiar with, after all isn’t part of the reason you are going traveling to experience (even if it’s just a glimpse) how people live their everyday lives around the world?
About the Author
Paul Dow is an English, optimistic, late sleeper, green tea drinker, writer, web developer, soccer fan and editor of TravMonkey.com, an online magazine for backpacking around the world. He is currently living in London after traveling solo for 22 months through Asia, Australia, New Zealand and South America.