View Full Version : Evolution from Backpacking

Pedaling Fool
06-21-2012, 14:29
I've seen threads before attempt to distinguish hiking, walking and backpacking. I always thought it was a somewhat pointless discussion of semantics. However, I just came across a new term: Flashpacking

After reading a little up on it, I have to say that maybe the AT is no longer a place for backpacking; or at least in transition. I say that because of how it seems to be changing, simply because of how the majority of users hike the AT. Such as the importance of town visits seem to be (every couple of days in many cases), along with other similarities, such as reliance on electronic gadgets, the social aspect, including "trail magic" and the expectation of good and courteous service, i.e. expectation of Flash...

Here's another link about flashpacking, in addition to the below general description http://www.vagabondish.com/i-wanna-be-a-flashpacker-when-backpackers-grow-up-or-get-rich/

Flashpacking is the Backpacking of the Future

Somewhere before my bus broke down in Australia, I was called a flashpacker. Despite being on the road for 18 months, it was the first time I’d heard the word. A flashpacker is defined as someone, unusually in their mid 20s to early 30s, who travels like a backpacker but has more disposal income as well as electronics such as a camera, Ipod, or laptop. Flashpackers also expect better hostels and services.

Neither fully backpacker nor tourist, flashpackers are new to the traveling world. Flashpackers rest in hostels, carry a backpack, and find cheap transport but blow their money on meals, beer, tours, and parties. They usually aren’t going into a hostel without a reservation or wearing the same shirt for a week. A number of hostels are up scaling to accommodate the growing demands and needs of flashpackers and you’ll find these hostels in all corners of the planet. Flashpackers still have no fixed route and all the time to wander around but don’t pinch every penny. They are backpackers with means.

Backpacking is not about a look, it’s a lifestyle. Just because a person doesn’t have a certain look, doesn’t mean they lack the spirit of a backpacker. It doesn’t make them less of a backpacker. It goes against the backpacker outlook to look down on someone because they travel a different way. Aren’t we supposed to be embracing different ways of life?

It all comes down to what makes a backpacker a backpacker. That’s sprit. The desire to explore new places and experience new people. Backpacking is about opening your mind to new things and looking differently at the world. It’s not about the stuff you carry. As your spirit is the same, what stuff you carry shouldn’t matter.

We’re all flashpackers, whether you like it or not. We may not be driving up to the hostel in a limo but we all expect a little “flash” nowadays. According to a Hostelworld study in 2006, 21 percent of people travel with a laptop, 54 percent with an MP3 player, 83 percent with a mobile phone and a whopping 86 percent travel with a digital camera.

Think about your last trip- how many travelers did you see with cameras? Ipods? Laptops? I can’t remember seeing one person without a camera, and at least 3/4 of the people I saw had Ipods.

The truth is we all travel with fancy electronics now. We check our email and Skype our friends. We all have a camera and most of us have an Ipod. We’ve become flashpackers and it’s not a bad thing. All these electronics allows us to stay better connected with our friends, our family, and helps us better document our travels. The key is to once in awhile to put down the camera, turn off the computer, and enjoy the culture you came to see.

The backpacker who set off with 1 shirt, a small pack, and two baht to his name is getting hard to find. Manyof us have a little more means and desire a little more but we still carry his spirit. We still seek new cultures, exotic locales, and long term travel. We still look for cheap hostels and transport. We camp on that jungle trek. The difference is that now we also want a location to plug in our camera, check our e-mail, and take a hot shower. We just want to be pampered…once in awhile.
Matthew Kepnes is a lifelong flashpacker who has spent many years flashpacking around the world. Visit his website about how to travel the world (http://www.how-to-travel-the-world.com/) and learn more about how to be a flashpacker. (http://www.how-to-travel-the-world.com/flashpacking/)

06-21-2012, 14:46
Picturing a man in a trenchcoat. :O

06-21-2012, 14:51
Yep... I'm at least 90% flashpacker.

I'm also older and am on the waning side of the accumulation phase so I've got a bit more disposable income than most 20-30 somethings.

The span of a life has many phases.

Odd Man Out
06-21-2012, 15:31
I think before you redefine backpacking with a new term (flashpacking), you need to define backpacking. It seems to me that this term is used two very different ways. The Wikipedia pages refer to them as travel backpacking vs wilderness backpacking.



The former are those are people you see sitting in the Paris train station with backpacks reading their Lonely Planet Central Asia book trying to figure out how they can get a visa to Turkmenistan.

The latter are people with backpacks hiking trails and climbing mountains.

Sure there is some overlap as the wilderness packpackers may come to town for resupply and the the guy in the Paris train station may go hike a trail in the Alps when he finds out it is impossible to get a visa to Turkmenistan. But ultimately I think these are very different groups of people. I also feel that the term flashpacking is a derivative of travel backpacking (and is in fact mentioned in that Wiki page) but most people on the AT are more aligned with wilderness backpacking. The fact that AT hikers have lots of gadgets that start with a lower case "i" and spend lots of money on beer doesn't make them flashpackers. After all, on the "should I pack long pants" tread, there was lots of talk of poison ivy and bugs, but no one pointed out the need to have long pants in case you visit St. Paul's in Vatican City.

