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We're all familiar with backpacking, whether we ourselves embarked on a journey or knew a friend or family member who did. Backpacking is a great way to experience authentic travel by really embracing the local culture of a destination.
Similar to backpacking but with more comfort and opportunities, flashpacking is becoming an increasingly more preferred way to travel.
What is Flashpacking
There’s no denying that backpacking is a great way to travel in order to really get inside a destination’s DNA and make your journeys go further since you’re usually sticking to a low budget. It’s often the only way to travel when we’re young and have very little in our bank account.
But what happens when you get older and find yourself with a bit more savings and maybe becoming a bit soft in terms of what you can endure. I think it’s safe to say we all would gladly accept more comfortable travel if we had the means to do so, and that is where flashpacking comes in.
Flashpacking basically describes a traveler who, much like a backpacker, is still budget savvy, but doesn’t mind splurging a little bit to enjoy more comfortable transportation and accommodation.
Simply put, a flashpacker is a backpacker with a bigger budget. They still enjoys off the beaten path experiences where they embrace independent travel over organized tours, but isn’t ashamed of enjoying a bit more comfort instead of always roughing it.
If you’re an experienced traveler who was once maybe a backpacker but now is older, maybe even with kids of your own, and is looking to enjoy less stressful and challenging travel, then maybe you should become a flashpacker.
Here are some of the top reasons why we should start embracing flashpacking.
Enjoy Comfortable Transportation
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While backpackers may be willing to suffer through a 12-hour bus ride as opposed to taking a short flight in order to save money, flashpackers will realize the importance of convenience and comfort and opt for the flight.
They will also opt for renting a car or hiring a taxi as opposed to hitchhiking or taking longer and often crowded public transport.
Flashpackers still enjoy saving money and regularly seek out cheaper bookings on flights, rental cars, and hotels. They don’t exactly want to throw away money but understand that long uncomfortable buses or trains can put you in a poor mood and leave you too drained to actually enjoy your travels.
Not always going for the cheapest transportation method can also be the smarter and safer way to go. Cheaper buses often break down, hitchhiking is dangerous for obvious reasons, and other cheap modes of transport can sometimes be unreliable.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Having to share dormitory-style accommodation with a number of other strangers can make falling asleep difficult. One reason for this is you might feel apprehensive about sharing a room with people you aren’t familiar or comfortable with.
Another reason is that you’ll often be stuck with at least one person that snores or talks in their sleep. You also don’t know what your roommates’ schedules are going to be, meaning you might have people returning at 2AM after a night of partying or leaving before the sun comes up to catch an early morning tour.
The gist is you can’t control others when staying in a shared hostel room. This means your sleep is much more likely to be affected.
By opting for a private hotel room, as most flashpackers will do, you not only enjoy privacy, but you also are usually rewarded with a more comfortable bed and linens. Private rooms also usually come with private en-suites making it easier to get ready in the morning and use the bathroom during the night if needed.
Backpacking and staying is hostels is no doubt a great way to be social and meet new people, but if you’re past that stage in your life and now travel with a partner and maybe even kids, you really begin to cherish your own private space and maybe even require it in the case of having kids.
There are many ways you can still connect with locals and other travelers despite choosing to stay in nicer private accommodation.
Enjoy Truly Amazing Experiences
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Many travelers say that backpacking is where all the adventure and excitement is. While this may be somewhat true, you can still enjoy diving into the local culture and experience off the beaten path adventures not found in the guidebooks as a flashpacker.
Just because backpacking may put you more in the shoes of local and the daily life they experience, doesn’t mean that all those authentic experiences are enjoyable. Ask a local of any destination and they’ll tell you there are certain things they would rather being doing or enjoying if they had the chance.
Flashpacking is about experiencing the truly rewarding sights and attractions of a destination and foregoing the not so enjoyable parts. This isn’t be unauthentic, rather it’s being smart enough to know what is and isn’t worth experiencing.
Having the savings and willingness to splurge more money on experiences, which flashpackers often do, allows them to experience truly epic things like a balloon ride over Cappadocia, a private safari jeep ride through the Serengeti, a flight over the Nazca lines, or cage diving with great white sharks off South Africa’s coastline.
Needing to or choosing to stick to a limited budget will in turn limit what you can experience. The flashpacking travel style opens up more potential opportunities while traveling.
Travel becomes all that more rewarding when you can actually enjoy more of what is on offer and not feel as though you missed out on a destination’s top experiences because of a lack of budget or unwillingness to fork over the cash.
Less Stressful Travel
Being adventurous and having the “go where the wind takes you” mentality is great so long as everything goes smoothly. The problem is, however, that not thoroughly planning or preparing your itinerary will eventually catch up with you at some point.
While backpackers tend to be more carefree about making bookings and organizing transport well in advance, flashpackers usually methodically plan out most aspects of their travel.
They like the assurance of knowing they will have somewhere to stay for the night or that they are assured a seat on a flight.
Flashpackers often travel with their laptops or phones so that they can check up flight times, book transport and accommodation, and research what they want to experience to make sure that everything goes smoothly and they craft the best trip possible.
Not knowing what to expect on your travels can be exciting but at the same time it can prove to be very stressful. Not having a solid plan in place or not knowing if you’ll have the budget to get you where you need or want to go can put you in a bad headspace over time.
Humans by nature like a bit of routine and feeling of security. Routine and preparedness can also end up saving a lot of time since you won’t be forced to do any last minute scrambling. This allows you to relax more and really enjoy the places you are visiting.
Encourages Healthier Travel
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It’s pretty safe to say that backpackers don’t always prioritize their health while traveling.
Yes they may get their necessary immunizations and purchase travel insurance that covers overseas medical, but they often don’t put much thought into what they are eating or how those day-long bus rides are doing to their physical and mental health.
Flashpackers, often being a bit older and wiser, tend to choose healthier meal options during their travels. They still seek out local specialties but may opt to have them at more upscale restaurants or establishments as opposed to dodgy street vendors.
Some travelers try to spread the misconception that only street vendors offer truly authentic local food. Yes it may be delicious, but it is often no more authentic than the more “overpriced” versions found in nicer places.
While you may pay more to enjoy a meal in a fancier restaurant, you have to remember that you also often get better service and assurances that what you’re eating is safe to eat. Street vendors aren’t always held to the same safe food-handling requirements as other establishments and this can put you more at risk for foodborne illnesses.
Flashpackers may also opt to book pricier accommodation with private kitchen facilities which allow them to not only cook their own healthy meals with ingredients sourced from local markets and grocery stores but also potentially save a lot of money in the process.
Staying in private accommodation and renting your own car also makes you less susceptible to getting sick from others on public transport or in shared accommodation where you are forced to spend considerable time with others in an enclosed space.
Lastly, flashpackers often enjoy better mental health while traveling in that they are more financially stable and know exactly what to expect on their travels.
Being stuck on a bumpy bus ride for hours upon hours or having to endure dodgy accommodation may save money, but it will start to wear on your mind after awhile.
Many backpackers who choose to rough it end up getting homesick rather quickly. Flashpackers on the other hand tend to create a home away from home while travelling so that they feel at ease as much as possible and aren’t as eager to return to the comforts of home since they are continually enjoying them while traveling.
A Great Compromise
Flashpacking is a great compromise when it comes to still experiencing authentic travel but not wanting to forego comfort.
Flashpacking isn’t about flying in First-Class or boarding lavish yachts, rather it’s being willing or able to spend a bit more to make your travels more enjoyable while still seeking out good deals so that you may travel longer or more frequently.
Try flashpacking for yourself and you’ll likely never go back to roughing it again.