What is Flashpacking? | Explained by Flashpacking Family

Given the name of our website (and Instagram, and Facebook accounts), and the fact that the term ‘flashpacking’ isn’t that widely used, we get asked a fair bit; ‘what is flashpacking?’

Flashpacking isn’t a term we made up but is a description of a way of travelling that’s been around for at least 15 years. The interesting thing is that there doesn’t seem to be one definitive description of what flashpacking is. There is lots of overlap in how various people describe and understand it, however.

So, for what it’s worth, our take on flashpacking is this: Put simply, flashpacking is a mix of backpacking and luxury travel, giving the independent vibe of backpacking and the budget to allow for some luxury splurges on your trip. There will be budget hotels or hostels involved (though probably not dorm rooms). There will also be boutique hotels or fancy Airbnbs thrown in too. And whilst there could be the odd 3rd class rail trip or 8-hour bus ride, there’s just as likely to be car hire, drivers or short flights to get from A to B.

Another school of thought entirely says that a flashpacker is a tech-loving backpacker, with a bag stuffed full of the latest hardware and gadgets – laptops, iPods, digital cameras, smartphones etc. Whilst there may be some truth that flashpackers use technology, aren’t smartphones standard backpacker issue these days?

Nor is flashpacking anything to do with the ongoing suitcase vs backpack debate, as these days many backpackers themselves don’t travel with a backpack, but prefer the convenience and practicality of a suitcase, shock, horror!

We like Paul Miles’ take on the term, who described flashpacking in the Guardian way back in 2004 as:

“An incongruous mix of slumming it and luxury; of adventurous travel with those on a budget by day and sedate dining and sleeping with the better off by night.”

Put in this light, we feel flashpacking describes our preferred style of travel very nicely. We think it can be a great style of travel for families with young children because let’s face it, travel can be tiring even without kids. So when you throw early starts, night wakings, toddler tantrums and being alert to accident-prone kids into the mix, sometimes you just need a little bit of downtime, some pampering, a comfy bed, (and possibly an all-inclusive/catered option from time to time) so you can switch off and relax.

We’re talking family friendly mid-to-high end accommodation with all the facilities you need. Maybe it’s taking a driver over a train. Maybe it’s taking a flight over an 18-hour bus ride. Maybe it’s taking a flashy backpack with wheels and packing cubes so you can separate out the inevitably sticky kids’ clothes from your own. Our style of travel won’t break the bank.

So what exactly is flashpacking? 1

Jacs and the boys in Sri Lanka, waiting for our train from Bentota to Galle

‘flashpacker’: informal a backpacker who has a considerable disposable income

‘flashpacking’: Backpacking but not on a budget, using First class travel and accommodation. A more ‘flash’ version of backpacking.
Urban Dictionary

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