06-21-2012, 16:02
... and two baht to his name i...

So, John, how much is two baht worth in dollars? :confused:

06-21-2012, 16:56
2 baht is aprox 6 cents. (31 Thai baht to the dollar, at today's rate)
Interesting article.
He's just making money, looking for ways to travel and write about it.
It's just another way to classify us travelers.

I still call myself a traveler although now I'm a parent so my style has changed but he's talking about the "backpacking crowd" which in most of the world means people who fly/bus/or take the train around the world, with all their stuff in a backpack. (sometimes 2, one on the front and one on the back)

It is far different than the backpacking as we call it when you hike a long distance trail. (They call that trekking)

Now, whether the AT is turning into a way for these world travellers to see the world and experience America while hitchhiking, (yellow blazing), or even walking it, is certainly do-able, but I don't believe that's who he's describing here by any means.

Different meaning of the word "backpackers".
That's all.

06-21-2012, 17:02
"flashpacking" If it can make me 30 again I'm all in!

Pedaling Fool
06-21-2012, 18:33
I've seen threads before attempt to distinguish hiking, walking and backpacking. I always thought it was a somewhat pointless discussion of semantics. However, I just came across a new term: Flashpacking

I see that we're starting to talk about defining what backpacking means, just like them other threads, that try to distinguish between all the terms (and thanks Fiddlehead, I forgot about the term, Trekker).

Frankly I've never seen the point; I simply use all those terms, generally, kind of in a loose manner, unless of course the discussion requires more accurate use of the words. I wasn't proposing a name change, per se. And I also realize that this term, Flashpacking, seems to have its roots in World Traveling circles as opposed to long-distance trail hiking circles.

What struck me was how similar the two modes of travel seem to be, which I believe is a new phenomenon. That's the crazy thing, the article is about traveling from city to city and this forum is about hiking in the wilderness, yet there's so much that's similar -- when did that happen? :).

However, maybe we are getting to a point where we need to define backpacking and if that's the case I'm not sure hiking on the AT will constitute a backpacking trip -- maybe today we can, but evolution is happening right before our eyes. But then again I'm not so big on definitions in use of these type words, I'm just curious about the way in which we have done it and the way it's changing. I'm just obsessed with evolution.

06-21-2012, 18:56
It seems that at least on the southern start, Flashpacking is close to a reality. In recent years more and more hikers are hitting every town and transportation convenience that is available to them.
They seem to hit every town or village near the trail that will bring them some comfort, with some even shuttling back and forth to the motel or hostel they started from, slacking before they even get out of Georgia.

I'm not sure how this Flashpacking continues from the beginning of the Smokies onward.

06-21-2012, 19:01
I think someone mit group has tried to come up with the a "Unified Hiker Theory" but not sure how close they are.:D

06-21-2012, 20:33
So, John, how much is two baht worth in dollars? :confused:
Here I thought he was talking about the hiker only ever having had 2 baths and made a typo - thanks for getting that cleared up.

06-22-2012, 13:58
I don't think I would be considered a "Flashpacker". The only electronics I carry on a hike is my camera (Pics or it didn't happen) and my gps (I love downloading those tracks to see where I have been!!) I hate electronics on the trail, in fact it's exactly why I go hiking. I hike to get away from it all. I would rather sleep in a hammock under the stars than to expect to stay at a high quality hostel. If the point was to stay comfortably in a hostel, then I would just stay at home.

06-24-2012, 15:34
2 baht is aprox 6 cents. (31 Thai baht to the dollar, at today's rate)

So...that's about what I have left over at the end of the month! :p :D :banana

Mrs Baggins
06-24-2012, 15:58
I agree with the article in all ways but one - why say it's people in their 20's - 30's? We're in our 50's and this is exactly how we travel/backpack. And everyone we know in our age group does it the same way. I hike/backpack with a big group of women, ages from late 30's - 70's and every one of them fits this article. I do get very tired of the idea that you have to "look" the part or you are not the part. If you encountered me out shopping during the week or in a restaurant in the evenings, or having lunch with friends, you'd see me in sparkly sandals, nice outfit, makeup, hair done, jewelry and think "not a hiker/backpacker" because I don't fit the "nature" girl look. But on the trail I'm sans all of that, and as filthy and sweaty and grimy as any other "nature girl" on the trail. I have spent hours hiking with women only to run into them in a store and not even recognize them, nor do they recognize me right off, because we're "fixed up" for the day. But I do know of those who seem to have to wear hiking clothes every day year-round, no makeup ever, only "hand made" crafty jewelry if any. Fine. Wonderful. Whatever they want to do. But don't ever try to tell me I'm not a "real" hiker/backpacker/traveler because I don't look the picture of it 24/7. Or because I carry a phone. Or I travel with a netbook,(overseas), or I choose to shower daily when possible, or because I choose hostels that aren't party pens.