We’ve all heard of backpacking, backpackers, the extended version of backpack-something culture. These are the ones who tough out their travel with a gigantic backpack, doesn’t mind sharing a room with twelve difference other people, and likes to travel many non-mainstream destinations tour group shy away from. They are brave, travel nomads who sold everything to hit the road, and would sacrifice living quality to see as many sights as possible. It sounds like a challenging way of travel, a dream for the office desk workers, an unreachable dream for those not mind or physically strong.
However, the common definition and culture of backpackers are changing as we move into the digital era of mobile devices. Having an iPhone no longer means you’re the rich kid and carrying a laptop around to enhance the traveling experiences and to share the news has triggered the community to invent a new word: flashpacking. It’s definitely not a new culture or a new group of people who suddenly start traveling. These people have been out of the scene as they fit between the so called regular traveler and the backpackers.
What Exactly is Flashpacking?
So, let’s take the urban dictionary and see what flashpackers really means in the unofficial dictionary. A flashpacker is a “geeky backpacker - youngsters which always carry around a backpack stuffed with 'indispensable' gadgetry: laptop, pda, gps etc”, or more so described as “a backpacker with better budget - independent travelers with money to spend.” (urbandictionary.com) What does this say? They are backpackers who love the independence and flexibility as much as everyone else does, but wouldn’t mind and is able to afford a little luxury somewhere along the trip to make the entire experiences more smooth and comfortable.
The reason that these travelers weren’t branded in the backpacker group was due to the social stigma and advertising needs that backpackers needs to look messy, poor but with a happy sunshine smile. But they’ve always been there, traveling along the side of what we called “true backpackers” and sharing the same astonishing experiences that their travel companions share. Except perhaps when it comes to the flight going home, they’d pay an extra hundred bucks to get home earlier instead of suffering another 20 hours at the airports trying to get home.
Who Are These Flashpackers? Do I Know Them?
Many of the known backpackers we known on the internet world could actually be categorized as flashpackers because of the way they travel and how they operate their social platform, photo editing and mobile devices become the essentials of traveling. It’s not to say that people who spend more money are considered flashpackers and should not have the glorious title of a backpacker. Traveling should be a self-enriching activity and shouldn’t be stigmatized with labels of business.
But in reality, majority of the travelers are normal working people similar to your neighbors. They have a somewhat full time job, a stable place to live, and like to buy things during the discount season. However, when you’re worrying about planting a new tree or doing a backyard barbeque, they might be packing up for a road trip or already asking you to water their plants while they’re gone. These flashpackers might actually be the most common travelers instead of the famous travel nomads or volunteers we see. Flashpackers work as hard as we do in the regular track of life, but they also work hard in grabbing every spare moment to experience the world that we all dreamed of exploring. At the end of the day, backpackers and flashpackers alike are all travelers take make the world better.