Flashpacking: A New Way To See The World
You’ve hitch-hiked round South America, backpacked across the Rockies, and inter-railed around Europe. You’re planning a 3-month trip to Asia with no itinerary. You love the adventure of travel, but you’re fed up with sleeping rough on airport floors and sharing dorm rooms with drunken 18-year-olds. Sound like you? If so, you may well be a flashpacker.
A flashpacker is, basically, an upscale backpacker – someone who still uses public transport (or even his own feet) to get around, but doesn’t believe that traveling abroad means having to give up life’s little luxuries. Think private rooms, clean common areas, reliable internet access, plasma TVs, and restful sleep (the greatest luxury of all).
The chances are the flashpacker also comes prepared to document his trip with a fully-loaded iPod, laptop, digital camera, GPS device, and all the gadgets necessary to point them in the right direction, no matter where they are in the world. These digital devices take the place of guide books and unnecessary things like travel detergent that take up valuable room in backpacks. The flashpacker doesn’t need them anyway; he simply downloads city guides on his phone, and then checks in to a nice hotel which has a laundry service.
Yes, the flashpacker is probably older than your average beer-swilling college student, and, although they’ve not yet given up on the joys of wandering the world aimlessly, they have definitely given up on sleepless nights and hangovers. You’ll more likely find them wandering round art galleries and chic cafes than indulging in drinking competitions with strangers.
According to Travel & Leisure magazine, you’ll find the flashpacker at hotels like minimalist loft-style baxpax downtown in Berlin (pictured above and below); Loki Cusco in Peru, a colorful hostel located in a 450-year-old national monument (top and second from top); and Daddy Long Legs in Cape Town, a self-described ’boutique backpacker’ with 13 rooms individually decorated (third and fourth from top).
With each of these lodgings, the room is as important as the view, the decor as significant as the location. And yet they’re still budget-priced, so you can treat yourself to something better than cold baked beans for dinner.